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Pottery Figures of the Han and Tang Dynasties

Pottery Figures of the Han and Tang Dynasties / Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 5   September 1, 2015 (Tue) - December 23, 2015 (Wed)

 Image of "Musicians and Dancer, With pigment, Eastern Han dynasty, 1st-2nd century (Gift of Dr. Yokogawa Tamisuke)" 
Musicians and Dancer, With pigment, Eastern Han dynasty, 1st-2nd century (Gift of Dr. Yokogawa Tamisuke)

Since ancient times, Chinese people have believed that one’s soul continues to exist even after death, and they were careful to ensure that deceased parents and ancestors were comfortable in the afterlife. From the Spring and Autumn/Warring States period (5th century BC), various pottery figures depicting individuals who were to serve the deceased, such as warriors, servants, and entertainers, in addition to those portraying livestock, were buried in tombs.

These figures, which reflected the customs and trends of their respective times, continued to be made until the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). Each age produced figures with different characteristics and artistic appeal. Those made in the Han dynasty (206 BC-220AD) reflect a mature culture in their understated forms, while those of the Tang dynasty (618-907) are more flamboyant and show influence, which reached China via the Silk Road, from civilizations to the west.

After tomb figures were first unearthed by accident in Henan province at the beginning of the 20th century, they appeared on the antique market and were vied for mainly by European and American collectors. However, being pottery objects excavated from tombs that are incompatible with the tea ceremony, they were unpopular in Japan.

The first Japanese to recognize the value of these figures were entrepreneurs and artists of the Taisho (1912–1926) and Showa (1926–1989) eras. This exhibition will focus on figures that were in the collections of the entrepreneurs Yokogawa Tamisuke and Nakano Kinkuro, in addition to those depicted in the works of painters such as Yasuda Yukihiko and Kobayashi Kokei, who used them as subjects for still life and as sources for historical painting. We invite visitors to experience the artistic appeal of these superb Han and Tang dynasty tomb figures, and become familiar with the history surrounding the collection of and demand for them.

 

 Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
 Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Musicians and Dancer, With pigment, Eastern Han dynasty, 1st-2nd century (Gift of Dr. Yokogawa Tamisuke)
Dog, Green glaze, Eastern Han dynasty, 2nd-3rd century (Gift of Mr. Takeyoshi Michikazu)
Warrior, With pigment, Western Jin dynasty, 3rd - 4th century (Gift of Mr. Nakano Kinkuro)
HorseThree-color glaze, Tang dynasty, 7th-8th century (Gift of Dr. Yokogawa Tamisuke)
Tomb Guardian, Three-color glaze, Tang dynasty, 7th-8th century (Gift of Dr. Yokogawa Tamisuke)


 

Thematic Exhibition Catalogues

Pottery Figures of the Han and Tang Dynasties
Pottery Figures of the Han and Tang Dynasties
(In Japanese)

On sale in the museum shop from September 1, 2015.

Issued by: Tokyo National Museum
Price: 600 yen (Tax included)

 

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