Han Dynasty

Rebels overthrew the Qin in 210 BCE, founding the Han dynasty which followed the long-golden pattern of heroic founder,
great consolidator, golden age, complacency-corruption-chaos.
Nevertheless, it lasted four hundred years and witnessed refinements in jade carving, bronze and lacquer work.
The tombs of this period revealed much about the life styles and values of the people.

The laughing bronze figure above, with its large barbarian nose, represents the commercial relationship which Han China had with its neighbors north of the Great Wall. The nose, as well as the large eyes, round face, triangular cap all suggest a non-Chinese figure. This fellow and three companions were excavated from a Han tomb (S&W 62).

(Smith and Wang 62)

This small bronze cat was also a tomb find.

(Gascoigne 88)

One of the most amazing and original treasures excavated from Han Chinese grave sites was her jade burial suit.


Both Taoism and Confucianism were essentially institutionalized in Han times, and Buddhism as well came to China over the Silk Road from India becoming the third "Way" of traditional China. As Han China moved into its decline, Buddhism exercised a special appeal and provided new aesthetics in Chinese art.

(Batteryberry 31)


Below left is the Buddha of the Future with his right hand raised signifying protection and his left hand extended to indicate charity (S&W 96)

(S&W 96)

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Batterberry, Michael. Chinese and Oriental Art. New York, et. al.: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1968.

Gascoigne, Bamber. The Dynasties and Treasures of China. New York: The Viking Press, 1973.

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Asia. Ed. by Sarah McPhee, et. al. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.

Smith, Bradley and Wan-go Weng. China: A History in Art. New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc.

West. Susan. "Artifacts from Imperial Tombs of China." Florida State University. Online available.