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Tomb Pillar

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)

The two Tomb Pillars shown here probably stood on either side of doorways in Han Dynasty tombs. Rollers and stamps were pressed into the soft clay to create the designs on the shafts of the Pillars. Similar images of an official wearing a robe with wide steeves appear between the knees of one figure and on the base of the other Pillar, and similar designs of dragons appear on both Pillars. While stamped earthenware architectural elements from Han tombs are well known, those with grotesque human figures on top are rare, and only a few examples are known. All seem to have come from China early in this century, and the meaning of the half-human figures with large heads and bulging eyes remains a mystery.

MEDIUM Earthenware
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.
    DYNASTY Han Dynasty
    PERIOD Han Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS Height: 49 5/8 in. (126 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    CREDIT LINE By exchange
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Tomb Pillar, 206 B.C.E.-220 C.E. Earthenware, Height: 49 5/8 in. (126 cm). Brooklyn Museum, By exchange, 37.124. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CONS.37.124_1996_xrs_detail01.jpg)
    IMAGE xray, detail, CONS.37.124_1996_xrs_detail01.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 1996
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