Entries by Super User

meiping Vase

This vase offers an interesting and rare example of Yuan ceramics. There are only two other known examples, one of which is in the Beijing Imperial Palace. Its refined form, curving out at the shoulder from a narrow base, and its fully coated surface are features associated with traditional Song (960-1279) models. The delicately engraved […]


Originally, this wardrobe was one of a pair, and was topped by a chest for the storage of headdresses. The vast proportions of the palace rooms explain the monumental aspect of the whole piece of furniture, over three meters high. Its decoration depicts dragons imperial symbols looming like spirits in a kind of magic mirror. […]

Small jade cup

This extremely important piece, a circular cup mounted on a small, low base, is a testimony to Ming sculpture. The translucent white, veined jade gives sensuality to the decoration composed of two facing zhi dragons which form the handles. The dragons’snouts and paws grip the rim while the bodies arch outwards and the tails coil […]

Thousand Flowers Vase

The reign of Qianlong witnessed a gradual lessening of formal elegance in the arts: the overall unity of many pieces was often overshadowed by accomplished technique. Decorations sought to imitate all kinds of materials jade, bronze and silk. This “Thousand Flowers” vase, adorned with hundreds of intermingled chrysanthemums, peonies, lilies, morning glories, magnolias, roses and […]

Northern celadon ewer

This ewer, with its globe-shaped belly and high, fluted neck, has an extensive carved floral decoration under a blue-green glaze. Characteristic carvings on productions from the Yaozhou kilns under the early Song were deeply incised on this type of piece as much as 5mm deep producing graceful contrasts between the shaded zones created by the […]

Silver Casket, dated 1024

Esthetically, this cubical casket mounted on a low, flared base and with a bevel-edged lid shows similarities to objects from the Tang dynasty (618-907), in particular a series of Buddhist reliquaries from the Famen temple. The Tang influence is also found in the choice of images, such as the four repoussé figures of half-animal, half-human […]

Deer-shaped drum mounting

This reclining deer with its legs folded along its body, oval-shaped head held high and its muzzle in the air, seems almost alive. It is composed of three lacquered wood elements, topped by a pair of fossilized antlers bearing polychrome traces. A flat disc serving as a drum is fixed to the rear hind flank. […]

Camondo zun (wine vessel)

Despite its monumental appearance, this standing elephant with its raised trunk is in fact a recipient, the hollow interior of was filled from a square opening on the animal’s back (the lid is now missing). On each flank, the long ribboned bas relief taotie ornamentation is submerged in a background of leiwen. Scales that extend […]

cong (jade tube)

The square outer section of this piece encloses an empty cylinder. At the corners of the interlocking square and circle is a series of seven diagrammatic masks, the precise meaning of which remains uncertain. Although it might formally derive from ornaments such as tubular pearls or bracelets it was nevertheless intended for ritual use. Such […]

zhulong (Dragon-pig)

The zhulong (literally, “dragon-pig”), a magical creature, has a snakelike body wrapped around an orifice culminating in a pig’s head with two forcefully pricked-up ears, round eyes, and a flat, wrinkled snout. It is a hybrid being, and the cross between pig and snake reflects a society of farmers and stockbreeders. Ancient Chinese jade was […]

Jiandiping amphora

This amphora has a slender profile. The narrow neck extends downwards into a sloping shoulder before joining the belly with its gently rounded sides and conical-shaped bottom, while the top of the cylindrical neck swells slightly outwards. The neck opens into a straight, flat-lipped mouth. Two symmetrical ear-like handles are provided half way up the […]

Pack-camel and camel driver

The sculptor’s treatment of the fur of this Bactriane camel is hyper-realist, a convention that first emerged towards the 6th century CE. Funerary camel figurines became increasingly common in China from the Northern Wei dynasty onwards, reaching their peak under the Tang. Although numerous specimens exist, representations of loaded and mounted animals are more rare. […]

hu Wine Vase

This slender, curved, pear-shaped bottle is made of gilded bronze. Its three horizontal layers of silver decoration depict mountains and clouds, symbols of the mythical world of the immortals who were believed to inhabit distant, mountainous islands and to fly through the vast expanses of heaven. This was a recurrent theme during the Han period, […]

liding (sacrificial vase)

This liding funerary recipient is composed of three juxtaposed sheep heads. Out of each head emerges a foot, and the six interwoven horns define the form of the piece itself. Its powerful architecture comes from the extreme tension of the heads that seem to be thrusting outwards into space. In the late Neolithic period the […]

Buddha head

This round, almost spherical head of Buddha -the face dignified and grave, displaying a detached serenity conferred by the smooth modeling and plain, unadorned features- is characteristic of the art of the Northern Qi dynasty where this kind of flowing relief became more pronounced. The small, regular curls of the hair are a sign of […]

Standing Buddha

Buddha is represented standing, his legs slightly spread. The body is entirely concealed beneath the samghati (religious cloak), a characteristic of this period (although other sculpted images from the same period do pay attention to visual volume). The distinctly Chinese face with chubby cheeks and linked, arching eyebrows is quite different from the Gandharian morphology […]

Kazaks offering horses in tribute to the Emperor Qianlong

This painting depicts Kazak envoys from the West offering a tribute of horses to the emperor Qianlong as a token of allegiance to the Manchu regime. The emperor, whose impassive features are treated with all the precision of a miniature, is seated on a podium in front of a screen, surrounded by a limited gathering […]

“First Ode to the Red Cliff”

According to the long colophon by the artist himself, this work is a stylistic exercise composed in the company of friends. It follows the great calligraphic tradition of the Northern Song (960-1127) which Shen Zhou had adopted as a virtually exclusive model. He particularly admired Huang Tingjian (1045-1105)- poet, calligrapher, art critic and friend of […]

Jingting Mountains in autumn

This scroll, which faithfully adopts the traditional Chinese rendering of perspective in successive tiers, depicts a landscape of wooded rocky massifs in the center of which a waterfall plunges into a river. Near a pavilion, hidden in the abundant foliage, a man contemplates the scene. In a colophon, the painter explains the circumstances surrounding his […]

Bamboo leaves

This vertical scroll painting depicts the top of a clump of bamboo. The skillfully graduated monochrome ink composition fills the entire height of the space; the foreground leaves are treated with thicker ink, while those in the background are treated with clearer ink, suggesting a misty effect. Bamboo is a symbolic plant, and the graphic […]

Statue of the luohan Tamrabhadra

The term luohan (Sanskrit: arhat) describes the Buddhas original disciples who had attained Nirvâna, and the ideal of the Buddhist quest. This statue of the meditating figure, with its outstanding rosary, conveys a particular state of concentration, a blend of vigilance and determination. The figures balance and monumentality, the visual accuracy of the body and […]

Standing horse mingqi (tomb figure)

This animal, with its body solidly planted on sturdy legs and its prominent eyelids, geometrical jaws and flaring nostrils, has an extraordinarily expressive look, symbolizing the strength of the Chinese horse. The curves and counter-curves of its morphology are deliberately accentuated and executed like a flowing brushstroke. It is a spirited, picturesque work, typical of […]

Lady with chignon mingqi (tomb figure)

This court lady belongs to a stylistic phase characteristic of the Tang dynasty (618-907) at its peak. Moreover she has the rare privilege of having kept most of her polychrome decoration intact. Her ample silhouette is clothed in a long dark blue skirt with printed floral motifs, fastened high under the bust, and a V-necked […]

Dragon plaque

This large green nephrite plaque represents a dragon with its head turned. The plaque exhibits a few traces of burial deposit and is slightly calcified in places. The large U-shaped curving silhouette of the dragons sinuous body fills the center of the motif. The forceful design with its curves and counter curves displays a skillfully […]

The Mausoleum of the first Emperor, Qin shihuang

The significance of this site where, sixty years later, a terracotta army of more than six thousand warriors guarding the tomb of the first Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi (221-210 BCE), would be unearthed, did not escape the attention of its photographer. On 16 February 1914, the members of the Segalen Mission carried out measured drawings […]

Episode from the life of Buddha “The Subjugation of Mara”

This illustrated scene depicts the attacks led by Mara, god of death and illusion, threatened by the future Buddha’s imminent Enlightenment. The latter is portrayed seated on a diamond throne in front of a Bo tree making the symbolic gesture of the bumiparsa mudra (taking the earth as witness). Mara stands to the right of […]

Pilgrim monk carrying books

This painting depicts a stereotyped image widespread throughout China, the Far East and Tibet: that of a missionary monk with pronounced features-the way the Chinese imagined foreigners-weighed down by Buddhist texts. From his load rise mystical clouds within which appears the image of a meditating Buddha. In these icons, a vigilant tiger that leads the […]

Meditating Buddha in a niche

Buddha is depicted, his head circled by a halo, sitting beneath a dais, the form of which moulds the curve of the ogival panel. As the figure has lost its forearms it is impossible to determine the original gesture being made, but the incipient movement and the disposition of the robes would suggest that of […]

Bodhisattva head

Elongated locks of hair, which provide a touch of decorative naturalism, frame this bodhisattva head. It is topped by a tiara formed from three medallions with ornamental pearl borders. Two of the medallions have lotus-flower rosace motifs while the third features a floral decoration reminiscent of some the motifs found in Gupta halos. Such tiaras, […]

Ornamented Buddha protected by the naga

According to one possible interpretation, this sculpture of Buddha seated in meditation (samadhi) on the naga Mucilinda depicts an episode from the life of Sakyamuni. The latter, plunged in meditation, was about to be swallowed up by the waters of a lake when Mucilinda, who dwelt in the lake, protected him with her multiple heads, […]

Kneeling Tara

In the opinion of some specialists, this female figure -kneeling in the orant, or praying, position- was originally holding a book and represented Prajnaparamita, mother of all Buddhas; others believe instead that she was making a gesture of prayer, and in fact represented Tara, paredra of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Both identifications are compatible with the […]


To the best of present knowledge, this statue is apparently one of the most ancient representations of Harihara, a hybrid deity who is half Vishnu (Hari)-depicted on the left hand side, with crown and disc-and half Shiva (Hara)-depicted on the right, with crescent-moon ascetic’s chignon headdress, tiger-skin robe, and trident. By the time the 7th […]

Head of Shiva

The Hindu deity Shiva is easily recognizable by the presence of a third eye on his forehead. The hairstyle that frames this somewhat unnatural face, with its simplified, clearly defined modelling, falls in a straight line from the temples down to the beard; the lips and eyes are highlighted by carved incisions, while the beard […]

Jayavarman VII

Although it bears no royal insignia or any finery, this is the head of a sovereign: Jayavarman VII (r. 1181-1218?). The king is portrayed at a mature age, his features somewhat fleshy, his eyes lowered, meditating in utmost humility. His lips are set in the famous “Angkor smile”. The sculpture belongs to the Bayon style […]

Wheel of the Law (Dharmacakra)

This Wheel of the Law, characteristic of pre-Thai Dvaravati Buddhist art is decorated withfloral and plant motifs and small flames on the bracket. Although dated from the 8th century AD, the lion head (simhamukha) in the lower section of the work, as well as the lavish decoration, would rather suggest the following century. Wheels of […]

Ornamented Buddha

It is open to conjecture whether this image of the Buddha decked in finery belongs to the Mahayana or Theravada tradition. The jewelry -diadem, pectoral chain and vestimentary ornamentation- is typically Burmese. Certain decorative motifs such as the flowerets and erect pendants, which also appear on the arch and window frames of local monuments, apparently […]

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

This statuette, its face immersed in deep introspection, represents Avalokitesvara, identifiablethanks to the figure of bodhisattva is rare. Some of the figure’s arms are making symbolic mudra gestures while others hold the deity’s characteristic attributes: rosary, lace, water pitcher, book, a broken object that may have originally represented the elephant tooth or the triple staff, […]

A jina

This representation of the Buddha is characterized by a broad, majestic and serene face with lowered eyes. The very slightly hooked nose and the mouth, with its rather thin, well defined upper lip and thicker, fleshier lower lip, are peculiar to images from Borobudur. Although the hair, with its ample curls spiralling to the right […]

Maravijaya Buddha

This image was cast in bronze using cire perdue technique and covered in a shiny blackcoating through which the metal is partly visible. It portrays the Buddha in the posture most commonly found in Thailand: sitting cross-legged on a plinth, right leg folded over left, and making the mudra of taking the earth as witness […]


This high relief depicts a narrative scene. It is framed by a multi-lobed rampant arch surmounted by raised leaves and culminating in multi-headed naga. The scene refers to an episode from the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic of which Vishnu, appearing in the guise of his avatar Krishna, is one of the heroes. On either […]