India-China Contacts Renewed & Intensified

By: Maria Victoria Lacaden :]

THE TANG DYNASTY (A.D. 618906) ‡ Tang China was the largest & most powerful country in the world. ‡ Li Yuan, 1st T¶ang emperor. Known by his temple name ³Kao Tsu´ began as a contender for the rule of the Sui dynasty. ‡ Li Shih Mhin, 2nd emperor; known as Tai T¶sung, succeeded to the throne by mrdering 2 brothers & forcing the abdiction of his fatherbut he became 1 of the most greatest emperors China has known. ‡ The years of T¶ang were brilliant times of arts & culture. ‡ Exotic troupes of asian girls became the

Late T¶ang paintings show Imperial entertainments w/ensembles of srings, winds, &percussion, & choreographic plans for bands & dancers have also been perserved. ‡ Poetry was the greatest glory of the period. Nearly 50,000works by some 2,000 T¶ang poets have been perserved. ‡ Heroic sculpture of Buddhas was a feature of middle T¶ang. ‡ Several new sects of Budhhism were introduced by Indian missionaries & at the same time both Christian & Jewish communities developed. ‡ Painting played a major role in the culture of the era, &painters were important court figures.

‡ The greatest masters of figure painting of the dynasty was Wu Tao-tzu, who did 300 wall paintings in temples at Lo-yang & Ch¶ang-an. ‡ A painter of horses was a great favourite in an era when military steeds were a matter of life & death & when court ladies played a form of solo. ‡ Landscape painting was dedicated by Wang Wei, who was an official at the court in western capital. ‡ Pottery made huge strides after the sterility of the 6Dynasties period. Finishes in white porcelain, three-colour pottery &figurines, stoneware w/a rich black glaze, & a type of celadon all were developed by T¶ang potters; & in keeping

‡ Metalwork &jewelry of the period included much silverware. Ritual objects included foreign shapes among the traditional Chinese forms. ‡ Silver & gold vessels were no longer cast but ³raised´ into bowl shape by hammering thin sheets; such vessels for drinking were double thicknesses soldered together w/an insulating layer of air between them. ‡ Decorated bronze mirrors were also popular. The T¶ang dynasty-like mostrose in duplicity &murder, & it subsuded into a kind of anarchy; but at its apex in the early 8th century, the splendour of its arts &its cultural milieu made it a model

‡ Chinese palace architecture continued to influence Budhhist architecture, although some examples seen in the Dunhuang wall paintings of the paradise scenes.

‡ Between the Wei and Tang dynasties the incoporeal visionary style in both painting & sculpture began to change into a stiffly columnar form. After about A.D. 560 this stiff style became more fluid, the figures began to shift the weight to one foot, & a graceful rhythmic pose for bodhisattva figures evolved.

‡ Perhaps sculpture best expressed the new vigor of the Budhhist faith. Although much was destroyed in the great persecution of the grandeur of this art. Painted stone reliefs decorated the cave temples at Longmen, Tianlong Shan, and other

‡ At Dunhuang clay or stucco over the soft stone core continued, as well as sculptures made entirely of clay upon a wooden armature.

‡ Owing to a shortage of metals for coinage, with which the court hoped to pacify fierce borders tribes, most of the larger bronze images were melted down by order of the court in the 9th century. Reaction to this order may have been the cause of the resulting persection of buddhism as well as other

‡ Indicative of renewed Indian contacts, which increase in the last years of the Sui & early Tang dynasty. ‡ The figures stand in graceful poses, dressed in Indian garments and jewelry. ‡ The µCult of the Bodhisattva¶(budhhists saw the bodhisattva as saving helpers) served a very real human need. ³humans felt the desire for some subject of their spiritual aspirations, for someone to whom they could confide their difficulties & who could interceede with the Body of Essence on their behalf.

‡ By 18th century, µswelling, plump bodies & clinging draperies¶ indicate strong Indian influence, & the Budhhas

‡ The gilt bronze Budhha preaching the 1st sermon is a very obvius imitation of the Gupta stone version of Sarnath, w/c was justly famous throughout Asia, but it is ³fatter´


‡ By the time Zhou Fang, the style in ladies had become amplified &was more like that of the tomb figurine of the late 8th century.

‡ Landscape as a subject became more important in the Tang. It was used as a setting for narrative or historical paintings. ‡ ³What we see 1st, w/c is entirely wrong, is a single point in the journey being portrayed at a single moment in time.´ We see it like we see a photograph. And by doing so we miss the narrative--the continuity in time--that the painting contains..

‡ One of the most powerrful of Tang animal sculptures is the small white marble lion. The powerful musculature &dynamic vigor admirable expressions of the Tang vitality. ‡ Most of these were made of fired clay,


Li Chao


Yen LiPen

Wu TaoTzu