UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The terra-cotta figures of Qin and human representations from the 5th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D. Wong, Saintfield S. F.


In 1974, an army of over 7,000 life size soldiers and horses sculpted in clay and equipped with actual bronze weapons and chariots was discovered in Lintong, Shaanxi Province, near the mausoleum of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shihuangdi. As a component part of the mausoleum, the army was produced between 246 - 209 B.C. Although made by the thousands, these figures were individually modelled. Great care was taken to depict and define the particulars, especially those of the facial features, hairstyles and armor. On the other hand, little attention was given to the representation of organic structures and anatomical details. The difference in concern for various parts of the body poses an interesting topic for investigation. In particular, the great care devoted to rendering details shown by the Qin figures signifies a new stage in the development of human representation, where human figures represented as independent subject matter were produced in life size and with a concern for realism. Through stylistic analyses of the Qin figures and human representations from the 5th Century B.C. to the 3rd Century A.D., one is not only able to define the artistic concerns of the Qin sculptors, but is also able to determine the significance of the Qin figures in the development of human representation. Moreover, through the study of the prevailing artistic trends, the sociological and ideological background of the Eastern Zhou and Qin periods, one discovers that the Qin figures closely relate to the bronze tradition in their method of modelling, concern for surface and clarity in representation; while the Qin sculptors' attention for exactitude in details and variation within uniformity reflects the ideology of the Qin regime. Nevertheless, anatomical realism was never a primary concern of the Qin artists. The trend for abstraction and the northern and southern attitude towards art can also be traced through the development of human representation. The rising importance of depicting the human figure as an independent subject matter mirrored the rising value of man amidst political turmoil and social changes.

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