Chinese art is one of the oldest forms of art in the world. Characterized by art from different dynasties, the Chinese people are proud of their ancient art including different types of sculptures that are treasured by almost every Chinese. These sculptures clearly show the age and different time periods their culture has gone through, right from the oldest dynasty in their history. The top 5 ancient Chinese sculptures hail from the following dynasties.
• Xia dynasty
• Shang dynasty
• Zhou dynasty
• Qin dynasty
• Han dynasty
• Jin dynasty
• Sui dynasty
• Tang dynasty
• Song dynasty
Sculptures from a number of these dynasties are used to show the concept and the artistic prowess held by the Chinese people, as a way of depicting and representing their historical transformation.
Here are the Top 5 Ancient Chinese Sculptures:
1. Chinese Jade
Chinese jade is a sculpture made from a treasured Chinese ornamental stone mostly used to make some of the jewelry products the Chinese identify themselves with. It is a belief among the Chinese that these jade sculptures are used to symbolize purity, immortality, and beauty. Jade is valued a lot among the Chinese people and to them it is more beautiful than gold. In ancient times, Jade was strictly used by elite people, mainly emperors and leaders, to symbolize their power and the value of this rare stone. Ritual vessels and other important objects also had some jade carvings symbolizing beauty. One of their leaders Zhe Sheng was buried in a jade suit to help preserve his body and symbolize the power he held.
2. Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Buddha sculpture is known to be the largest carved Buddha in the world. This ancient Chinese sculpture dates back almost 1300 years, when stone carvings and general art was part of some of the most famous Chinese dynasties. Many monks across the world believe that the sculpture is actually an ancient monk called Maitreya the son of Sakyamuni. The latter is believed to have founded Buddhism. Buddhists across the world occasionally visit this stone carving near Mt Emei to symbolize their loyalty to Sakyamuni.
It is believed that this stone carving took over 90 years to be sculpted by Hai Tong and his disciples with an aim of appeasing the gods to stop the turbulent waters of rivers from killing the local people, as many families in boats were drowning in the river. The government during the Tang dynasty turned down Hai Tong’s request multiple times to fund him so that he could construct this sculpture to appease the gods of waters. He had to remove one of his eyeballs to convince the politicians in the government who then decided to listen to his request and fund him. It was so unfortunate that Hai Tong died before finishing carving the Leshan Buddha but his students stepped up and finished carving the world’s biggest stone carving.
3. Terracotta Army sculptures.
Discovered by people who were digging a well in Xi’an, China back in 1974, Terracotta army sculptures are one of the biggest archeological discoveries ever made. Available ancient evidence shows that the emperor behind the sculpting of Terracotta army was Ying Zeng the first Emperor of Qin. After taking the throne Ying Zeng decided to change his name to Qin so as to unify the different kingdoms into one. With the help of over 600,000 workers, Ying embarked on sculpting this ancient mausoleum with the sole aim of accompanying him in his leadership from 246 B.C. After taking the throne Ying Zeng decided to change his name to Qin which was as a result of unifying different kingdoms into one.
Apart from being the person behind Terracotta mausoleum, Qin was the first person to have laid the initial foundations of The Great Walls of China. The sudden death of Qin in 209 B.C led to an end in sculpting the 7,000 soldiers armed with swords and other weapons.
4. Mogao Caves
These caves found just above River Dachuan were first constructed in 366AD to represent some of the achievements that Buddhists had accomplished in the 4TH century. The contents of almost 492 caves are murals covering a very large area of approximately 46,000 square meters and up to 2000 sculptures. Other Mogao caves have sculptured items that depicted the active trade lifestyle during the Sui dynasty. Trade was their main economic activity hence the camel and middlemen sculptures located in cave number 302.
5. Rongxian Buddha sculpture
This is the second largest Buddha sculpture after Leshan Buddha. It is approximately 39 meters in height. It is located in Rongxian county. Many monks know it as the third Buddha of the world. It is one of the greatest sculptures by ancient Chinese monks. Rongxian Buddha sculpture is one of the most famous Chinese Sculptures in history. It has stood the test of time, and it is highly visited by thousands of people from all over the world each year.