Ancient Chinese sculptures were mainly associated with religion and were commonly found in temples and mausoleums. Ancient Chinese sculptures, the essence of ancient Chinese arts, have attained great achievements in different sculpture branches and different historical periods.
They are rich in subject matter and diversified in style, presenting strong and vivid flavor of the country as well as the age. For instance, the sculptures in the Qin and Han Dynasties are rough and sturdy, the sculptures in the Wei and Jin Dynasties are vigorous and graceful, and the sculptures in Tang and Song Dynasties are rich and elegant.
The ancient Chinese sculptures are also full of expressionistic spirit. They are not accustomed to the surface work or the details, but stress on the feeling and artistic conception implied by the imagination-triggering image, which is able to lead people to another artistic world.
Undoubtedly the most famous Chinese sculptures are the Qin dynasty Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. A total of 8,000 terracotta warriors and horses were unearthed in the 2,200-year-old mausoleum of Qin Shihuang the first Emperor of a united China.
These terracotta figures of soldiers and horses are set to life-size dimensions. Standing tall, lifelike and mobilized for action, these warriors continue to faithfully guard their monarch, as they have done for over two millennia.
Pottery Ancient Chinese Sculptures
Furthermore, the pottery figures of the Yellow River region were used as utensils of both decorative and practical value. In the Yangtze River regions, the pottery animal sculptures were very small and made purely for amusement. Some small hand-molded pottery animal figures of the Qujialing culture in Hubei Province and the Hemudu culture in Zhejiang Province have been unearthed.
They come in the shape of birds, pigs, fish and other creatures. It seems they were made with earth left over from the manufacture of big pottery products. They might have been used as toys for children or for other purposes, but it is likely they were mainly produced for enjoyment.
The animals depicted in these sculptures are mostly domesticated livestock, Such as pigs, sheep, dogs, and chickens, used by people in the Neolithic Age. The makers of the sculptures created them Out of interest after careful observation of life. The sculptures’ meaning remains obscure, which adds to their mystery.
The look of these pottery sculptures is informal, simple, exaggerated and compact; they are unpolished, which reinforces the beauty of a free and innocent style. They laid a solid foundation for later more refined and larger sculptural creations.
Chinese Buddha sculptures, reflecting Indian and Tibetan influences, initially looked imperious, mysterious and aloof. Gradually, the form evolved to reflect more natives Chinese style. Early examples from the 5th to 6th centuries are lean and elegant, and from the 7th to 8th centuries took a form that was plump, round and soft.
Compared with the West, there’s a greater emphasis on clothing for Chinese character sculptures. Well-preserved samples of Buddhist-inspired sculptures remain in many temples, especially in the cave carvings of Yungang, Dunhuang, Longmen, and Dazu.