Rare Song Dynasty Terracotta Tile with Marker’s Hand Print

£ 650.00

A finely carved unglazed terracotta tile dating from the Song Dynasty. To the front, an advancing lion and its rider sit beneath a florid frame, a common motif in Buddhist art, derived from the Indian chaitya arch. The piece displays some retention of pigment, with  vibrant yellow to the lion’s mane and tail, and red and brown pigmentation on the rider’s robes. The interpretation of this image has roots in the origin of the Buddhist faith. Lion were associated with Shakyamuni, or Gautama Buddha, who retained his title of the ‘lion of the Shakya tribe’ as he entered Buddhahood. He is often depicted riding a lion or having the animal nearby, guarding the Buddha as he meditated.

The reverse displays the full palm imprint of the potter, forming a personal mark equivalent to a manuscript signature. Sometimes potters and especially tile-makers of the Song period ‘signed’ their work by impressing one hand flat into the reverse. A whole tomb decorated with figural representation modified in this way was unearthed in Shanxi Province and reported in the western press in 2018, when it was revealed during renovations to a modern house built over the tomb.

N.B. This item will require additional postage charges after checkout due to weight and size.

Date: AD 960-1279
Period: Song Dynasty
Provenance: From a West Country collection; formerly in a Hong Kong collection formed 1970-1990s.
Condition: Fine condition. Chips to the periphery of the tile with signs of ageing to the surface.

In stock

The Song Dynasty ruled China during one of its most brilliant and sophisticated cultural epochs, marking a high point for innovation in economy, science, engineering, and warfare. The Dynasty saw the introduction of the first banknotes and the first recorded chemical formula for gunpowder, as well as large-scale experimental architecture and a new intellectual interest in the arts. During this period, Buddhism waned in popularity as new philosophical schools of thought were introduced. The development of Neo-Confucianism and the re-emergence of Daoism reverberated through society, guiding it to ideals of balance and order. Buddhism, however, retained a strong influence over the arts, and many representation of Buddhist iconography can be found in the Song Dynasty extensive artistic production.

Although lions never dwelt in China, they are commonly represented in Chinese art and often seen in the form of large statues guarding the entrances to temples. Most knowledge of the animal came from indirect sources, resulting in highly stylised forms.

Weight 5250 g
Dimensions L 27.5 x W 3.4 x H 28.5 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

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