A Pair of Ming Dynasty Sandstone Couple Tiles with High Relief

SKU DL.2103

Extra Fine


1368 AD to 1644 AD


53.1″ (134.9cm) high x 21.6″ (54.9cm) wide x 10.6″ (26.9cm) depth




Sichuan Province

Gallery Location

S Korea


Upon leading a victorious rebellion against the foreign Mongul rulers of the Yuan Dynasty, a peasant named Zhu Yuanzhang seized control of China and founded the Ming Dynasty in 1368. As emperor, he founded his capital at Nanjing and adopted the name Hongwu as his reign title. Hongwu, literally meaning “vast military,” reflects the increased prestige of the army during the Ming Dynasty. Culturally, the greatest innovation of the Ming Dynasty was the introduction of the novel. Developed from the folk tales of traditional storytellers, these works were transcribed in the everyday vernacular language of the people. Advances in printmaking and the increasing population of urban dwellers largely contributed to the success of these books. Architecturally, the most famous monument of the Ming Dynasty is surely the complex of temples and palaces known as the Forbidden City that was constructed in Beijing after the third ruler of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Yongle, moved the capital there. Today, the Forbidden Palace remains one of the hallmarks of traditional Chinese architecture and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the vast nation.

This pair of exquisite sandstone tiles date from this exciting chapter in China’s history. Carved in high relief, they depict two youthful figures standing on highly elaborate plinths, draped with patterned fabric. The female figure holds a fan in her right hand decorated with a charming floral motif. The sense of movement is extraordinary; the robes of both figures appear to flutter as if disturbed by a gentle breeze. Both figures also have one foot hovering over the edge of the plinth as if they were about to step down to ground level. The elaborate headdresses and the attention to detail on the costume, particularly the ‘embroidered’ sleeves of the girl’s dress are visually stunning. With their small, round faces and sweet expressions there is something innately playful about these youthful figures.

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