Ming Glazed Terracotta Tile From a Temple Roof

SKU H.1004
Circa

1368 AD to 1644 AD

Dimensions

17″ (43.2cm) high

Medium

Glazed Terracotta

Origin

China

Gallery Location

USA


 

Chinese architecture is one of the more distinct styles of building throughout the world. Perhaps the most characteristic element is the pagoda roofs that end in dramatic curves. This sculptural tile would have been situated on that curved edge of a Ming Dynasty temple. Depicting a figure lunging forward on the tile, this work was placed on the roof in order to frighten away any evil spirits that might attempt to infiltrate the sacred space. The exposed flesh of the bald man is covered in an ochre glaze; otherwise, he is covered in a blue and white skirt that gathers in undulating folds in between his spread legs. He has his fists clenched together, held in front of his body as if a boxer. Holes in his hands reveal that he would have once held objects likely made out of wood that have deteriorated over the centuries. Who does this figure represent? A fighter? A spiritual leader? A deity? While we may never know his true identity, we can assume that he was an important individual to be memorialized in such a way. When one considers that this remarkable architectural sculpture is just the tip of the temple, the beauty of the completed temple must be truly astounding.

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