Medieval China Buddhist Temple Shrine Bodhisattva Tile Sintered Clay HUGE AD999

$547.41 Buy It Now, $120.42 Shipping, 30-Day Returns, eBay Money Back Guarantee

Seller: ancientgifts ✉️ (5,283) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, US, Ships to: WORLDWIDE, Item: 382417053095 Medieval China Buddhist Temple Shrine Bodhisattva Tile Sintered Clay HUGE AD999. Genuine Intricate, Beautiful Ancient Chinese Buddhist Shrine Decorative Clay Tile Depicting Eight Hindu-Style Bodhisattvas. Possibly an 18th or 19th Century Revival Imitative. CLASSIFICATION: Ancient Chinese Buddhist Clay Shrine Tile. ATTRIBUTION: In the Style of Ancient China, Liao Dynasty (907-1125 A.D.). SIZE/MEASUREMENTS: Length: 243 millimeters (9 3/4 inches). Width: 188 millimeters (7 1/2 inches). Thickness: 25 millimeters (1 inch). Weight: 3 pounds, 6 ounces (about 1½ kilograms). CONDITION: Exceptional. Integrity entirely intact. No significant chips or cracks. Minor surface crazing. Professionally conserved. Can be sealed upon request. DETAIL: This is a very beautiful, intricately detailed gray clay tile from the Liao Dynasty of ancient China. These clay tiles were used to decorate the inside walls of Buddhist shrines. The depiction is somewhat reminiscent of a Hindu depiction. Of course Buddhism came to China from Hindu India, and there exist of course many parallels between the Chinese and Indian variants of Buddhism. The depiction is of eight bodhisattvas of various sizes. There is a little surface crazing and a few minute chips; but no cracks or major chips. It is constructed of very strong sintered clay produced using a very special technique often employed to produce strengthened steel. Although it is probable that this specimen is much older, it is also possible that this piece might be a revivalist imitative produced for the European market of the 18th or 19th century. It is widely known that Chinese porcelain and other ceramic artwork was quite popular in Victorian Europe. Carrying Chinese porcelain from China to Europe was an industry for the seafaring mariners of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Entire fleets of sailing ships plied the trade, especially the Dutch and English. However in addition to porcelain, ancient Chinese ceramics were also extremely popular in Victorian Europe, where Chinese ceramic artwork was highly appreciated and in great demand. Although the style of this specimen is very convincing and suggests it might indeed be of Liao Dynasty origin, a large portion of the antique/ancient Chinese ceramics in Europe date to the 18th or 19th century, so it is quite possible that this is an imitative revival piece. Judging by the style it is likely considerably older, but only a $1,000 thermoluminescence test would establish this conclusively (and even then the reliability and accuracy of such testing is still debated). So we’ll simply err on the side of being conservative and suggest that you consider it a revival piece, and if it is indeed older, so much the better. However whether an antique several centuries old, or an antiquity a few centuries older, this is a valuable and collectible piece of art.This is a gorgeous, intricate artifact of ancient Chinese Buddhism. It is a very solid piece, well constructed, and in a great state of preservation. It would make a unique gift for yourself or a friend. The origin of such tiles can be traced back to clay roof tiles which were originally used in China over 10,000 years ago. Eventually they evolved into highly ornate decorative pieces of art. Over 2,000 years ago highly decorated pottery tiles were also produced for medicinal use. It is believed that hot tiles were used for massage or hot pressing. But the lavish decorations also suggest that they might have played a role in assisting ritual incantation, perhaps in ridding the patient of disease. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: HISTORY OF SINTERED CLAY: Sintered clay is produced using a technique known as “hydrogen reduction” Commonly thought to be a process developed for European steelmaking in the industrial revolution, the same technique was used for ceramics in China dating to the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) and earlier. The production of brick and roof tile has been significant in China for two millennia. To achieve sintering, the kiln is charged with extra fuel, then closed at the firebox and flue openings, and water is introduced from a pool on the roof without subsequent introduction of air. The water dissociates, as has been described for water gas firing or water smoking in steel production. The results of this firing produce bricks that are distinctive not only for their color but for their microstructure, which indicates that further sintering has occurred, strengthening the bricks. BUDDHISM IN CHINA: According to historical accounts, Buddhism was first introduced to China about 65 A.D. when two Indian monks were by Emperor Ming of the Han Dynasty to establish a monastery in China. In the beginning Buddhism did not have much influence in China due to the prevailing traditional Chinese philosophy of Confucius. With the downfall of the Han Dynasty in 220 A.D. and the troubled chaotic period that followed, Confucianism was overshadowed by the rival philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism. Northern China was ruled by non-Chinese rulers who encouraged Buddhism. Southern China was ruled by Chinese rulers who were dissatisfied with traditional Confucian beliefs and began to take an interest in Buddhist thought. In the next two centuries Buddhism was rapidly accepted by the common people as well as government official and rulers. During the Tang Dynasty Buddhism reached its high point in China, becoming a sect distinct from Indian Buddhism, and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture However the tax-exempt monasteries became so powerful that they represented a threat to the declining Tang Dynasty. The result was persecution of Buddhism, and shortly before the 10th century collapse of the Tang Dynasty, monasteries were dismantled and the monks and nuns were obliged to return to worldly life. Buddhism in China never entirely recovered from this blow. During the succeeding Song Dynasty intellectuals sought answers to all philosophical and political questions in the Confucian Classics. This renewed interest in the Confucian ideals and society of ancient times coincided with the decline of Buddhism, which the Chinese regarded as foreign and offering few practical guidelines for the solution of political and other mundane problems. However during the Ming Dynasty a strong Buddhist movement once again developed. SUNG/LIAO DYNASTIES: The collapse of the Tang Dynasty in 907 A.D. formed the backdrop for the rise the Sung (Song) and Liao Dynasties. During the fifty years following the collapse China fragmented into ten different kingdoms, constantly in conflict with one another, and a rapid succession of five dynasties formed and then collapsed. The Five Dynasties period ended in 960 A.D. when a military leader seized the throne and proclaimed the establishment of the Sung (Song) Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) and reunified most of China. However the Mongols who were responsible for the demise of the preceding Tang Dynasty formed their own kingdom in North China known as the Liao Dynasty (907-1125 A.D.). For the only time in China, the contemporaneous monarchs of both the Liao and Song Dynasties recognized one another as possessing “the mandate of heaven” to rule China as the “son of heaven” – a situation similar to that of Ancient Egypt whereby one Dynasty ruled Upper Egypt, the other Lower Egypt, both Pharaohs recognizing one another’s divine right to rule.Notwithstanding the shorter-lived Northern Liao Dynasty, the Song Dynasty proved to be the longer lived, and controlled most of China. The founders of the Song Dynasty built an effective centralized bureaucracy staffed with civilian scholar-officials. Notable for the development of cities not only as administrative entities, but also as centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce, the Sung Dynasty gave rise to a new group of wealthy commoners, the mercantile class. Printing and education spread, private trade grew, and a market economy began to link the coastal provinces and the interior. Landholding and government employment were no longer the only means of gaining wealth and prestige. Unfortunately fearing a repeat of the anarchy created in the Tang Dynasty by petty military rulers in the frontier areas, the Sung Monarchs severely limited the power and authority of provincial military commanders. They were subordinate to centrally appointed civilian officials who had replaced the regional military governors of the Tang. Though this gave greater power and control to the emperor and his palace bureaucracy, it also led a chronic problem with military weakness. Weakness which proved to be fatal to the Sung Dynasty as they confronted the Mongols under the leadership of Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. HISTORY OF CHINESE EARTHENWARE: The first Chinese ceramics archaeologists have found date back more than 10,000 years. These were earthenware, which means they were made from clay and fired at the kind of low temperatures reached by a wood fire or simple oven. In China, most ceramics made before the Tang dynasty (600 A.D.) are earthenware. They may be glazed or unglazed, and are occasionally painted, often brightly colored. Stoneware ceramics are harder and less porous than earthenware and are fired at hotter temperatures—between 2100°F and 2400°F. At these high temperatures, the surface of the clay melts and becomes glassy. Although stoneware is usually waterproof, most stoneware ceramics are glazed for decoration. The glazes often contain ash, which allows the glaze to harden at stoneware temperatures. During the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.) bronze metallurgy superceded ceramics as the favored art form of the ruling class. However both the ceramic and the bronze industries evolved into complex systems of production that were supported by the aristocracy. Decorative designs rich in symbolism were created first in bronze were then imitated in clay. Chinese burial customs included the tradition of placing clay replicas of material possessions, animals and people in the tomb to accompany the deceased and serve them in the next life. Although archaeological finds have revealed that glazed pottery was produced as early as 1100 B.C. during the Zhou dynasty, the production of glazed wares was not common until about 200 B.C. during the Han Dynasty. However from about 1000 B.C. onwards during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, primitive porcelain wares emerged. Real porcelain wares appeared in the Han dynasty around 200 A.D. In the process of porcelain development, different styles in different periods blossomed. The production of porcelain became widespread by about 500 A.D. Using a special clay with ground rock containing feldspar, a glassy mineral, the material was fired at very high temperatures above 2400°F. The surface of the clay melts at such high temperatures and becomes smooth as glass. Early porcelains were undecorated and were used by the Imperial court and exported as far as the Middle East. For instance during the Han Dynasty principally celadon (green) and black porcelain were mainly produced. The famous blue and white porcelain was created with blue paint made from cobalt and then covered with a clear glaze, which can withstand the high temperatures of the kiln. The technical and creative innovations of Chinese potters are unique accomplishments in the cultural heritage of the world. Today, archaeological excavation and research in China are revealing new sites and new examples of the genius of the Chinese potter. HISTORY OF SHANG DYNASTY CERAMICS: During the Shang (Yin) Dynasty (1766-1027 B.C.) the potter's wheel was used to form glazed earthenware for both ceremonial as well as everyday use. Shang tombs have yielded a rich variety of ceramics, the most notable being large, painted jars that were probably burial urns. Also notable have been large footed vessels of polished black clay which had been turned on a potter's wheel. They were associated with ritual ancestor worship and ceremonies requiring the offering of special containers of food and wine. The ceremonial vessels tended to be more elaborately decorated, but most artifacts of the period (including ceramics, jades, and bronze vessels), both those for everyday use as well as most ceremonial grave goods, were of simple design. Shang kings also constructed elaborate tombs. Convinced they could carry material possessions to the next life, members of the royal household were buried with much of their personal wealth. However for everyday life the burials even included ceramic vessels for food and drinks—jars, vases, bowls, and plates. HISTORY OF ZHOU DYNASTY CERAMICS: During the Zhou (Chou) Dynasty (1027-221 B.C.), bronzes as well as ceramics became less religious or spiritual in nature, and were often given as wedding gifts for household decoration. Images of totemic animals and monsters gave way to colorful, abstract, ornamental, pieces often inlaid on the surface in gold or semiprecious stones. Bronze bells and mirrors were also popular during this period. In addition to glazed ceramics, there were new developments and styles in both wood sculpture and lacquerwork. Ceramic objects began to replace more expensive bronze vessels in tombs, and ceramics technology continued to advance. HISTORY OF HAN DYNASTY CERAMICS: During the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) grave interiors were richly furnished with a wide variety of miniature objects, usually fashioned as replicas of actual possessions, animals, or buildings. Called “spirit goods”, these items were used as substitutes for valuable possessions, and were usually produced in ceramic and were glazed or colorfully painted. The wealthy elite's increasing interest in elaborately furnished tombs led to the mass production of armies of ceramic figures made using molds. In the case of the royal burial of the sole Qin Emperor, a terra cotta army of 6,000 was produced in full size. Burial ceramics made during the Han dynasty were decorated with simple but colorful designs painted directly onto the unglazed fired pieces or with brown and green lead-based glazes that could be fired at low temperatures. HISTORY OF SIX DYNASTIES (A.D. 220-589) CERAMICS: It was beginning with the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) that grave interiors were richly furnished with a wide variety of miniature objects, usually fashioned as replicas of actual possessions, animals, or buildings. Called “spirit goods”, these items were used as substitutes for valuable possessions, and were usually produced in ceramic and were glazed or colorfully painted. The wealthy elite's increasing interest in elaborately furnished tombs led to the mass production of armies of ceramic figures made using molds. In the case of the royal burial of the sole Qin Emperor, a terra cotta army of 6,000 was produced in full size. Burial ceramics made during the Han dynasty were decorated with simple but colorful designs painted directly onto the unglazed fired pieces or with brown and green lead-based glazes that could be fired at low temperatures. The period between the collapse of the Han Dynasty in 220 A.D. and the rise of the Sui and Tang Dynasties (starting in 589 A.D.) was characterized by the fragmentation of China and a prolonged power struggle. Together with the period of the Western and Eastern Jin Dynasties, the “Three Kingdoms” together with “Southern” and the “Northern” Dynasties cover a period of three and one-half centuries during which, despite the chaotic conditions of the period, the ceramic industry developed rapidly and ceramic production flourished. By then, porcelain-making techniques in Southern China had been enhanced and the ceramics-making area and scale increasingly expanded with kiln sites spread throughout many provinces. Excavation of white porcelain objects from noble tombs shows that white porcelain was already in production in the Northern provinces, and its emergence paved the way for further development porcelain production in the coming Sui and Tang Dynasties. There were many other notable advances in ceramic arts, including green-glazed stoneware, highly durable and often fashioned into bowls and jars. The discovery of what became known as “celadon glazing” was a major development during the period. Fine ash or ash mixed with clay was painted onto the vessel and after firing it turned pale green. This rare funerary urn belongs to this class of vessels. Potters of the era continued improving the quality of these early “celadon” wares both with respect to glaze color and in body clay. The production of glazed porcelain was a significant achievement in Chinese ceramic history. It was eventually exported as far as the Philippines and Egypt. Ceramic figurines produced during the period were notable for increased detail. The most profound influence on the art of the period (including ceramics) was the Buddhist religion which came from neighboring India. Objects imported from the Middle East and Central and West Asia also strongly influenced the period’s ceramic arts. In spite of the political and social confusion of the period, major changes occurred in the spiritual life of the Chinese. Daoism, which had played a previously minor role in religious thought, was revitalized, and Buddhism reached the Chinese court from India and Tibet. The Buddhist notion of Bodhisattvas - compassionate beings who have delayed their own enlightenment in order to guide others along the right path - was integrated into existing beliefs, along with ideas of Buddhist heavens and symbols of worship. The quest for eternity gained great favor and people sought methods such as drinking mercury and other potions devised by alchemists to prolong their lives. These unsettled times were also a period of transition in the development of ceramics wares. The 'proto-celadon' wares described above were precursors to the renowned celadon wares of the Song dynasty (960–1279 A.D.). The increasing prominence of religion including Daoism and the emergence of Buddhism in China greatly expanded the design repertoire. Daoist Immortals, cosmological symbols and Buddhist guardians were all represented in ceramic forms. The replicas of humans and animals became more and more life-like, while images of the 'unreal' such as guardian spirits, became more and more imaginary and fanciful. HISTORY OF THREE KINGDOMS-SUI-TANG DYNASTIES CERAMICS: The four century period between the Han Dynasty and the Sui/Tang Dynasty was characterized by the fragmentation of China and a prolonged power struggle. Despite the chaotic conditions of the period, ceramic production flourished. There were many notable advances in ceramic arts, including green-glazed stoneware, highly durable and often fashioned into bowls and jars. Potters of the era continued improving the quality of these early “Celadon” wares both with respect to glaze color and in body clay. The production of glazed porcelain was a significant achievement in Chinese ceramic history. It was eventually exported as far as the Philippines and Egypt. Ceramic figurines produced during the period were notable for increased detail. The most profound influence on the art of the period (including ceramics) was the Buddhist religion which came from neighboring India. Objects imported from the Middle East and Central and West Asia also strongly influenced the period’s ceramic arts. Eventually China was reunified under the Tang Dynasty (618-906 A.D.). China's Golden Age was characterized by a stable government, and the resulting economic prosperity brought about a flourishing of all the arts, including painting, ceramics, metalwork, music, and poetry. Important influences from the Middle East, brought by traders and artisans from many nations, stimulated new styles in metalwork and ceramics. Colorfully glazed earthenware, especially ewers and rhytons (drinking vessels) closely resembling Persian silverwork, drew inspiration from metal prototypes. During the Tang era, the technique of producing and firing fine-grained white clay into what is known today as porcelain was perfected. The combination of fine white clay and sophisticated kiln technology gave birth to the first translucent white ceramics which were truly porcelain. Both the white and the green-glazed porcelain varieties became highly prized by both the wealthy Chinese and foreigners. The green “celadon” porcelains possessed a subtle bluish-green glaze and were characterized by their simple and elegant shapes. Both the celadon and white varieties were so popular that production on a huge scale continued at various kiln centers throughout China well into the succeeding dynasties, and the product was shipped as far as Egypt, Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan. It was also during the Tang dynasty that sancai ("three-colored") wares were first made for burial, using glazes that produced mottled and streaky effects in green, amber-brown, and cream, with an occasional addition of blue. The technique is most famed today as the beautiful multicolored glazes of the Tang dynasty pottery figures of both humans and animals. The glaze occurs on both mortuary pieces for funerary use as well as on utilitarian pieces for use in China as well as for export. HISTORY OF SONG DYNASTY (960-1279 A.D.) CERAMICS: Fifty years of chaos followed the fall of the Tang Dynasty before the rise of two competing but complementary Dynasties in China; the shorter-lived Liao to the North and the Song to the South. Liao ceramics are unique in form, glaze and design but still utilize Chinese techniques, sometimes showing Tang influence. Liao ceramics are often monochrome white and black similar to that which would be widely produced in the future during the Yuan dynasty. Other Liao ceramics are similar to Tang sancai (three color) lead glazes. The most fundamentally unique characteristics of Liao ceramics were their shapes. To the South, the arts of the Song Dynasty showed introspection and refinement. The Song emperors were among China's most culturally enlightened rulers, many were accomplished artists in their own right. Song ceramics provide a parallel to the era’s renowned landscape painting in their variety and accomplishments. The finest ceramic products included Ting ware characterized by a milky white glaze and delicately carved or impressed designs. A common motif featured lotus blossoms, which were originally a Buddhist symbol but were often used for decoration in Song secular art. Also highly regarded is vividly colored Chün ware, with splashes of red or purple painted on a blue glazed surface. It was popular in the royal court and was often used for bowls and flowerpots. Classic blue-green celadon and white porcelain continued to be produced in large quantities, most frequently found in the shape of vases. In addition to these royal favorites, a group of popular stoneware, called Tz'u-chou, was manufactured in for local use. The Tz'u-chou potters used a wide variety of decorative techniques, including glazing, painting, incising, and enameling. Chien ware was the favorite of Buddhist monks in Fujian Province who drank their tea from glossy, black-glazed bowls. During the Song Dynasty porcelain kilns were established at Jingdezhen, where porcelain is still produced today. Jingdezhen became the dominant producer due to its proximity to deposits of high-quality porcelain clay and to two major river systems for transport. Their kilns were particularly successful due to the innovation we know as assembly line techniques. Huge demand came both from a growing Chinese middle class and from foreign merchants, and led to a diversity of shapes, glazes, and decorative motifs. The Song dynasty was the most important dynasty in Chinese porcelain history, and brought prosperity in porcelain production. Amongst the most famous porcelain ever produced were exceedingly fine and delicate Ru Kiln wares which used special a glaze with orange carnelian added. The production of Ru ware lasted only 20 years, and today are so rare that only about 70 pieces are known to still exist. HISTORY OF YUAN DYNASTY CERAMICS: The Mongol invasion of China led to the fall of the Song Dynasty, the rise of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368 A.D.), and a more cosmopolitan view of the world, broadening horizons and significantly altering the Chinese. Important advances in porcelain techniques included underglaze porcelain; ground cobalt was mixed with water and painted on an unfired piece of porcelain. In the kiln, the blackish pigment turned a rich shade of blue, thus creating the famous tradition of blue-and-white ware. For centuries blue and white porcelain was produced not only for markets in China, but for export to the Muslim Middle East and Europe. Copper oxide was also used successfully as a decorative agent in the same way, creating the class of porcelains known as underglaze red. A growing demand for Chinese ceramics in the Middle East stimulated the Mongol rulers to boost ceramic output for export. Though the Mongol Yuan Dynasty was short-lived, it had a profound effect on the history of porcelain production for the next 600 years. HISTORY OF MING DYNASTY CERAMICS: The Mongol Yuan Dynasty’s rule ended with the establishment of a native Chinese dynasty, known as the Ming (1368-1644 A.D.). The Ming period is famous for its decorative arts. Ceramic production increased dramatically, and foreign markets expanded greatly as underglaze blue and red porcelain became increasingly popular for export. In addition, enameling was introduced. A double-fire process was discovered by which an object was first fired at the high temperature needed for porcelain, then painted with the desired colors, such as green, yellow, or purple, and fired a second time. This invention allowed for an almost infinite variety of bright colors to decorate the finest Chinese ceramics. Many new styles appeared, such as the famille wares, which were especially popular in the European markets. In the later half of the Ming dynasty, European traders established direct contact with China and stimulated the ever-growing ceramics market to produce objects with new shapes and designs. Perhaps the most famous type of ceramics made during this period are the (cobalt) blue and white porcelains. These were white porcelain bodies painted with underglaze blue and then covered with a transparent glaze before firing. Not only produced in vast quantities for imperial use, they were also exported as far as Turkey. While styles of decorative motif and vessel shape changed with each new Ming emperor, the quality of Ming blue and whites are indisputably superior to that of any other time period. Throughout the Ming dynasty, the dragon (representing the male) and the phoenix (representing the female or dragons bride) were the most popular decorative motifs on ceramic wares. The production of “sancai” (three-color) porcelain was also of remarkable quality, especially of human and animal figures, and such pieces remain much sought after even to present time. HISTORY OF QING DYNASTY CERAMICS: The Qing (Ch’ing) Dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.) was the last imperial dynasty of China. Imperial patronage stimulated one of China's most intense periods of ceramic production, characterized by unmatched technical expertise and refinement in blue and white, monochrome, and polychrome ceramics. Colorful enamel porcelain overglazes were invented. The process of enameling was further developed, along with a nearly endless number of new shades for monochrome-glazed porcelain. An innovative new technique produced five-colored porcelains. Applying a variety of under-glaze pigments to decorative schemes of flower, landscape and figurative scenes, these five-colored porcelains gained great renown in Western Europe. In almost every major European museum, you will find either five-colored or monochromatic porcelain (in blue, red, yellow or pink) from this period. The finest export wares were produced for European markets in the 17th and 18th centuries. Perhaps the most exciting pottery was produced in small, provincial workshops. The potters here did not compete with the elaborate imperial kilns, but instead created delightful wares for local patrons. Small porcelain items such as teapots, pen rests, and water droppers were commonly found on most any gentleman's desk from China to Europe. HISTORY OF CHINESE CIVILIZATION: Remains of Homo erectus, found near Beijing, have been dated back 460,000 years. Recent archaeological studies in the Yangtse River area have provided evidence of ancient cultures (and rice cultivation) flourishing more than 11,500 years ago, contrary to the conventional belief that the Yellow River area was the cradle of the Chinese civilization. The Neolithic period flourished with a multiplicity of cultures in different regions dating back to around 5000 B.C. There is strong evidence of two so-called pottery cultures, the Yang-shao culture (3950-1700 B.C.) and the Lung-shan culture (2000-1850 B.C). Written records go back more than 3,500 years, and the written history is (as is the case with Ancient Egypt) divided into dynasties, families of kings or emperors. The voluminous records kept by the ancient Chinese provide us with knowledge into their strong sense of their real and mythological origins – as well as of their neighbors. By about 2500 B.C. the Chinese knew how to cultivate and weave silk and were trading the luxurious fabric with other nations by about 1000 B.C. The production and value of silk tell much about the advanced state of early Chinese civilization. Cultivation of silkworms required mulberry tree orchards, temperature controls and periodic feedings around the clock. More than 2,000 silkworms were required to produce one pound of silk. The Chinese also mastered spinning, dyeing and weaving silk threads into fabric. Bodies were buried with food containers and other possessions, presumably to assist the smooth passage of the dead to the next world. The relative success of ancient China can be attributed to the superiority of their ideographic written language, their technology, and their political institutions; the refinement of their artistic and intellectual creativity; and the sheer weight of their numbers. A recurrent historical theme has been the unceasing struggle of the sedentary Chinese against the threats posed by non-Chinese peoples on the margins of their territory in the north, northeast, and northwest. China saw itself surrounded on all sides by so-called barbarian peoples whose cultures were demonstrably inferior by Chinese standards. This China-centered ("sinocentric") view of the world was still undisturbed in the nineteenth century, at the time of the first serious confrontation with the West. Of course the ancient Chinese showed a remarkable ability to absorb the people of surrounding areas into their own civilization. The process of assimilation continued over the centuries through conquest and colonization until what is now known as China Proper was brought under unified rule. XIA DYNASTY HISTORY: The Xia (Hsia) Dynasty was the first recorded dynasty, and is dated roughly from 2200 B.C. to 1700 B.C. Until scientific excavations were made at early bronze-age sites at Anyang in Henan Province, in 1928, it was difficult to separate myth from reality in regard to the Xia. In fact conventional wisdom at the time held that the Xia Dynasty was imaginary. But since then, and especially in the 1960s and 1970s, archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the existence of Xia civilization in the same locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts. The Xia period marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the typical Chinese urban civilization of the Shang dynasty. The rulers of the period held power for five centuries before (reportedly) becoming corrupt, and subsequently overthrown by the Shang Dynasty. SHANG DYNASTY HISTORY: Thousands of archaeological finds in the Yellow River Valley provide evidence about the Shang (Yin) dynasty (1700-1027 B.C.). Founded by the rebel leader who overthrew the last Xia emperor, the civilization was based on agriculture, hunting and animal husbandry. Millet, wheat, barley, and, possibly, some rice were grown. Silkworms were cultivated, and pigs, dogs, sheep, and oxen were raised. Two significant developments during the Shang Dynasty were the development of a writing system, as revealed in archaic Chinese inscriptions found on tortoise shells and flat cattle bones (oracle bones), and the use of bronze metallurgy. The written language developed contained over 2,000 written characters, many of which remain in use today. The bronze castings, often ceremonial vessels, were amongst the best in the world. Bronze weapons and other tools found indicate a high level of metallurgy and craftsmanship. A line of hereditary Shang emperors ruled over much of northern China, and engaged neighboring settlements and nomadic steppes herdsmen in frequent warfare. The principal cities were centers of glittering court life, punctuated with rituals to honor both the spirits as well as the sacred ancestors. The Shang rulers who were also the “high priest” of the prevalent form of ancestor worship, were buried with many valuables as well as domestic articles, presumably for use in the afterlife. Hundreds of commoners (perhaps slaves) were buried alive with the royal corpse. ZHOU (CHOU) DYNASTY & WARRING STATES PERIOD HISTORY: Sharing the language and culture of the Shang, the Zhou (Chou) Dynasty through conquest and colonization gradually enveloped much of North China. The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other, from 1027 to 221 B.C. The early decentralization of the Zhou Dynasty has oftentimes been compared to Europe’s medieval feudal system. However social organization in the Zhou Dunasty was more predicated upon family and tribal ties than feudal legal bonds. Philosophers of the period enunciated the doctrine of the "mandate of heaven", the notion that the ruler (the "son of heaven") governed by divine right. In reality the emperor shared power with the local lords. At times the local lords were oftentimes more powerful than the emperor. In the later dynasty, large scale conflicts oftentimes erupted between rival local lords (eventually culminating in the “Warring States” period). The late Zhou Dynasty’s potpourri of city-states became progressively centralized, characterized by greater central control over local governments and systematic agricultural taxation. The iron-tipped, ox-drawn plow, together with improved irrigation techniques, brought higher agricultural yields, which, in turn, supported a steady rise in population. The growth in population was accompanied by the production of much new wealth, and a new class of merchants and traders arose. However in 771 B.C. the Zhou court was sacked, and its king was killed by invading barbarians who were allied with rebel lords. The Zhou retreated eastward relocating their capital city. Today historians divide the Zhou Dynasty into the Western Zhou (1027-771 B.C.) and Eastern Zhou (770-221 B.C.). The west was abandoned, and the power of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty gradually diminished. The Eastern Dynasty itself is further divided by historians into two periods reflecting the accelerating fragmentation and disintegration of China. The first from 770 to 476 B.C. is called the Spring and Autumn Period. The second is known as the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), as China completely dissolved. Though marked by disunity and civil strife, these two periods marked an era of cultural advancements known today as the "golden age" of China. Commerce was stimulated by the introduction of coinage. The use of iron not only revolutionized the production of weaponry but also the manufacture of farm implements. An atmosphere of reform was the result of the competition between rival warlords to build strong and loyal armies, requiring increased economic production and a strong tax base. This created a demand for ever-increasing numbers of skilled, literate officials and teachers (a “civil service”), recruited on merit. Public works such as flood control, irrigation projects, and canal digging were executed on a grand scale. Enormous walls were built around cities and along the broad stretches of the northern frontier. Many of the era’s intellectuals were employed as advisers by China’s rulers on the methods of government, war, and diplomacy. So many different philosophies developed during these two periods that the era is often referred to as “The Hundred Schools of Thought”. The period produced many of the great classical writings on which Chinese practices were to be based for the next two and one-half millennia, including those of Confucius (551-479 B.C.). HAN/QIN DYNASTY HISTORY: The History of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.) actually begins in 221 B.C. when the western frontier state of Qin (Ch’in), the most aggressive of the Warring States, subjugated the last of its rival states, bringing the era of the Warring States to an end. For the first time most of what eventually came to be “China” was unified. The new Qin (Chin) King proclaimed himself a deity, and ruthlessly imposed a centralized nonhereditary bureaucratic system throughout the empire, establishing standardized legal codes, bureaucratic procedures, written language, and coinage. In an effort to even standardize thought and scholarship many dissenting Confucian scholars were banished or executed; their books confiscated and burned. To fend off barbarian intrusion, the fortification walls built by the various warring states were connected to make a 5,000-kilometer-long great wall. When the powerful emperor of Ch’in died, he was entombed in a massive burial mound. Recently excavated the royal grave revealed an army of more than 6,000 terra-cotta human figures and horses intended to protect the emperor's final resting place. In ancient China his death was followed by a short civil war and the emergence of the Han Dynasty. The new empire retained much of the Qin administrative structure but retreated from the harsh and centralized rule by establishing vassal principalities in many areas. Confucian ideals of government were reinstated, and once again Confucian scholars gained prominent status as the core of the civil service. Intellectual, literary, and artistic endeavors revived and flourished. Technological advances included the invention of paper and porcelain. The Han Empire expanded westward, making possible relatively secure caravan traffic across Central Asia to Antioch, Baghdad, and Alexandria. Often called the “silk route”, it enabled the export of Chinese silk to the Roman Empire. The Earlier Han reached the zenith of its power under Emperor Wu Ti, who reigned from 140 to 87 BC. Almost all of what today constitutes China was under imperial rule. HISTORY OF SIX DYNASTIES (A.D. 220-589): The period between the collapse of the Han Dynasty in 220 A.D. and the rise of the Sui and Tang Dynasties (starting in 589 A.D.) was characterized by the fragmentation of China and a prolonged power struggle. Together with the period of the Western and Eastern Jin Dynasties, the “Three Kingdoms” together with “Southern” and the “Northern” Dynasties cover a period of three and one-half centuries of chaotic conditions. In spite of the political and social confusion of the period, major changes occurred in the spiritual life of the Chinese. Daoism, which had played a previously minor role in religious thought, was revitalized, and Buddhism reached the Chinese court from India and Tibet. The Buddhist notion of Bodhisattvas - compassionate beings who have delayed their own enlightenment in order to guide others along the right path - was integrated into existing beliefs, along with ideas of Buddhist heavens and symbols of worship. The quest for eternity gained great favor and people sought methods such as drinking mercury and other potions devised by alchemists to prolong their lives. HISTORY OF THREE KINGDOMS (A.D. 304-589)/SUI DYNASTY (581-618 A.D.)/TANG DYNASTY (A.D. 618-907): The collapse of the Han dynasty was followed by nearly four centuries (220-589 A.D.) of relative anarchy. Petty kingdoms waged incessant warfare against one another. Unity was restored briefly in the early years of the Jin Dynasty (A.D. 265-420), but by 317 A.D. China was again disintegrating into a succession of petty dynasties that was to last from 304 to 589 A.D. China was reunified in A.D. 589 by a military leader from Northwest China who founded the short-lived Sui Dynasty (581-618 A.D.). The tyrannical Sui Dynasty met an early demise due to the government's imposition of crushing taxes, compulsory labor, and ruthless attempts to homogenize the various sub-cultures. Though monumental engineering feats such as the completion of the Grand Canal and the reconstruction of the Great Wall were accomplished, it was at an enormous price. There were noteworthy technological advances including the invention of gunpowder (for use in fireworks) and the wheelbarrow, as well as significant advances in medicine, astronomy, and cartography. However weakened by costly and disastrous military campaigns against Korea and faced with a disaffected population, the dynasty disintegrated through a combination of popular revolts, disloyalty, and a coup which culminated in the assassination of the Emperor of the Sui Dynasty. One of the coup leaders installed his father as emperor, thus founding the T'ang Dynasty (618 to 907 A.D.), and eventually succeeded his father to the throne. The Tang dynasty is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization. During the Tang dynasty China became an expansive, cosmopolitan empire. The capital city became the world's largest city, a center of culture and religious toleration, and attracted traders and immigrants from all over the world, enriching Chinese art and culture with their foreign influences. Stimulated by contact with India and the Middle East, the empire saw a flowering of creativity in many fields. Originating in India around the time of Confucius, Buddhism flourished during the Tang period, becoming a distinct variation and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture. The system of civil service examinations for recruitment of the bureaucracy, designed to draw the best talents into government, was so well refined that it survived into the 20th century. The civil service which developed created a large class of literate Confucian scholar-officials who often functioned as intermediaries between the grass-roots level and the government. Branches of both the imperial and local governments were restructured and enhanced to provide a centralized administration, and an elaborate code of administrative and penal law was enacted. The military exploits of the earliest rules created a Tang Empire even larger than that of the Han. Block printing was invented, making the written word available to vastly greater audiences and the Tang period became a golden age of literature and art. Handicraft guilds, the use of paper money, and commercial centralization all started during the late Tang Dynasty. However by the middle of the eighth century A.D., Tang power was ebbing. A unified military had dissolved into a series of petty military chiefdoms who regularly withheld taxes and support from a crumbling central government. Domestic economic instability and military defeat by Arabs in Central Asia marked the beginning of five centuries of steady decline. Misrule, court intrigues, economic mismanagement, and popular rebellions weakened the empire, making it possible for northern invaders to shatter the unity of the dynasty in 907 A.D. The next half-century saw the fragmentation of China into five northern dynasties and ten southern kingdoms. HISTORY OF THE SONG DYNASTY (960-1279 A.D.)/LIAO DYNASTY (A.D. 907-1125): The collapse of the Tang Dynasty in 907 A.D. formed the backdrop for the rise the Sung and Liao Dynasties. During the fifty years following the collapse China fragmented into ten different kingdoms, constantly in conflict with one another, and a rapid succession of five dynasties formed and then collapsed. The Five Dynasties period ended in 960 A.D. when a military leader seized the throne and proclaimed the establishment of the Sung (Song) Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) and reunified most of China. However the Mongols who were responsible for the demise of the preceding Tang Dynasty formed their own kingdom in North China known as the Liao Dynasty (907-1125 A.D.). For the only time in China, the contemporaneous monarchs of both the Liao and Song Dynasties recognized one another as possessing “the mandate of heaven” to rule China as the “son of heaven” – a situation similar to that of Ancient Egypt whereby one Dynasty ruled Upper Egypt, the other Lower Egypt, both Pharaohs recognizing one another’s divine right to rule. Notwithstanding the shorter-lived Northern Liao Dynasty, the Song Dynasty proved to be the longer lived, and controlled most of China. The founders of the Song Dynasty built an effective centralized bureaucracy staffed with civilian scholar-officials. Notable for the development of cities not only as administrative entities, but also as centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce, the Sung Dynasty gave rise to a new group of wealthy commoners, the mercantile class. Printing and education spread, private trade grew, and a market economy began to link the coastal provinces and the interior. Landholding and government employment were no longer the only means of gaining wealth and prestige. Unfortunately fearing a repeat of the anarchy created in the Tang Dynasty by petty military rulers in the frontier areas, the Sung Monarchs severely limited the power and authority of provincial military commanders. They were subordinate to centrally appointed civilian officials who had replaced the regional military governors of the Tang. Though this gave greater power and control to the emperor and his palace bureaucracy, it also led a chronic problem with military weakness. Weakness which proved to be fatal to the Sung Dynasty as they confronted the Mongols under the leadership of Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. HISTORY OF THE YUAN DYNASTY: The history of the Yuan Dynasty (1275-1368 A.D.) is of Mongol rule – the first alien dynasty to rule China. By the mid-thirteenth century the Mongols under Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, had conquered North China, Korea, the Muslim kingdoms of Central Asia - even twice penetrating Europe. With the resources of a vast empire, Kublai Khan turned his ambition against the Southern Sung Dynasty, which subsequently collapsed in 1279 A.D. Under the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, the Central Asian trade routes were entirely under Mongol control and more secure than ever before. Commercially oriented infrastructure improvements encouraged overland as well as maritime commerce. Reciprocal trade between West and East increased correspondingly, and the increased contact with Western Asia and Europe brought about an enhanced degree of cultural exchange. The cultural diversity resulted in the development of drama, written novels, and increased use of the written language. Western musical instruments were introduced enriching performing arts. Advances were realized in the fields of travel literature, cartography and geography, and scientific education. Certain key Chinese innovations, such as printing techniques, porcelain production, playing cards, and medical literature, were introduced in Europe, while the production of thin glass and cloisonne became popular in China. The first records of travel to China by Westerners date from this time, the most famous of course by Venetian Marco Polo. The Mongols undertook extensive public works. Roads, communications, and water distribution were reorganized and improved. Granaries were ordered built throughout the empire against the possibility of famines. As the terminus of a completely renovated Grand Canal, Beijing was rebuilt with new palace grounds that included artificial lakes, hills and mountains, and parks. Nonetheless discontent grew within China as Confucian officials and scholars resented Mongol restrictions against Chinese holding important offices. Inflation and oppressive taxes alienated Chinese peasants. During the 1330’s and 1340’s crop failures, famine, and the repeated flooding of several major rivers in North China led to uprisings in almost every province, and several major rebel leaders emerged. Aided by rivalry amongst competing Mongol heirs to the thrown, in the 1360s a former Buddhist monk turned rebel army leader was successful in extending his power throughout the Yangtze Valley and eventually overthrew the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. HISTORY OF THE MING DYNASTY: The Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.) was founded when a Han Chinese peasant and former Buddhist monk turned rebel army leader and overthrew the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. In two purges approximately 10,000 scholars, administrators, and bureaucrats and their families were put to death in an attempt to stabilize the political situation and extinguish the Mongol influence – any possible dissent was exterminated. Imperial power was reasserted throughout China and East Asia, and the former Mongol civil government was reestablished Chinese. Literature was patronized, schools were founded, and the administration of justice was reformed. The Great Wall was extended and the Grand Canal improved. The empire was divided into 15 provinces, most of which still bear their original names. With its first (Southern) capital at Nanjing, and a subsequent (Northern) capital at Beijing, the Ming reached the zenith of power during the first quarter of the fifteenth century. The Ming had inherited the world’s most powerful maritime force, and China was at the time the world leader in science and technology. However in an attempt to extinguish the memory of Mongol rule, the Ming rejected all foreign influences. Given the stability of the period, it was not difficult to promote a belief that the Chinese had achieved the most satisfactory civilization on earth and that nothing foreign was needed or welcome. For the population of 100 million, there were no disruptions and prolonged stability of the economy, arts, society, and politics. Finding the concept of expansion and commercial ventures alien to Chinese ideas of government, Conservative Confucian bureaucrats and administrators pressed for a revival of a strict agrarian society. The Chinese emperor forbade overseas travels and stopped all building and repair of oceangoing junks. Disobedient merchants and sailors were killed, and the greatest navy of the world willed itself into extinction. Consequences of this isolationist conservatism included protracted struggles against the Mongols, Japanese pirates ravaging the coast of China, incursions by the Japanese into Korea, and eventually the weakening of the Ming Dynasty. The quality of imperial leadership deteriorated, and court eunuchs came to exercise great control over the emperor, fostering discontent and factionalism in the government. Ripe for a takeover, China again fell to alien forces when in 1644 A.D. the Manchus took Beijing and became masters of North China, establishing the last Chinese Imperial Dynasty, The Qing. HISTORY OF THE QING DYNASTY: For the second time in its history, China found itself ruled by outsiders when the Manchus took Beijing and overthrew the Ming Dynasty, establishing the last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911 A.D.). The Manchus retained many institutions of Ming and earlier Chinese Dynasties, continuing Confucian court practices and temple rituals. The Manchu emperors supported Chinese literary and historical projects of enormous scope. The survival of much of China's ancient literature is attributed to these projects. However the Manchu were suspicious of Han Chinese, so the Qing Dynasty rulers took steps to ensure that the Manchus were not simply absorbed into the larger, dominant Han Chinese population. Han Chinese were prohibited from migrating into the Manchu homeland, and Manchus were forbidden to engage in trade or manual labor. Intermarriage between the two groups was forbidden. In many government positions a system of dual appointments was used--the Chinese appointee was required to do the substantive work and the Manchu to ensure Han loyalty to the Qing Dynasty. The Qing regime was determined to protect itself not only from internal rebellion but also from foreign invasion. After all of China had been subjugated, the Manchus conquered Outer Mongolia, gained control of much of Central Asia and Tibet. The Qing became the first dynasty to eliminate successfully all danger to China from across its land borders. The power of the Chinese Empire reached the highest point in its 2000-year history, and then collapsed. The collapse was partly due to internal decay, but as well due to external pressures exerted by the Western European powers. Ironically the fatal threat to the Qing Dynasty did not come overland as in the past, but by sea in the form of traders, missionaries, and soldiers of fortune from Europe. The mindset that China was in every respect superior to outside “barbarians” resulted in an inability to evaluate correctly or respond flexibly to the new challenges presented by technologically and militarily superior Western European countries. Ultimately this cultural rigidity resulted in the demise of the Qing and the collapse of the entire millennia-old framework of dynastic rule. China was literally dismembered by Western European countries who fought over the carcass like so many wild animals. Shortly after the Sino-Japanese War the Western-educated Sun Yat-sen had initiated a revolutionary movement which established a republican form of government, overthrowing the last imperial dynasty. Of course the Republic of China was in turn overthrown by the Communists after the conclusion of World War II. SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: Due to its fragile nature this particular piece is only shipped in an oversized box with lots of Styrofoam peanuts. The shipping weight of this item is 5 pounds. Additional items shipped together do result in a discount. We can add most other items we offer to the shipment for only $0.99 each. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through stamps.com, Shipsaver.com, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). International tracking is provided free by the USPS for certain countries, other countries are at additional cost. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. Please note for international purchasers we will do everything we can to minimize your liability for VAT and/or duties. But we cannot assume any responsibility or liability for whatever taxes or duties may be levied on your purchase by the country of your residence. If you don’t like the tax and duty schemes your government imposes, please complain to them. We have no ability to influence or moderate your country’s tax/duty schemes. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked 30-day return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less any non-refundable fees imposed by eBay. Please note that eBay may not refund payment processing fees on returns beyond a 30-day purchase window. So except for shipping costs, we will refund all proceeds from the sale of a return item, eBay may not always follow suit. Obviously we have no ability to influence, modify or waive eBay policies. ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Eastern Europe and Central Asia several times a year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay goes to support worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient/antique jewelry and gemstones, a reflection of our academic backgrounds. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia antique gemstones are commonly dismounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them originally crafted a century or more ago. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or eBay message, so please feel free to write. Condition: Please see detailed condition description below (click "additional details" button on your cell phone or tablet)., Material: Ancient Clay

PicClick Insights - Medieval China Buddhist Temple Shrine Bodhisattva Tile Sintered Clay HUGE AD999 PicClick Exclusive

  •  Popularity - 7 watchers, 0.0 new watchers per day, 1,653 days for sale on eBay. Super high amount watching. 0 sold, 1 available.
  •  Best Price -
  •  Seller - 5,283+ items sold. 0% negative feedback. Great seller with very good positive feedback and over 50 ratings.

People Also Loved PicClick Exclusive