Term Paper on Chinese History


Term Paper on Chinese History

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Term Paper on Chinese History: Sample

The works of the Cave of the Seven Buddhas illustrate a most important transitional phase in the history of Chinese Buddhist sculpture between the early art of Y?n-kang and Lung-m?n and the full Sui-T'ang modelling styles. The change from the stiff hieratical style of the full Northern Wei period to these naturalistic representations marks a complete break with accepted sculptural standards seen at their most developed in the highly spiritualized statues of Lung-m?n. In these the heavy drapery was arranged schematically and rhythmically over the flat body which artists never interpreted in human terms. The Mai-chi-shan sculptures are significant in so far as we can see how this early impassivity of face and figure steadily broke down, its place to be taken by new concepts which revolutionized Chinese sculpture. In plate 97 the folds over the pedestal are beginning to relax. The two halves of the robe are skilfully contrasted and the foot which emerges is no longer as in earlier times, flatly and schematically represented. It is a human foot carved in the round with shapely ankle and naturalistic toes. The two standing figures in plates 77 and 78 show the next step in the development in which the drapery becomes far more naturalistic, hanging with easy if heavy grace on slender human frames. The body begins to appear beneath the robes. In plate 79, although the chest is flat, the stomach swells where it is drawn in by a tight belt and the gentle roundness of the abdomen is emphasized by curved incised lines which follow the contours of the bulge.

The faces share in the re-humanizing process. Modest maidens begin to take the place of the sexless, aloof divinities and attendants. For the first time we see everyday figures elevated to the ranks of religious statuary. The archaic smile ends in what one feels are almost dimples. Such figures come as a surprise and a relief after the rigid formulae of about AD 500 which en masse tend to weary the imagination. The figures in plates 75, 79 and 91, some of the most attractive of the whole site, are simply dressed with hair discreetly tied and surmounted by a flower. The neck-plate, a basic decoration on Buddhist attendants, is flat and undecorated. The sculptors have not yet succumbed to the temptation to load their figures with heavy and ornate jewellery. The eyes have a frank and worldly look. Fortunately the heads of these figures have escaped restoration.