Han Mural Tombs: Reflection of Correlative Cosmology through Mural Paintings

  • Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik
Keywords: Han mural tombs, correlative cosmology of yin-yang wuxing, Fuxi, Nüwa, four animals

Abstract

The main research materials of this study were tombs with murals from the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.). The article deals with the issue of the reflection of ancient Chinese
cosmologic concepts in the iconographic design of Han mural paintings. A thorough analysis of the iconographic design of murals shows that they possessed not only a decorative function, but together with the architectural structure and other burial objects reflected the entire cosmic image. The analysis of tomb paintings reveals a developed correlative cosmology yin-yang wuxing which manifests its concrete image in symbolic codes of individual iconographic motifs. The article first displays a general review of tombs with murals, and then focuses on depictions in Han tomb murals, discussing representation of the images of celestial bodies, the symbolic polarity of the cosmical forces yin and yang, the symbolism of the four directions and the four seasons and the symbolic circling of the five xings.

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Author Biography

Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik
Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik is Assistant Professor of Chinese Art History and Deputy Head of the Department of Asian and African Studies at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Aškerčeva 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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Published
2011-12-01
How to Cite
Vampelj Suhadolnik, N. (2011). Han Mural Tombs: Reflection of Correlative Cosmology through Mural Paintings. Asian Studies, -15(1), 19-48. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2011.-15.1.19-48
Section
The Notions of Life, Values, Philosophy and Aesthetics in Early Chinese Art