Ancient Carvings

The life of Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) nobility is revealed in an exhibition of stone rubbings at the Liu Haisu Art Museum.

The show, which runs until May 27, showcases 100 rubbings from engraved stone paintings and 10 original stone sculptures from Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province.

"These Han Dynasty engraved stones are precious national treasures, and Xuzhou is an especially rich source," says museum curator Zhang Peicheng.

A display of the engraved stones from tombs or ancestral temples from Xuzhou would be a logistical nightmare due to their weight, but the rubbings offer the next best thing to the actual pieces.

The subjects carved on the stones range from scenes from the lives of nobility and peasants toiling in fields. The portrayals of the rarefied world of the ancient Chinese aristocracy are the most fascinating. Scenes of hunting, dancing, drinking and gamb-ling, all vividly and realistically presented, paint a picture of the privileged class.

Although the craftsmen didn't sign the stones, each is a unique work of art, involving highly skilled painters and sculptors. In order to create the stones, the artists made detailed carvings to outline each figure, and later embossed them.

"The settings and scenes are beautiful and filled with wisdom.," Zhang adds.

On-site rubbings from the Xuzhou stones will also be performed.

( May 10, 2002)