Immortals Riding Dragons: Sections of a Tomb Pediment

A work made of gray earthenware with traces of slip and polychrome pigments.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of gray earthenware with traces of slip and polychrome pigments.

Date:

Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220), 1st century B.C./A.D.

Artist:

China; probably from Henan province

About this artwork

These triangular sculptures originally fit under the pitched roof of a burial chamber constructed of clay bricks. The position of similar panels discovered intact suggests that they originally formed two ends of a pediment that divided a chamber in half.

The panels are carved and painted to depict winged figures mounted on dragons striding over hills or waves. In Han mythology, such beings are described as immortals (xian). Having achieved eternal life, these immortals were endowed with the power to fly and roamed freely about the universe. The depiction of these remarkable beings in tombs reflects a widespread belief that the soul of the deceased could leave its earth-bound existence, ascend to heaven, and become an immortal. The ascent of the soul to the realm of the immortals is a major theme in Han art.

On View

Asian Art, Gallery 133

Title

Immortals Riding Dragons: Sections of a Tomb Pediment

Origin

China

Date

206 AD–220 AD

Medium

Gray earthenware with traces of slip and polychrome pigments

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Gordon Palmer

Reference Number

1978.1029

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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