Ariadne Galleries

Plaques with Figurative Scenes
Period: Han Dynasty, Second century BC
Culture: Chinese
Material: Gilt Bronze
Dimensions: 5 cm H
image 1
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The openwork treatment of the plaques accentuates the unusual pictorial quality of the scene as do the borders, which act like a frame. Even within such a restricted format, several subtle pictorial devices define the relationship between the four figures.


Several details reveal that there is an imbalance in status between the two seated figures, with the figure towards the centre of the plaque having the more prominent position. He is also seated on a higher platform than his companion. They are separated by a small table or cooking pot over which an offering is being presented to the central figure. The difference in status between the two is again made apparent by the manner of offering. The figure to the left uses both hands to present his offering while the recipient is rather casually accepting it with one hand; his other arm is shown propping him up with its sleeve hitched.


The figures' garments are typical of Han dynasty dress with their long sleeves, rolled collars and low waists, seen more commonly in pottery funerary figurines of the period. However, much of our knowledge of the conventions of Han dress come from tomb reliefs and paintings, to which these plaques are related.



Private Collection, Hong Kong, 1968.
With Ariadne, 1991.