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Chinese Bronzes of the Shang and Zhou Periods
Han Dynasty Bronzes
Early Chinese Ceramics
Sculpture from Tombs
Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
Tang and Liao Dynasty Metalwork
Ceramics of the Song and Jin Periods
Porcelains of the Yuan and Early Ming Periods
Imperial Chinese Ceramics of the 15th Century
Ceramics of the Late Ming Period
Qing Dynasty Porcelain
Landscape Painting in China
Jade and Lacquer in China
Bixie (Mythical Animal)
North China; Western Han period (206 B.C.E. - C.E. 9)
Gilt bronze
H. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm); L. 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm); W. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
The Han fascination with the supernatural gave rise to numerous auspicious mythical animals, some of which survived in the popular imagination until later times. The bixie ("averter of evil") is a winged feline creature with two horns believed to appear during eras of good government. Figures of winged felines had appeared in China as early as the 5th century B.C.E. and probably represent a borrowing from Western Asia where they had long been popular, but the addition of horns seems to have been a Chinese innovation. Figures of bixie range from small gilt bronzes and jades to monumental stone figures guarding tombs. The convincing realism and sense of movement of this piece are typical of Han versions. However, the somewhat slack casting and the uneven quality of the gilding suggest a later date, possibly during the Song (960-1279) or Ming (1368-1644) periods.
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