"Appreciation and Analysis of the
Murals Unearthed from a Song Tomb at Wang Shang Village in Dengfeng,
Zhang Songlin and Zhang Deshui
Shoucangjia 38, 2-5
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In this piece, the authors introduce and analyze
the wall paintings found in a small brick tomb excavated at Wangshang
Village, Dajindian Township, in Dengfeng, Henan province in March 1993
by the Zhengzhou City Cultural Relics Unit. The authors' discussion
derives from two main topics: the subject matter and the art historical
value of the wall paintings.
The paintings in this tomb are arrayed
primarily in the tomb chamber walls and ceiling and on both walls flanking
the passageway. Not counting the paintings on the doors on the south
side of the tomb chamber, the other seven walls each contain one independent
picture measuring 1.2 meters high and 1.05 meters wide, the composition
of which occupies the entire wall. The walls of the passage each depict
male attendants, while with flowers and grasses adorn the tomb entrance.
Propitious omens, clouds, and cranes flit across the ceiling.
Figures paintings fall into four types: male attendants holding a broom;
male attendants with hands crossed at the breast; female attendants
in groups of three; and female attendants accompanied by children.
Landscapes with figures in them either depict immortals conversing on
the Dao or immortals ascending skyward.
Among the flower-and-bird paintings, we see peacocks amid plum and bamboo
and three cranes in reeds and bamboo. There are two mural sections with
non-figural decorative motifs.
Although the murals are not large, not exceeding five square meters
each), these truly reflect the degree to which painting style evloved
during the Song period (960-1279). Even in this tomb of relatively small
scope, the pictorial program includes figure painting, figures in landscape,
and bird-and-flower scenes, all of high artistry -- an array of gems
that fill the eyes.
After analysis of the subject matter and technique of the paintings,
the authors conclude that "the Song murals at Wang Shang Village
inherited Tang foundations in painting, and are certainly highly-developed
masterpieces. . . . From this rare artistic treasure, we can draw important
lessons and comparisons towards the study of Song dynasty painting."HT
*The illustrations provided here, reprinted from Shoucangjia,
did not indicate the location of murals within the tomb.