On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
A pair of such pillars surmounted by a lintel would have formed the doorway into a Han-dynasty burial chamber. The figures sculpted in the round on top of each pillar were thought to have powers to protect the deceased on their afterlife journey. Bands of swirling dragons run down the center of each pillar for the same purpose. Both pillars have a design of figures under double roof gates (que): at the bottom on one pillar and between the legs of the creature on the other. In the Han dynasty, the que gate symbolized the entrance to the tomb complex and the beginning of the passage to Heaven.
206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.
48 13/16 x 7 7/8 in. (124 x 20 cm)
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