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When talking about sculptures, people will most likely think of the ancient Roman architectural sculptures or the Greek nude sculptures; few are acquainted with the history or characteristics of Chinese sculpture. In fact, Chinese sculptural art, while differing greatly from its western counterparts, has thrived in a long historical process of development in many aspects.

Chinese sculptors have sculpted delicate objects, such as figures, animals, plants and landscapes, with a number of new kinds of raw materials, such as sand and coal, apart from the traditional bronze and jade . Many of the works have become precious artistic pearls in the treasure house of Chinese art.

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Art on Coal
The first China Coal Carving Artworks Exhibition was launched in Liupanshui city in Southwest China's Guizhou Province on July 30. It is the first large-scale coal carvings exhibition in China and the world to feature several innovative characteristics -- its grand scale, new contents and unique materials.
The Giant Stone Buddha at Leshan
A 70-meter-high giant stone Buddha sits in the beautiful Leshan Mountain at the confluence of the Dadu, Qingyi and Minjiang rivers. Ten people together can sit in the Buddha's hair bun and the space between his ear and face can hold two standing people. Two people lying head to head and linking hands are shorter than his toe, and the crown of an ordinary person's head does not reach the top of his foot. The stone Buddha in his entirety can only be viewed from the other side of the river.
Dough Sculpture
Molding human figures and animals from clay or glutinous rice flour is a popular folk art in both urban and rural areas in China.
Eagle Tripod and Dog Pitcher
Ancient Chinese people living along the Yellow and Yangtze rivers began to make pottery and clay figures towards the end of the Primitive Society about 6000 to 4000 years ago.
Historical Pictures on Monuments
Most of the ancient Chinese sculptures were religious artifacts or tomb engravings. After the Qing Dynasty, religious ideas lost their attraction, the amount of religious architecture was reduced, and the old tomb, grotto and temple sculptures fell into disrepair because of social changes. After the May Fourth Movement, many Chinese young people went abroad to study Western cultures to seek ideas for reform. From the 192Os to the 194Os, Li Jinfa, Liu Kaiqu, Zhang Chongren, Hua Tianyou, Cheng Manshu, Wang Linyi, Zeng Zhushao and Zhou Qingding studied sculptural knowledge and skills in the West and spread them into China, laying the foundation for the development of the art form after the founding of New China.
Horse Stepping
The Western Han Dynasty (206B.C.-A.D.23) was very powerful during Emperor Wudi's reign. To subdue the ethnic Xiongnu invaders, the emperor sent troops to fight against them. The commander of the emperor's troops, Huo Qubing, was a young man, who defeated the Xiongnu army six times in the Qilian Mountain area and made brilliant military achievements. Unfortunately Huo died at the age of 24. A big tomb in the shape of the Qilian Mountain was built to commemorate the young army commander Stone carvings of humans and animals stood in front of the tomb as decoration.
Lions at the Gate
The lion is known as the king of animals. The first lion was presented to China during the Eastern Han Dynasty by a king from the Western Regions.
New Development Stage for Chinese Sculptures
The picture on the next page depicts the sculpture of a female heel-and-toe walking athlete, titled Walking into the Worm. (Fig.3-26) It was created by Tian Jinduo and won the first prize in the First Chinese City sculpture Appraisal in 1987.
Rent Collection Yard
In the mid 1960s, thematic interior sculpture flourished in China. Among the best-known of these interior sculptures is Rent Collection Yard a clay group sculpture created by a number of artists exhibited in Sichuan.
Sand Sculpture
By piling, digging, carving and hollowing out this common element, turning it into mythical scenes and fairytale figures, sand sculptors have turned the art of carving in sand into a new trend in many big cities.
Statues in Four Chinese Grottos
In 460, the Wuzhou mountain valley in Datong, Shanxi Province, was reverberating with the sound of iron hammers beating rocks. A monk was directing hundreds of thousands of workers to continue their labor, carving stones and rocks to begin creating the Yungang Grottos.
Stone Relief, a combination of Chinese Painting and Sculpture
Stone relief is a form of sculpture that was popular in the Han Dynasty Pictures are chiseled into the Surface of a stone to make it look like a combination of painting and relief. The stone reliefs were put in ancestral halls and tombs as architectural decorations, but most of them are found on the brick walls in tombs. They are of great value in the research of Han Dynasty architecture, sculpture and painting. As a sculptural form, stone reliefs form a connecting link between the preceding bronzeware of the Qin Dynasty and the following sculptures of the Jin Dynasty (265-420) and the Southern and Northern Dynasties(420-581).
Terracotta Warriors, the Eighth Wonder of the World
In 1974, Vault 1 of the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qinshihuang was unearthed in Xiyang Village, Lintong County, Shaanxi Province. The terracotta warriors were arranged in a big, orderly arrayed combat formation. No written records of the Terracotta Warriors, considered the Eighth Wonder of the World, have been found.
Tomb Figures
In many ancient Chinese tombs, pottery, clay and wooden figures accompany the dead.
The Touching Female Servant Sculptures in the Jin Temple
At the foot of the xuanweng Mountain to the south west of Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, lies the famous Jin Temple with its great cypress tree dating from the Zhou Dynasty, the Never Old Spring that has run for thousands of years, the Goddess Hall built in the Northern Song Dynasty and the Xian Temple constructed in the Jin Dynasty. But it is the colored sculptures in the Goddess Temple that brought great fame to the Jin Temple.
Bamboo Carving
Bamboo, pine and plum, called the "three good friends in the cold years," have always been popular among people, including poets, artists and handicraftsmen. The common bamboo gives a sense of transcendent beauty, and collecting bamboo carvings has been the hobby of Chinese people for a long time.
Country Engravings of Yichang

Chinese Exquisite Paper-Carving
Also known as Chinese exquisite paper-cut, Chinese exquisite paper-carving is an exotic flower in the world of Chinese folk art, having its origin in the Yu Family living in front of the Xiangyang Temple. Paper-carving artworks were made of rice paper or Maobian paper (a kind of pale-yellow writing paper made from bamboo pulp) by handicraftsman at that time. In 1998, Leqing exquisite paper-carving works were honored as the "Only One in China" at the National Exposition of Traditional Arts, with several of its masterpieces, such as the "Panda", being collected by the Chinese Art Gallery.
Iron Board Carving
It is hard to relate elegant, simple, and unsophisticated artwork with a hammer and a piece of iron board. Yet through the hands of two ordinary workers Guo Haibo and Guo Hailong, the iron board magically turns into this new folk art form in China.
King of the Jungle
The lion is known as the king of the animals. The first lion was presented to China during the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD25-220) by a king from the western regions.
Microscopic Carving
The art of microscopic carving generally refers to the engraving of infinitesimal characters on ivory or human hair. The artist engaged in this unique craft, when he applies the graver, cannot see the work he is doing but has to depend on feel. The art is therefore sometimes described as "carving by one's will".
Nut Carving
Nut carving, known as Hediao in Chinese, generally refers to two kinds of carvings that respectively use fruit stone (also known as the fruit's pit), like olive or peach stone, and walnut as the raw material. The art form is acclaimed for its delicate carving skills on the small fruit stones or walnuts, and is known as an "uncanny work of art" among the people.
Qingtian Stone Carving
Qingtian stone carving is one of the most famous handicraft works Three Carvings and One Statue of China. It originated in Qingtian of Zhejiang Province, a county reputed as the Hometown of Chinese Stone Carvings. With beautiful modeling and refined craftsmanship, Qingtian stone carvings are loved by many people and reputed as the Embroidery on Stones.
Root Carving
Root carving is a traditional art in China. Integrating ingenuity and craftiness, root carving not only employs ways of expressions similar to wood carvings, sculptures and stone carvings, but also demonstrates the unique features of root carving by absorbing the techniques exhibited in the creation of other carving arts.
Shell Mosaics
Shell mosaics are relatively new handicrafts carved out from or inlayed with colorful shells found on the banks of rivers, lakes and seas.
Stone Dogs in Leizhou Peninsula
In the Leizhou Peninsula, at the southernmost tip of the Chinese mainland, various stone dogs can be spotted at village entrances, ancient roads and ancient gates. These roughly carved stone dogs, which have turned grayish after a long period of rain and wind, are the gem of the peninsula's time-honored unique culture, attracting many tourists from both home and abroad.
Tshatsha: An Exotic Flower of Tibetan Buddhist Art
Tshatsha, a literal translation from a Sanskrit word which mean "copy" in English, stands for small clay sculptures cut from a mold, including mini-statues of Buddha, stupas or Buddhist scriptures. Usually, they are put inside large stupas or special shrines (tsha-kang). They can also be found on top of Mani stones flanked by prayer flags along tracks, on the revered snow-peaks or in sacred caves. The Tibetans carry them in small amulet boxes to guard against evil.
Tibetan Art: Folk Carving
Large in number, exquisite in materials and elegant tastes, Tibetan folk carving has been well known for centuries. The dozens of primordial rock painting s found in scarcely populated valleys are the works of Tibetan ancestors, also known as the first batch of artworks found on this land.
Tooth Carving
Tooth carving, one of traditional Chinese cultural essences, is an important part of China's industrial arts. Tooth carving has a long history in China. As early as the Paleolithic Age, Shandingdong people living in Zhoukoudian Village carved decorative articles out of ivory and used them as burial articles.
Tooth and Horn Carving
Generally speaking "tooth and horn carving" refers to objects carved out of animal teeth and horns, and in the circle of collectors, it refers specifically to works carved out of ivory and rhinoceros horns. Ivory is naturally beautiful, white and soft, and is therefore very exquisite and full of artistic charm; Rhinoceros horn carving is famous for its rarity and great value.
Concerning the origin of boxwood carving, there is a legend, which states the art form was invented by a child cowherd called Ye Chengrong, who was a local of Leqing County in Zhejiang Province.
Making Boxwood Carving
The main artistic feature of boxwood carving is that all the works are made based on their original shapes, maximizing the use of the wood. Though there are many methods, the most prominent and popular way is circular carving.
Masterpiece: Liu Hai Playing with the Golden Toad
The work of "Liu Hai Playing with the Golden Toad" was carved in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Royal households and high officials collected most of the boxwood carvings dating from ancient times; only a fraction was placed in the temples. The small figure carvings, especially those exceeding 20 centimeters in height, are very rare today.

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