A glimpse on Chinese ancient civilization presents a long history of the role played by the horse in architecture. A deeper analysis reveals that the horse played critical roles in core aspects of the people’s lives…
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However, one wonders why horse carvings and sculptures were a common feature of the Han dynasty? The depiction of the horse on the tombs translates to a critical role that the horse played in the afterlife. A superficial view of the issue may assume that the horse was just an additional object that accompanied the dead to the afterlife. However, a deeper analysis of the religious set-up of the Han dynasty provides highlights on the critical role played by the horse in guiding and protecting people in the afterlife. This paper will analyze the belief system of the Han dynasty and the attributes of people whose tombs had horse carvings. History and Religion of the Han Dynasty The Han dynasty emerged in 207 B.C.E as a successor of the Qin dynasty. The Han dynasty found a united Chinese society from the efforts of its immediate predecessor. This dynasty lasted for the longest time in China thriving in unity. However, the dynasty faced a division in the years that followed. Initially, the western Han had political strength. Upon its collapse, the eastern side rose to take its place. The Han dynasty had an intense culture and architectural designs evident from archeological and historical evidence. The society practiced agriculture and the war. In addition, history reveals that the society domesticated horses. The people of the Han dynasty had strong beliefs about life beyond death....
In the ritual ceremonies that sought to unite the dead bodies with the immortal spirits, people offered sacrifices. The people opined that sacrificial goods were critical because they would be useful in the afterlife. The dead received a decent and well-designed burial tomb, an honorable place where they could spend their eternity. Attempts of Describing the Tomb Architecture Different reserchers have tried to unravel the relevance of the horse. The mausoleum of an emperor played the role of his palace in the afterlife. The horse was one of the common sculptures in most of the tombs.The people associatedthe horse with the potential of guiding the deceased emperor in the journey towards the next phase of life. Just as a horse would guide and protect an emperor in real life, the Han dynasty believed that the horse had the power to do the same in the spirit world. An emperor going to the next life without a horse would lack a basic aspect in the next world. In addition, horses were the symbols of wealth and power in the afterlife just as they were among the living.4 The Han dynasty mausoleums had details of a complete palace with different rooms designated to palace servants such as guards, dancers, cooks, and the burial chambers.5 The structures had detailed the architecture and the construction took a long time. The people’s beliefs and convictions of life after death compelled society to give up some people for servitude in the spirit world. However, in the Han dynasty, carvings replaced the sacrifice of people. Mausoleums proved to be places of great significance for the Chinese people. From the archeological records of excavated
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The Han dynasty is also regarded as the golden age of the Chinese history. In essence, the history of Chinese history is subdivided into three main historical periods. The first category is the early period that was made up of simple folks, the second category is the classical period comprising of repetitive forms, which is under the Han dynasty.
It is an immense undertaking that seems even more so, because it was constructed centuries ago. There is little that man has made today that will, likely, be standing up to the ages as the Great Wall of China has done. One of the earliest American works discussing the wall, titled, appropriately, the “Great Wall of China,” by William Edgar Geil, published in 1909, acknowledged the presence of the wall as something that, “…separates the age of myth from the age of fact”(Geil 5).
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