Debatable Paradise: The Adoption of Enemy Customs and Trappings in Tombs of the Zhao State During the Eastern Zhou Period (771-221 BCE)
Jiayao Han, PhD Candidate, History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
This research examines 8th through 3rd century BCE bronze artifacts found in Zhao elite tombs whose decoration contains both Chinese and Eurasian prototypes, and explores why this visual convergence occurred at a time when Chinese states engaged in frequent wars with pastoral rivals. Arguing against the conventional diffusionist model of stylistic transmission, the paper argues for the need to consider “hybridity” and “human agency” in explorations of culture change and continuity in contact situations. The adoption of alien aesthetics reveals the effort of Zhao elites to create a fluid identity at the time of their death, one which was well suited to their political position in the Northern Frontier’s militarized area.
Image: Gilded Plaque with Symmetrical Dragon Motif from the Zhao King Tomb #2, Handan, Hebei Province, Warring States Period (4th - 2nd Century BCE)