Jonathan Cohen

Jonathan Cohen

Posted on 01/31/2014


Photo taken on November 17, 2012



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Keywords

sculpture
Zu Dashou
Tomb of General Zu Dashou
Ming Tomb
Bloor Street
relief sculpture
Royal Ontario Museum
Ontario
ROM
Toronto
Canada
museum
qilin


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Qilin – Royal Ontario Museum, Bloor Street, Toronto, Ontario

Qilin – Royal Ontario Museum, Bloor Street, Toronto, Ontario
This photo depicts an other of the reliefs that grace the tomb of General Zu Dashou (also known as the "Ming Tomb") one of the iconic pieces in the collection of Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum.

Legendary in Chinese history, General Zu Dashou was celebrated for his defence of the Ming dynasty against the Manchu invasion. His story, however, is not without tragedy. In 1631, the general gave the enemy army one of his loyal sons as a hostage in hopes to speed up negotiations and relieve the people of Dalinghe of constant warfare. By the time the Ming dynasty fell in 1644, a number of the general’s sons had switched loyalties. In 1656, the exiled general died and construction on his tomb began. The scale of the tomb is an indication of respect and esteem General Zu held even amongst his enemies.

The tomb complex is full of imagery representing good fortune and immortality. As in many cultures across the world, Chinese burial imagery acts as a charm for those crossing to an after life and signals the passage to the sacred from the profane. The tomb also serves as a visual reminder to those left behind of the departed and of his good deeds. The relief panel shown above is on the archway leading to the actual burial mound.

This panel features a qilin, a mythical animal with a hooved feet, a leonine body, antelers, a dragonlike head with thick eyelashes, a mane that flows upwards and skin bristling with scales. The qilin is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler. It is a good omen thought to occasion prosperity or serenity. It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over its body. It is sometimes called the "Chinese unicorn" when compared with the Western unicorn.

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Comments
Nylonbleu
Nylonbleu
Look at this perfection ! the background is fabulous, especialy the little carves fowers on the top left !
3 years ago.