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Hollow Pictorial Brick Depicting a Battle Between Han and Barbarian
Source: Henan Museum Edit: acf Time: 2020.09.25 10:05:42 Views:



Width: 122.5 cm、Height: 33.5 cm、Thickness: 14.00 cm
Unearthed at Fanji township, Xinye county, Henan province in April, 1987
Mid-late Western Han to Xin dynasty (45 B.C--23 A.D)


Of a rectangular form, the pictorial brick depicts a fighting scene: one the left side is a hill, on which stand three persons: one seated holding a stick in his arms, is presumably a commander of the battle; one warrior, holding a stick against his chest, is seated cross legged and seemingly in a rage; the third in the front is pulling the bowstring of a crossbow.

The central part of the image highlights the mounted archers from the both sides. On the right side, a figure wearing a hat and long robe with wide sleeves, and standing on a raised platform, is attempting to draw his sword, four decapitated heads lie in front of him, and filled with dread, four other people knelt down before him. Beneath him, stands a weapon rack with an axe, and a suspending shield.

The present Han pictorial brick with such fighting scene is a sole example among the unearthed ones in Henan to date. The molded scene demonstrates a realistic and fierce battle between Han empire and the barbarians, both infantry and cavalry are deployed, the detailed fighting such as pulling the bowstring of a crossbow with the help of foot, capturing, looting, executing the captives are depicted realistically.

In terms of the costumes, one side dresses in a normal way just like the Han Chinese in the Central Plains; whilst the pointed hats on the other side are identical with that of the camel riders or camel carers in the other discovered Han dynasty reliefs, as well as with the apparel discovered in the tombs of Warring States period in Inner Mongolia, which suggests their identity as the Barbarians. Based on the discovery location, the tomb formation, and the burial objects, we ascertain that this pictorial brick dates back to the mid-late Western Han to Xin dynasty(45 B.C--23 A.D established by Wang Mang), accordingly, we come to know that the scene displays the battle between the armies of the middle Han empire and the Barbarian, i.e. Xiongnu. Thus this pictorial brick is an important reference for the study on the ethnic history and the war history of the dynastic China.