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Ceramic Eaves Tile with White Tiger Design

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Period: Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE)
Medium: ceramic
Dimensions: Diameter: 19.3 cm

The White Tiger is known as the spiritual guardian of the West and one of the Four Spirits—along with the Azure Dragon, Vermillion Bird, and Dark Warrior—that guard over the cardinal directions. The outer rim of this eaves tile is rather wide. Inside the circle, the tiger is fashioned with a concave back in a dynamic pose that conjures the creature’s fierce nature. The well-balanced image is aesthetically pleasing.

Eaves tiles are end pieces for cylindrical tiles as seen in traditional Chinese architecture. Since they cover the end of a row of tiles and prevent the tiles from sliding, they are called dang, which means “obstructing” or “shielding” in Chinese. The practical piece is also highly decorative. The ancients enjoyed embellishing these pieces with animals, plants, designs, or inscriptions.

Chinese entry by Feng Hejun
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying

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