Wall Tile, 16th Century Ming Dynasty
This piece of wall art was created was created in China in the time period of the Ming Dynasty, (1368-1644). It is from the 16th century and made from high-fired pottery and beautifully glazed. It is a beautiful work of art that I picked because the dragon depicted in the piece stood out to me among the rest.
In this piece Wall Tile there is a single dragon stretched across a rectangular piece of pottery. With a yellow scaled body it snakes around in a long wavy pattern over the purple background. Decorating the sides of this piece are blue colored leaves that match some details on the dragon, such as its spine scales. The color scheme of this piece applies complementary colors by using a yellow-orange for the body of the dragon and complementing it by using a blue-green, making the body of the dragon stand out. Each scale of the dragon is intricately carved to exaggerate the detail of this piece and adds to its beauty. A carefully shaped eyebrow is arched on the dragon in such a way, making it look angry. With its teeth bared, it seems to be smiling at the viewer giving it a look of confidence. Sharp talons indicated on the feet show the power that is represented by the dragon in this piece work of pottery.
In Chinese culture the dragon symbolizes power. They are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore. Dragons can take on many forms but normally have a snake-like body with four legs. The dragon is also a symbol of strength and for those who are worthy, in times of need, luck. Knowing this, the emperor of China usually used a dragon to symbolize his power and strength.
Many legends throughout China draw conclusions between dragons and the emperor. Some claimed to have descended from dragons, while others said that they were their protectors. According to Judy Botsford, the author of Chinese Dragon: A Powerful Metaphor in Chinese Cultural History, “The first legendary rulers, the Emperors of China has taken the dragon as the central image in an elaborate set of images the symbolize the emperor’s authority. The great and beneficial power of the dragon could be brought to the people through the good rule of the emperor who was considered to be the intermediary between heaven and Earth, a ‘Son of Heaven’,” (Botsford, Judy). [footnoteRef:1] An emperor’s most honored title was ‘the True Dragon” and the adjective dragon was used in the names that had to do with his life. The emperor’s throne was known as ‘the dragon seat’, his hands ‘the dragon’s claws’. His imperial look was known as the ‘dragon’s eyes’ and the robes he wore called ‘dragon’s garments’. This mythical beast became so important in Chinese culture that it made an appearance on coins of the realm as well as the national flag. [1: The...