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Tang Dynasty (618-907)

Tang Dynasty (618-907)

The Tang Dynasty is viewed as one of the most splendid eras in Chinese history, mainly in its first half (618-755).

Important revision of codified laws and of land taxations and labour services provide legal force to the new government. The development of the examination system established by the Sui Dynasty encourages the recruitment of qualified officials in order to balance the dominant distant nomadic ancestry elite.

Major military efforts are engaged. Emperors go on with the expansionist policy initiated under the Sui Dynasty, establishing sovereignty over the oasis kingdom of Tarim Basin, thus controlling the caravans of merchants passing along the "Silk Road". "Foreign fashion" from these remote regions is a source of endless fascination to the court. From India, pilgrim monks such as the famous Xuanzang (602-664) bring back buddhist sculptures, thus encouraging numerous religious currents. The capital, Chang'an (Xian), grows to be one of the largest towns in the world. The reign of Gaozong (649-683)and the personal government of Empress Wu Zetian (690-704) are maybe the height of the dynasty. The victory of Arab troops on the Talas River in Central Asia (751) and the massive Rebellion of General An Lushan (755-763) bring an end to this era of expansion.

In the second half of the dynasty (763-907), a new institutional framework is developed, based on a powerful bureaucratic hierarchy. Southern China gradually becomes a major trading place to the prejudice of the North which remains the center of the imperial power. The broad persecution of Bouddhism (843-845) is typical of the changes in the elite opinion and prepares for the revival of the Confucian ideal of the Song times.

  • Head of Bodhisattva
    Head of Bodhisattva
  • Small stele
    Small stele 8th century - Sandstone
  • Barbarian with a horn
    Barbarian with a horn Second half of the 7th century, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) - Glazed and painted terra cotta
  • Camel
    Camel First half of the 8th century, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) - “Three colours” ceramic (sancai)
  • Male and female polo players
    Male and female polo players Tang Dynasty (618-907) - “Three colours” ceramic (sancai)
  • Horse and groom
    Horse and groom First half of the 7th century, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) - Wood (Metasequoia)
  • Warrior
    Warrior 7th century, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) - Terra cotta with traces of polychromy and gold
  • Orchestra of eight horsewomen-musicians
    Orchestra of eight horsewomen-musicians Early 8th century, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) - Polychrome terra cotta
  • Upper Part of a Stele
    Upper Part of a Stele 8th century - Grès
  • Sogdien merchant
    Sogdien merchant 7th century - early 8th century - Terracotta
  • Bust of a lady of the court
    Bust of a lady of the court Early 8th century - Wood with traces of gilding and color
  • Pair of dressage horses
    Pair of dressage horses First half of the 8th century, Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) - Terracotta
  • Head of a Taoist sage
    Head of a Taoist sage 8th century, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) - Sandstone