Introduction: This sculpture of a watchtower is an important representative of the 206 BCE – 220 CE time period because it shows the type of architecture the Han dynasty used and the type of structures they built. It informs us that the people of the Han dynasty were fairly advanced architecturally because the watchtower shown is multiple stories, which wasn’t very common in other civilizations at the time. This sculpture of a watchtower is relevant today because it gives us further insight into the lives of the ancient Han and we can figure out when complex architecture began.
Overview: The watchtower is a narrow yet tall sculpture, with a rusted green and brown look to it. The viewer’s eyes are drawn to the lattice design on the front of the sculpture, along with the intricate detail at the base of the lattice. There is a support beam diagonally across the entire first floor, and there is a figure of a person on the top of the lattice design. The sculpture has an extra covering over the first floor and what looks to be a balcony towards the top.
Parts: The small person above the lattice design seems to be of some importance. It is small and the viewer may not notice it at first, but it is there, looking out of the watchtower. There is another person sculpted onto the watchtower. They are on the beam that goes across the first floor, and seem to be crouched, perhaps sneaking into or guarding the building. Also, the amount of stories the watchtower has may be of some importance, though it is hard to tell when one story ends and another begins.
Title: The title of this piece is Central Watchtower. The title is telling me that perhaps this is a replica of a real watchtower that existed in ancient times. It is also revealing that this was most likely the main watchtower that everyone in the town, or just the military, used.
Interpretation: The intent of this work was to come up with a product to place in the tomb of an upper class person. These sculptures showed wealth- the more stories one had in their sculpture, the higher up in society they were. Since these watchtowers were placed in tombs, the people in the sculpture were added to watch over the elite after they die and to keep away evil spirits.
Context: The sculpture was created in the Eastern Han dynasty era. At the time, the arts became much more acknowledged, and soon, creating pottery and ceramics was a popular pastime. Many people of this era spent their whole life preparing for death, so protection from evil spirits was very important. Watchtowers were said to keep away evil spirits, so the sculptures gave people peace of mind. Also, people believed that evil spirits only traveled in straight lines, so if you look closely, you can tell that the creator of this sculpture tried to decrease the number of straight lines.
Conclusion: The sculptures of watchtowers were created to be put inside the tombs of wealthier people to scare away evil spirits. In class, we are learning about different ancient civilizations of the same time period that this sculpture was created in. We even did a brochure project over them, and the Han dynasty was one of the civilizations a brochure was created for. This sculpture helps visualize the beliefs of the mainly Confucian dynasty. It also gives us a glimpse into what architecture looked like at the time, which can show us how advanced a society is.