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Wong, Pui Yin Marianne (2006) The siling (four cardinal animals) in Han pictorial art. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The term siling in this thesis, literally "four divine creatures", refers to this group of four animal spirits with directional significance commonly represented in the Han Dynasty and later periods, namely, the qinglong of the East, baihu of the West, zhuque of the South, and the xuanwu of the North. My thesis will explore the place occupied by the second group of four animal symbols in various pictorial art forms among the material remains of the Han, aiming to trace the emergence and spread of the visual representations of the siling. This study argues that, although individual animal images of the siling did not appear simultaneously, and although all four had much more ancient origins and associations with the cardinal directions, it was in the Western Han dynasty and in the neighbourhood of the capital Chang'an that the images of the four animals first emerged in a consistent iconography. The major concern of this research project is the meaning and usage and of the set of siling symbols, mainly in Han funerary contexts, taking into account relevant textual sources and the association of the siling with Han cosmological thought and some of the intellectual ideas that were predominant during the Han dynasty. By means of a comprehensive study of the set of siling representations, I aim to contribute to the knowledge of Han period archaeology and provide a new channel for the understanding of Han dynasty culture and beliefs.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:04

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