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Lateral stretcher from the base of a funerary couch with Sogdian musicians and a dancer

Period of Division, Northern Qi dynasty

Grey marble with traces of pigment
H: 19.7 W: 95.3 D: 16.5 cm
Probably Ce Xian, China

Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1915.336

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The Central Asian musicians and dancer, possibly of the Sogdian culture group, depicted on these panels attest to the international character of the Northern Qi dynasty, established in China in 550 following military conquest by people of Turkic origins. Musicians traveling the Silk Route introduced new instruments, such as harps and the bent-neck lute, which some scholars associate with the Persian barbat. The foreign lute influenced the development of the modern pipa, a lyrical Chinese lute now popular in chamber ensembles.

These stone carvings once belonged to a stone platform that was made to support the coffin of a Northern Qi dignitary. Inverted lotus petals are a motif frequently seen in images associated with Buddhism, the faith of the Northern Qi rulers-form the border.

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