China, said to be from Changsha, Hunan Province, State of Chu, Eastern Zhou Dynasty, Late Warring States Period / Drum Stand / 300-221 BCChina, said to be from Changsha, Hunan Province, State of Chu, Eastern Zhou Dynasty, Late Warring States Period
Drum Stand
300-221 BC

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China
Creator Active Place: China
Creator Name-CRT: China, said to be from Changsha, Hunan Province, State of Chu, Eastern Zhou Dynasty, Late Warring States Period
Title: Drum Stand
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: -30
Creation End Date: -22
Creation Date: 300-221 BC
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: lacquered wood
Dimensions: Overall: 132.1cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1938.9
Credit Line: Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
Context: This astonishing object, designed to support a light drum, was once part of one of the large orchestras that were the fashion in southern China during the late Bronze Age. Judging from the musical instruments that have been unearthed from the tombs of southern Chu nobility, such sculptural supports were especially popular for percussion instruments. Sets of bells and stone chimes, in addition to drums, were frequently supported by stands featuring a range of naturalistic forms including humans and animals in addition to birds and serpents. In the case of the museum's stand, the missing drum--probably made from a sheet of leather stretched on a lacquered wood frame--would have been suspended between the tall necks of the standing cranes. Function helps explain the form and structure of the creatures that compose the stand. The tall birds with extraordinarily long necks allowed the drum to be suspended at an appropriate height, and the densely intertwined snakes provided a weighty base to stabilize the object during performances. Such considerations must also have guided the construction, for the base, unlike the separately assembled birds, was carved from a single massive block of wood. After it was carved, the stand was embellished with several coats ofbrilliantly colored lacquer that also sealed and protected the wood beneath. The intricate patterns--painted in vermilion on a black ground--are in some places naturalistic, and in others, geometric. Feathers appear on the wings and tail of each bird, forexample, and scales are drawn on one of the serpents. The geometric designs on the other serpent and on the birds, however, resemble the lively decorative painting found on lacquer vessels used in banquets in aristocratic households at the time. Birds andsnakes were popular subjects in the burgeoning naturalistic art of the late Bronze Age, especially in southern China. Featured together, frequently engaged in combat, graphic representations occur on inlaid bronze vessels, lacquerware, and jade objects.Despite the prevalence of the theme, it is difficult to access its significance. Compounding the mystery, related drum stands excavated more recently from aristocratic tombs in southern China have bases composed of tigers instead of snakes. Thus, despitethese discoveries, Cleveland's "Cranes and Serpents" is still unusual and the most impressive example of its type. K.W.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1938.9
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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