Stone and Brick Carvings
The stone carvings related to tombs and mausoleums are the figurines of men and animals lined up along the tomb paths. The stone sculptures in front of the tombs not only represented the guards of the tombs, but also the prestige and achievement of the persons buried in the tombs. The earliest set of stone carvings well preserved now is the set of stone carvings in front of the tomb of General Huo Qubing in the Western Han Dynasty, located in Xingping County of Shanxi province. The set of stone carvings consists of 16 statues of elephant: ox, horse, fish, pig, tiger, sheep, "monster eating a sheep", "man wrestling with bear", and "horse striding over the Huns". Its style is very vivid and terse. So, it is a world treasure of art.
Matchable with this set of stone carvings is the set of stone carvings in front of the mausoleums of the Southern Dynasties located near Nanjing. These stone carvings include stone beasts, stone pillars and stone steles. They are large, carefully sculpted, streamlined, vivid and imposing. The stone carvings at the 18 mausoleums of the Tang Dynasty are also treasures of ancient Chinese sculpture. Their themes and technique both surpass that of the mausoleum stone carvings before them. They include sculptures, reliefs and line carvings. The relief of "Six Horses at Zhao Mausoleum", is rendered vividly with consummate skills, representative of the art of Chinese stone carving at its peak.
The stone and brick carving related to religion are numerous.
They are mostly stone carvings in the Buddhist grottos and also the stone statues in the temples. The most famous grottos with stone carvings are: Yungang grottos, Longman grottos, Binjun Temple grottos, Qingyang North and South temple grottos, Gong county grottos, Mount Heaven-Dragon grottos, Ten-Thousand-Buddha Temple Grottos in Yi county, and Jianchuan Stone Bell Grottos. In addition, there are the Dazu Stone Carving, the Flying-in Peak statues and the stone carvings at Mount Xixia in Nanjing. Beside, there are the Daoist grottos carved at Mount Dragon in he thirteen century, and the Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist grottos at Mount Shizhuan carved in the eleventh century. They are all excellent works of all.
The religious stone carvings are done most artistically, comprising sculptures, reliefs, pierced stone carving etc. Some are very large, e.g. the Leshan Giant Buddha statue; some are very small, less than one inch high. Many of them are very artistic and had an immeasurable effect on the development of art in ancient China. The stone and brick carvings related to architectures are also plentiful. They are seen commonly on structural members of palatial buildings. The most famous of these are the figures stone carvings in Wuliang Temple; the paved passageway and cloud pillar at the Imperial Palace; and the stone pillars of Dacheng Hall in the Confucian Temple.