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Roof Tile

Accession Number
1979/2.6

Title
Roof Tile

Artist(s)
Chinese

Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
7th century

Medium & Support
earthenware

Dimensions
3 11/16 in x 5 1/2 in x 1 7/16 in (9.37 cm x 13.97 cm x 3.65 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Peter Greiner

Label copy
The lotus blossom was the most common motif found on roof tiles for Buddhist monasteries in China. The lotus was considered a sign of purity in Buddhism, but even more importantly its association with water gave it an apotropaic function, symbolically protecting timber architecture from the threat of fire.
Maribeth Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art
Exhibited in "Flora and Fauna in Chinese Art," April 6, 2002 - December 1, 2002.

Subject matter
A fragment of a roof eave tile (wa dang 瓦当), featuring a lotus blossom of the Tang dynasty (618-906.)

An important development for Chinese wooden architecture was the use of ceramic roof tiles to replace thatching. Used as both a functional and decorative feature on the Qin (221-206 BCE) palaces, the round eaves head tiles (wa dang 瓦当) featured a variety of auspicious geometric, calligraphic, and natural designs. Used throughout Chinese history to adorn palaces, temples, shrines, and houses, lasting through the dynasties to the present day, they have become an important architectural component that has contributed to the unique aesthetic of Chinese architecture.  This particular tile features a lotus flower. 

The lotus blossom was the most common motif found on roof tiles for Buddhist monasteries in China. The lotus was considered a sign of purity in Buddhism, but even more importantly its association with water gave it an apotropaic function, symbolically protecting timber architecture from the threat of fire.

Physical Description
A fragment of unglazed earthenware: approximately half of a round, molded roof tile, depicting a central lotus flower in relief. 

Primary Object Classification
Ceramic

Primary Object Type
roof tile

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
ceramic (material)
earthenware
eaves tile
flowers
lotus
tile

1 Related Resource

Buddhism
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display