Fusang Tree, 1st-2nd century

Unknown artist, expand_more

This elaborate, ceramic structure features a square pond with stepped sides surmounted by a terrace from which rises a large tree with numerous branches in which perch several birds and a monkey. On the terrace are five figures looking at the tree. The pond has geese, ducks, and fish below a shelf with four further ducks in each corner. Four horsemen, one with a crossbow, ride around the outer rim of the wall, which is further set with ducks.

This type of hunting scene is generally interpreted in ancient Chinese art as depicting the legend of Archer Yi who saved the world from a primordial drought by shooting nine suns in the form of sunbirds out of the fusang tree leaving only one sun shining in the sky. The myth records that the suns in the fusang tree are depicted as birds and the tree rises from the "yellow spring" which runs everywhere beneath the earth and comes to the surface at the foot of the fusang tree with turtles, dragons and fish inhabiting its magic waters. This remarkable Han tomb object is one of the largest and most elaborate ceramic depictions of the fusang tree myth.

Fusang Tree
Accession Number
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