Boyao Ma, March 16

Speaker: Boyao Ma (Visiting Graduate Student, Department of Art History, University of Chicago; Ph.D Candidate, Department of Archaeology, Sichuan University)

Expanding Space in Passageway: the Architectural Space and Image of a 5th-century Tomb in Xi’an”

Discussant: Li Jiang (Ph.D Student, Department of Art History, University of Chicago)

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022
4:45 – 6:45 pm CT, Hybrid (In-person at CWAC 152 + livestream via Zoom)

Please use this link to register for the zoom meeting. 

(Aerial view of the painted carved-earth gatehouses at the Zhongzhao tomb, Xi’an.)

The Zhongzhao Tomb in Xi’an, with a total length of over 80 meters and the unusual structure of painted carved-earth gatehouses at the top of connecting corridors, was built for an elite couple during the Sixteen-Kingdoms period (304 CE – 439 CE). The architectural space and pictorial decoration of this tomb work together to create a symbolic space that simulates multiple courtyards. Compared to previous burial, the Zhongzhao tomb represents a significant shift in the spatial expansion of passageway, as evidenced by increases in both physical and symbolic space. The “vermilion pillars and white walls” shown by the painted carved-earth gatehouse is strikingly comparable to the literature description of the gatehouse in Yecheng, one of the capital cities of the time, creating a temporary visual spectacle above-ground amid the funeral activities. The Zhongzhao tomb is an excellent representation of the dimorphic of “hiding” and “showing” in burial, conveying the significance of the spatial expansion in passageway during the early medieval China.
Boyao Ma is currently a visiting graduate student in the Department of Art History, the University of Chicago. He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Archaeology, Sichuan University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree. He primarily focuses on archaeology of burials and buddhism in the early medieval China, currently working on his dissertation about the stone mortuary equipments between the fifth to the eighth century.
Li Jiang is a PhD student of East Asian art history, focusing primarily on funerary art in ancient and early medieval China. Li Jiang received her MA from the University of Chicago in 2018. Her thesis examined the fragments of a lacquer screen from an elite burial of the Northern Wei dynasty. Her current research involves the material cultural and inter-regional issues in northeast Asian tomb arts from the fourth to seventh centuries.


This convening is open to all invitees who are compliant with UChicago vaccination requirements and, because of ongoing health risks, particularly to the unvaccinated, participants are expected to adopt the risk mitigation measures (masking and social distancing, etc.) appropriate to their vaccination status as advised by public health officials or to their individual vulnerabilities as advised by a medical professional. Public convening may not be safe for all and carries a risk for contracting COVID-19, particularly for those unvaccinated. Participants will not know the vaccination status of others and should follow appropriate risk mitigation measures. 

Yoon-Jee Choi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *