While the International Museum of Art has a collection of rubbings from all over China, perhaps the most interesting are rubbings of scenes originally carved on the Wu Family Shrines located in Shandong, China. These giants tombs were constructed at the height of Confucianism during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). Confucianism emphasized the reverence of ancestors (both dead and living), so giant tombs paying homage to the ancestors of the wealthy began to be constructed throughout China. These burial chambers, much like those of ancient Egypt, were loaded with art and treasures. The walls and ceilings of these shrines were carved with elaborate designs, showing scenes of the burial of the deceased, tributes to his life, or religious images.
This image shows Fu Xi on the right, and his sister/wife Nüwa on the left. Fu Xi and Nüwa are mythological figures of great significance, as Fu Xi is widely credited as being the first sovereign of China. According to legend, Fu Xi and his sister Nüwa were the only survivors of a great flood. After prayer to a divine being, they set about re-populating the earth, but this was taking way too long, so they invented a way to create human beings out of clay. Once a new society emerged, Fu Xi came to rule. Under his rule, he instituted the practice of marriage and kingly rule, and brought social order to the land.
Another of the Museum’s rubbings collection. The high quality of the rubbing suggests that it was taken from a modern carved replica of a Wu Shrine relief.