Celebration of the Ruler in Asian Art and His Influence Up to the Present Day


Perceiving the ruler as a natural authority, as a sovereign with almost unlimited possibilities and power, is one aspect of the image of his own personality for society. Through art, his rule could spread further into the rest of the empire and often even beyond the borders of the empire itself. Art objects that depict the ruler and reinforce his dominant position in the country include sculptures, paintings, coins, drawings, and written sources.

Throughout the history of the Asian continent, from ancient times to the present day, there have been several rulers who have become so significant that their own persona has taken a symbolic place in art and art objects and are associated with them. Such specific rulers include Emperor Jimmu in Japan, Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty in China, Guangwu of the Han dynasty, Kanishka of the Kushan Empire, Shapur II of the Sassanian Empire, Tamerlane of the Timurid Empire, Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire, and Rama IX of Thailand.

Based on historical sources, archaeological materials, and scholarly literature, the aim of my contribution will be to capture the figures of these rulers in art and analyze the direction in which the artworks were oriented. Was it for the purpose of propagating the king, expanding the influence of power, strengthening his cult for military actions, or leaving a legacy in art due to his great popularity among society?

Author Information
Natálie Gottvaldová, Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2023
Stream: History/Historiography

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon