Integration and Transformation: A Study of the Sun and the Moon Depicted in the Imagery of Fuxi and Nüwa


  • Jinchao Zhao University of Virginia



Fuxi, Nüwa, the sun and the moon, mural tombs, stone sarcophagus


The present research focuses on the depiction of the sun and moon in the imagery of Fuxi and Nüwa during the Han and Wei-Jin periods. Through typological and iconographical approaches, it proposes four primary modes in terms of the ways in which the sun and the moon are combined with Fuxi and Nüwa. It contributes to the current field by providing new perspectives for readdressing some issues that remain underexplored. First, it challenges the over-absolute identification of the earliest representation of Fuxi and Nüwa in a pair, and that of Changyi and Xihe, another set of paired deities recorded to be in close relation to the celestial world, in Western Han mural tombs from the Luoyang area, and instead suggests a shift of focus to the recognisable distinctions in visual details, such as the chronological sequence of the application of the first and second modes in the Luoyang Han tomb paintings, and the masculine appearances of both the deities depicted in the Western Han Qianjingtou tomb. Further examinations of the development and dissemination of each mode through the Han and Wei-Jin eras reveals complicated interactions between different regions and exchanges of motif with other forms of imagery. The local tradition of depicting Fuxi and Nüwa, together with that of the depiction of the sun and moon in Nanyang, has been incorporated into the formation of the sun and moon in anthropomorphic representations in the Southwest. Finally, this research proposes that it is more significant to organise the surviving materials through the development and context of each visual element represented in the scene, rather than making an absolute identification based on scattered evidence.


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28. 06. 2019

How to Cite

Zhao, Jinchao. 2019. “Integration and Transformation: A Study of the Sun and the Moon Depicted in the Imagery of Fuxi and Nüwa”. Asian Studies 7 (2): 13-45.

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