I have always been rather fond of a straight-talking official from Tang dynasty China named Han Xiu, who was alive in the late 7th and early 8th centuries.
He was a man who didn't pull his punches - giving advice when he was asked for it, and also when he wasn't. He rose to a position of power under the Emperor Xuanzong (ruled 712-56), putting people's noses out of joint on the way.
As one would imagine, he was a man who knew what he wanted, and what he liked. You can tell from his tomb - which has only recently been excavated in Guoxinzhuang village, Chang'an district, Xi'an. I was thrilled to find a copy of the murals that decorated his tomb (which he shared with his wife and another senior official) in the wonderful exhibition on in Sydney at Art Gallery of New South Wales called Tang: Treasures from the Silk Road capital..........................
Read the complete Blogpost by Peter Frankopan on his website
This is a lovely way to write about history as it combines history with imagination, humour and a definite fondness of the subject concerned.
It makes you interested what these images looked like and who Han Xiu of all places exactly was. I did some home work:
Legendary Chinese artist Han Huang is best known for the "The Painting of Five cows", one of ten most significant scroll paintings in Chinese history.
The tomb of Han's father, who was a scholar and prime minister during the Tang dynasty, was recently discovered in the suburbs of Xi'an. Inside it was a vast collection of exquisitely painted murals that is shedding new light on the life of someone who was often left in the shadow of his legendary son.
The tomb, belonged to Han Xiu, a writer and prime minister during the eighth century. Filled with a vast treasure trove of exquisite art, the works enclosed in the tomb fit the title of someone as powerful as Han Xiu. Archaeologists say one of the landscape murals marks the rise of Tang dynasty ink paintings.
"On the mural, there's rivers, mountains, a pavilion and the sun," said Liu Daiyun,a scholar from Shanxi Institute of Archaeology.
"Seen from the layout and the strokes, we can say landscape painting had achieved maturity during Tang dynasty."
It was previously believed that Chinese ink painting did not achieve maturity until the Northern Song dynasty some 200 years later.
But this discovery has shown that the art form had reached maturity two centuries earlier than previously thought. Another mural inside the tomb, depicting singing and dancing scenes, also presents a vivid image of China's ancient art world.
"Normally, we found murals inside a tomb with only one band performing or one person dancing," Liu said. "But this time we've found two bands depicted on one mural, one female and one male band. And there's two people dancing opposite of each other."