Samuel M. Arkin '23

Georgia E. Benz '21

Allie N. Beronilla '21

Hailey L. Dedrick '21

Sophia Gravenstein '22

Alyssa G. Gubernick '23

Elizabeth Carly Hobbs '21

Jennifer R. Johnson '21

Emily Lashendock '21

Georgia P. Morgan '22

Amanda J. Oross '22

Deirdre Sullivan '23

Maggie G. Sullivan '22

Hannah C. Turner ''21

Lyndsey J. Winick '22

Under the direction of Professor Yan Sun, Art & Art History.



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Document Type

Art Catalog


The Yellow Springs is a vivid metaphorical reference to the final destination of a mortal being and the dwelling place of a departed one in ancient China. In the writings of philosophers, historians, and poets during the long period of Chinese history, the Yellow Springs is not only considered as an underground physical locus where a grave is situated, but also an emotionally charged space invoke grieving, longing, and memory for the departed loved ones. The subterranean dwelling at the Yellow Springs is both a destination for a departed mortal being and an intermediary place to an ideal and imaginative realm, the land of immortality where the soul would enjoy eternity. From the Yellow Springs to the Land of Immortality is an exhibition that highlights sixteen carefully selected artworks from Gettysburg College’s Special Collections; each object embodies the perceptions and ritual practices of the rich funerary culture in the historical period in China, ranging from the late second millennium BCE to the beginning of the early twentieth century. These artifacts represent various artistic traditions and fabrication techniques — including jade carving, bronze casting, glazed pottery making — and most importantly, offer a glimpse of how art and artifacts are employed as a means to connect the living with the soul of the departed one in the Yellow Springs. Archaeo- logical discoveries in the past four decades in China have provided rich information that helps contextualize the sixteen artworks, as well as intimate knowledge about how the objects might “perform” in the life and afterlife of the individuals in the past.

The practice of burying goods alongside departed loved ones has had a long tradition in China. The artworks included in this exhibition catalogue, encompassing the major dynasties in Chinese history, epitomize such a practice from a historical point of view. The bronze jue of the Shang dynasty (mid-16th c.-1046 BCE), and the miniature bell, a replica of yong bronze bell of the Zhou dynasty (1045-256 BCE), are not only ceremonial paraphernalia used by elites in ancestral sacrifices during the Bronze Age, but also material manifestations of ritual and music, the very foundations of ancient Chinese civilization. Comparable examples found in Bronze Age tombs illustrate the idea to connect the deceased, often the owner of these ritual objects, to the ancestors in the netherworld as they themselves were transitioned into the role of ancestors through a series of funerary ceremonies. [excerpt]

Publication Date

Spring 2021


Schmucker Art Gallery, Gettysburg College


Gettysburg, PA


Yellow Springs, Death, Mourning, Funerary, Ancient China, Jade, Artwork, Gettysburg College


From the Yellow Springs to the Land of Immortality was on exhibition at the Schmucker Art Gallery at Gettysburg College February 5th - March 6, 2021.

From the Yellow Springs to the Land of Immortality