Chinese art tradition is the oldest in the world. Characterized by focus on decorative aspects, visual essence, and originality, China’s art and sculpture forms have been refined through its 5,000 years of civilized history.
Unlike collapse and revival witnessed by the Western art forms, art tradition in China is marked by high degree of continuity. Successive ruling dynasties patronized and enriched it through their contributions and art consciousness.
Chinese painting evolved along with calligraphy. Paper and silk were the earliest materials for painting. A variety of albums, wall painting, lacquered objects, and folded mediums were also used. Chinese painting was based on two types of techniques, ink-wash and Gong-Bi. The first one was characterized by use of water color and paint brush. Gong-Bi technique was more meticulous and with precise finishing.
Landscape painting of mountains, deserts, palaces, rivers, and cities were encouraged during the 10th century. More distinct forms, such as piling painting and flower painting came into existence during the Song rule.
Calligraphy is considered the most appreciated art form from China. Mostly confined to aristocratic households and scholars, calligraphy in China got a fillip after the first century when paper was invented. Calligraphy on silk continued and refined simultaneously. Chinese calligraphy is characterized by us of brush pen, colorful inks, and sophisticated colors. The Lanting Xu, a collection of poems by Wang Xizhi prepared in fourth century, is considered the best ever calligraphic example in the world.
Chinese sculpture had two major forms, metal and terracotta. The first Chinese bronze sculptures appeared around 200 BC. They had complex patterns marked by zoomorphic decorations. Development of metallurgy and blast furnace technology gave rise to more complex sculptures. Sculpted human and demigod figures followed soon.
The arrival of Buddhism led to development of religious sculptures of variety size and design. Portrait sculpture was mostly confined to empirical royal palaces.
Terracotta sculpture defines the very basis of art in China. All major museums in China have galleries dedicated to this art form. The terracotta mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang with figures of a huge army shows the grandeur of terracotta sculpture in ancient China.
Chinese decorative art includes beautiful pottery art, palace decoration, porcelain, and a range of other material. The distinct pottery art, to which the modern Chinese artists trace their lineage, appeared during the Neolithic Yangshao culture. Use of ceramic pottery painted by fish and human images, jade stone carvings, and symmetrical-geometric abstract designs were prevalent until the arrival of the Bronze Age.
The decorative tradition improved and expanded with royal patronage. Royal and aristocratic people employed skillful artists to decorate palaces, walls, roofs, weapons, and all items of daily use. Even different decorative art forms adorned silk garments. Many decorative Chinese art workshops were established during the Tang rule and their tradition continues till date.
Chinese Poetry: Symbol of Civilization Spirit and Wisdom
Chinese poetry came into existence representing the glory of civilized brilliance and symbolizing the popular spirit and national wisdom long before the written literature appeared.
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