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Art of China


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Art of China

  1. 1. The Art of China Art of the Dynasties
  2. 2. On China • Traditional Chinese name: Zhong-guo (Middle Kingdom) • Name dates back to the Xia dynasty (2205-1700 BCE) • Modern day China, comes from Qin (chin), the name of the first imperial dynasty, established 221 BCE. • Over its long history, China had many capitals and border changes. • Two main cultural centers: mouth of Yangzi River and in north along the Huang He /Huang Ho (Yellow) and Wei rivers.
  3. 3. On China
  4. 4. Introduction • Chinese art has changed constantly, and each of the many periods in its long history has its distinct character. • Some helpful ideas regarding Chinese culture include: • The Chinese believed that their deceased ancestors have a spiritual form of existence that gives them access to the gods. • The living continue to pay them respect and provide for their upkeep in the spirit realm. • Much of early information about Chinese art comes from royal tombs. These yielded rich treasures such as lacquered items, paintings, sculptures in wood, stone, jade, bronze, etc.
  5. 5. Introduction • The Chinese follow Confucian respect for age, authority and morality after Confucius’ teachings (li, perfect harmony, ren, human heartedness). • Daoism (Taoism) meanwhile provided important principles to guide the individual’s private or spiritual life. It refers to the animistic beliefs of the Chinese that seeks balance with nature through the practice of the Dao (The Way). Based from Laozi’s book Dao De Jing. • Buddhism, which arrived in China in the first century CE and became widespread by the 5th century, introduced the Chinese to a new organization of the cosmos and new gods.
  6. 6. Intoduction • The first aesthetics of the Chinese can be read in the philosophy of a painter named Xie He (active c. 479-502 CE) who wrote his Canons of Painting. • Many of the scholars in ancient China were known as wenren (literati) who painted as expression of their cultural refinement. They came from wealthy families who had extensive education. • The art of writing, calligraphy, developed concurrently with painting and an excellent painter may be a better calligrapher. • The finest ceramics or imperial wares are simple vessels of highly refined patterns coated with thick glazes of color, often with crackle patterns.
  7. 7. Timeline • Neolithic period 700-2250 BCE • Xia dynasty c. 2205 – 1700 BCE • Shang dynasty c. 1700-1045 BCE • Zhou dynasty 1045-480 BCE --Lao Zi born c. 604 --Confucius c. 551-479 BCE • Period of Warring States • Qin dynasty 221-206 BCE • Han dynasty 206-220 CE • Period of Disunity: Six Dynasties 220-589
  8. 8. Timeline • Sui dynasty 589-618 and Tang dynasty 618-907 --invention of block printing in China (late 8th century) • Five dynasties 907-960 • Northern Song dynasty 960-1127 • Southern Song dynasty 1127-1279 --Genghis Khan unites Mongols (1206) --Polo family in China (1275-92) --Khubilai Khan conquers Hangzhou • Yuan dynasty 1279-1368 • Ming dynasty 1368-1644
  9. 9. Timeline • Qing dynasty 1644-1911 --Opium Wars open ports to foreign trade --Taiping Rebellion 1850-65 --Boxer Rebellion 1900 • Modern China (from 1911) --Chinese republic ends dynastic systems --Chinese People’s Republic established (1949) --Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution 1965-79
  10. 10. Shang • Bronze age in China –began around 2205 BCE (Xia dynasty) • Xia –developed the technology to cast bronze • Bronze –an alloy of tin and copper • Bronze vessels – used in banquets where offerings were made to the ancestors and gods • Shang leaders controlled the workshops that designed and cast over 30 distinct ritual vessels Map of Shang Dynasty c. 1600 BC–c. 1046 BC
  11. 11. Shang • Ding– a popular vessel with three feet for cooking • Derived from well-known Neolithic ceramic types • Rounded, rectangular scrolls and animal forms may have been developed in pre- Shang times • Taotie –ogre or glutton mask, may represent a number of gods or monsters, guardians that protected people from evil spirits. • They were highly polished and some were brushed with black pigments. • Over time, they developed patinas – blue, green and reddish color that resulted with the interaction with the soil Ding (ceremonial food vessel). Shang dynasty, 11th century BCE. Bronze, 8 and 3/8 inches. Seattle Art Museum
  12. 12. Zhou • Yu– another bronze form • Complicated form that uses intricately entwined human and animal figures • Decorated with miniature scrolls and serpentine forms • Pattern and ryhthms are carefully arranged to accent and complement the shapes of these vessels Yu. Western Zhou dynasty. 9 and ¼ inches high. C. 10th century BCE
  13. 13. Zhou • Jade –closely associated with the mainstream of Chinese art and philosophy • In pre-Shang period, jades found in Shang tombs may have been venerated heirlooms • By late Zhou, it gained divine qualities and was the perfect material for the carving of objects in religious rituals • The solid areas represent the the undulating bodies of dragons, while the interacting pattern of open spaces can be read as a grinning taotie. Jade openwork plaque of intertwined Animals and Birds , 4th-3rd century BCE Zhou dynasty, Warring States period, 475-221 BCE Pale green and whitish, translucent nephrite (form of jade) 4.7 x 6.7 x 0.6 cm (1 7/8 x 2 5/8 x 1/4 in.)
  14. 14. Jade • Importance of Jade– (as summarized by Confucius in Liji, “Book of Rites”) • Men in ancient times equated • Gleaming surface – benevolence • Luminous quality – knowledge • Unyielding nature – uprightness • Jade is compact and strong, symbol of intelligence, truthfulness and moral leadership (without blemish)
  15. 15. Qin • King Chen of the Qin kingdom, ruled in 221 BCE after the Period of the Warring States • First to unify China • He assumed the name Qin Shihhuangdi (August First Emperor of Qin) • In his new system, only the imperial family had true hereditary governing privileges. • Aristrocrats in government were determined by the emperor’s whim (favors with the emperor). • Contributions: standard forms of script, coinage, system of government, first large scale factories, laid the foundations of the Great Wall The section built under Qin Dynasty, one of the 3 main phases. The other two: Han and Ming
  16. 16. Qin • In 1974, workers digging a well at Lintong near Xi’an (Shaanxi province) discovered the first of the 3 large burial pits for Emperor Qin Shihhuangdi. • A funerary tomb containing the following: • Pit 1—army of over 8,000 lifesize, polychrome, terra cotta soldiers standing in attention in correct military formation • Pit 2- more than 1400 chariots (some inlaid in gold and silver), bronze horses, archers, infantry men and cavalry Pit 1 of Qin tomb
  17. 17. Qin • Pit 3– much smaller group of elite special forces • Hundreds of artists and workers produced the incredible spectacle • System of production – prefabricated molded body parts • Parts made separately and joined • Costumes and faces were carved and modeled individually on thin fine moist clay. Bronze chariot for the Emperor
  18. 18. Qin General of Qin Shih Huang Terra cotta warriors and horses
  19. 19. Han • Wu family tombs represent one of the earliest stone bas-reliefs. • These reliefs are some of the most important surviving examples of early Chinese pictorial art. • The Wu family created a complex of tombs from 151 to 170 CE. • They were not aristocrats but members of the newly emerging official class that served the imperial government. • The tomb bas-reliefs praise Confucian virtues, which help the deceased get to paradise. Detail from a rubbing of a relief in the Wu family shrine. Eastern Han dynasty. c. 151 CE, Jiaxiang, Shandong, China. Middle, figures paying homage to a seated man Above, banquet in a roofed pavilion Below, procession of chariots and foot soldiers
  20. 20. Han A pair of que, or "pillar gates", small monumental gate towers standing in front of the Wu Family Shrines built in Shandong province, China, during the 2nd century AD. This photo was taken at the turn of the 20th century by Édouard Chavannes (died 1918).
  21. 21. Period of Disunity: 6 Dynasties • Six dynasties (220-589 CE): period that followed the fall of Han dynasty saw the rise and fall of many governments and ongoing, bloody civil wars. • Central Asian groups conquered north of China and drove many Chinese towards the southeast. • Many practice Daoist-derived magic and superstitions and many became hermits/ascetics. • Spread of Buddhism and fusion with Daoist and Confucian ideas. Flying Horse Poised on One Leg on a Swallow From the tomb of Gov. General Zhang Wuwei, Gansu. Late Han Dynasty, 2nd century CE, bronze. 13.5x17 ¼ inches
  22. 22. Wei • Central Asian Wei dynasty, which ruled portions of Northern China after 388 CE, created important Buddhist religious centers. • They played host to Buddhist monks and artists. • They had workers build 53 caves along about 1 mile of the cliffs with colossal Buddhas, as protectors of their kingdom. • This is in atonement for the persecution made by the father of Emperor Wen Cheng who persecuted Buddhism from 446- 452. Colossal Buddha, Cave 20, Yungang, Shanxi, late 5th century. Stone. Height is 45 feet. Façade has fallen as this was used to be in a niche intended to be experienced in darkness.
  23. 23. END OF PART ONE
  24. 24. Reference • O’Riley, Michael Kampen, Art Beyond the West, Second Edition, 2006, Pearson Education, Inc.