History of Chinese Art: A Guide on the Oldest Art Traditions

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From distinct calligraphy strokes to bright colors on canvases, ancient Chinese art is considered one of the oldest art traditions on the global scale.

After all, while the world was slowly learning how to write, the great plains were creating art for both sheer enjoyments as well as record keeping. This is where the importance of the history of Chinese art comes in.

You might have been spending too much time looking at ancient Chinese art pieces. Yet, you’re not familiar with their historical origin, no worries. Keep on reading for our full breakdown of the unique characteristics of ancient Chinese art and tradition. We’ve got you covered.

 

History of Chinese Art 101

Did you know that Chinese customs are the world’s oldest continuously existing art traditions? China’s early “stone age art,” which mainly consisted of rudimentary ceramics and sculptures, dates back to 10,000 B.C.E.

This was followed by a succession of dynasties, the majority of which lasted hundreds of years. Scholars and aristocrats maintained Chinese artistic traditions through dynasty transitions. Also through, governmental breakdowns, Mongol and Manchurian invasions, wars, and famines.

Then, with each succeeding dynasty, artisans modified them. Its own features and advancements may identify each dynasty’s art.

The Purpose of Chinese Art

There was a significant distinction between China and many other ancient civilizations. The majority of Chinese painters were male hobbyists (and a few women) who were also academics. They were often men of literary who wrote poetry and were students of Confucius and his somber ideals.

For them and their audience, art was a way of capturing and presenting the philosophical approach to life that they cherished. As a result, their work is typically simple and unadorned, almost austere to Western eyes.

Throughout much of China’s history, art was intended to convey the artist’s excellent character. Rather than simply showcasing his technical, creative abilities.

Many people who created and consumed art were looking for Confucian ideals like propriety or li.

You’ll want to always keep in mind that authentic Chinese art always comes with a story and a purpose. View this article for the main signs that can help you distinguish between authentic and fake Chinese artifacts.

Common Characteristics of Ancient Chinese Art

Among the oldest gems of Chinese art are cast bronze pieces as well as jade sculptures and carvings.

The Book of Songs, which contains songs written between 1000 B.C.E. and 600 B.C.E., contains the beginnings of Chinese music and poetry. Fragments of painting stone, silk, and lacquer objects that have been rather common in the Warring States era are the oldest surviving examples of Chinese painting.

Paper, which was developed in the first century C.E., eventually supplanted silk. Painting and calligraphy were highly valued arts in royal circles, beginning with the founding of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (265–420).

Brushes and ink were utilized on silk or paper by both artists. Figure paintings were the first to appear, followed by landscapes and bird-and-flower paintings. Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism all had a significant influence on the topic and style of Chinese art.

 

Ready to Explore the Wide World of Ancient Art Cultures?

If you’re a newbie to the art world, things can be rather overwhelming for your untrained eyes. Of course, no one was born an art history connoisseur. So, we hope that our little guide has shed some light on the history of Chinese art.

And, if you enjoyed reading this article, you’ll definitely want to check out our additional tips and posts. All will be available to you in our arts and lifestyle sections.

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