Confucian & Taoist influences on Chinese Art & Culture Confucian temple in Kaohsiung, Taiwan Jared Quigley Confucianism • A philosophical religious tradition that emerged towards the middle of the Zhou Dynasty • Like Buddhism, based on the teachings of one man: Confucius (551-479 BCE) • After his death his sayings along with his followers were collected in a volume called The Analects which drew on cultural values anchored in ancient Chinese tradition, focusing on this world, rather than the next • Emphasized importance of traditional values of self control, propriety, filial piety to maintain a productive society “What the superior man seeks is in himself, what the small man seeks is in other” -Confucius • Confucius’ point of departure was the individual, rather than society • Individual = virtuous, family = living in harmony • If each family lives according to moral principals = the village is harmonious Four Qualities of Confucianism • • • • Li – proper attitudes towards conduct Jen – ideal relationships that should exist between people Te – moral example rather than the physical strength or might Wen – the arts are a form of moral education - Confucius, like the great philosopher Plato, believed music should be used to educate. It was meant to display the qualities of moderation & harmony, similar to his virtues of social & political life. Certain aspects of music were avoided, like the ability to induce excited states of emotion. Taoism “I am not at all interested in immortality, only in the taste of tea.” -Laozi • Founded by Laozi [LOW–ZEE] (b. 604 BCE) “The Old Master” • Like Confucianism, principally concerned with morality and ethical behavior to benefit those in the present world • Considered a philosophy rather than a religion • Teachings summarized in Tao Te Ching (The Way and its Power) Confucianism & Taoism • Confucianism represents the classical; Taoism represents the romantic • Confucianism stresses social responsibility; Taoism stresses responsibility towards nature • Confucianism emphasizes humans; Taoism emphasizes nature • Confucianism is practical; Taoism is mystical Cebu Taoist Temple, Beverly Hills, Cebu City, Philippines Art Emersion • China reunified after a half century of civil war at the end of the Tang Dynasty in 907 • Song emperors created two conditions necessary for artistic development: -An abundance of leisure time allowing for reformation of Confucian ideas known as Neo-Confucianism -The availability of patronage – which helped bring a resurgence in the art of painting & elaborations of art theory Seeking the Tao in the Autumn Mountains by Zhu Jan • Painting flourished during Song period • Represents Taoist influence as suggested in name • Huge mountains create a sense of the remote and eternal, rising in the center suggesting a modest position of humanity in the grand scale of the natural world • Tao is imminent , existing in nature, manifesting its ordering principle in the cycle of the seasons, flowing of rivers, & singing of birds Early Spring • Central peak represents the emperor himself, the tall pines the gentlemanly ideals of the court • The ideal Confucian & Buddhist world, the mountain, the trees, and the hills suggest the proper order and rhythm of the universe • Guo Xi used “the angle of totality” to develop multiple perspectives within the painting Guo Xi (ca. 1020-1090), Early Spring, dated 1072 Early Spring • Using textures strokes, a technique used by most Song landscapists, Guo illustrates credible, three dimensional forms • Incorporating 7-8 layers of ink in softer areas and broad outlines shows a preference for integration Guo Xi (ca. 1020-1090), Early Spring, dated 1072 • Gui Xi suggested mountains could be viewed in terms of "high farness" and "deep farness,“ or from horizontal and vertical perspectives • Through this he illustrates the “four possibilities” able to see, to walk , to travel and to live • Guo Xi’s work included large-scale paintings for the decoration of several halls at court • After his death his work had fallen so far out of favor a visitor to the court reports seeing someone using his paintings as rags Autumn in the River Valley By Guo Xi Neo - Confucianism • Abundance of leisure time in the Song allowed for reformation of confusion ideas • Unified the three creeds of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism into a single system of thought • One of China’s most influential rationalist Neo-Confucians Zhu Xi (1130–1200) stressed the "unity of the three creeds," the unity of the three great philosophies of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism • Zhu Xi maintained his Confucian beliefs of social harmony and proper personal conduct while relating it to the Buddhist observance of high moral standards The three teachings are one! • Confucians of the Song Dynasty studied the classical works of their faith, but were also familiar with Buddhist and Taoist teachings • Buddhism offered Confucians ideas related to the nature of the soul and relation of the individual to the cosmos, ideas not yet explored by Confucianism • This sparked the emergence of “The three creeds,” Confucius, Buddha, & Laozi in Chinese and Japanese painting, becoming popular during the Song and Yuan periods Sān Jiào This three way unity called Sān Jiào, literally means “Three Religions.” In Chinese and Japanese artwork, it spawned the pictorial theme known as the Three Patriarchs Confucius(hat) Buddha (curled hair) Laozi (elder) Sansuantu (Three Sages Tasting Vinegar) • Legend states a poet and his friend were journeying to a temple to visit a monk • The monk brought out a jug of peach wine to the delight of the three men • The men represent China’s three creeds illustrating “The three creeds are one” Sansuantu (Three Sages Tasting Vinegar) A second interpretation • Confucius displays a sour face toward life, because rules & regulations are not strictly obeyed • Buddha a bitter face of life’s suffering, sickness, old age, and death • Laozi smiles, life is harmony, sweet not sour or bitter, if one flows like water without interfering with the stream of life Huxi Sanxiao (Three Laughers of Tiger Ravine) • After an evening together these three men (a poet, Taoist, and Buddhist theologian) inadvertently cross the forbidden Tiger Ravine bridge • After crossing, all three broke into laughter enlightened by realizing a narrow view of one religion or philosophy is contrary to true religion • Variations represent China’s three creeds Discussion • Why is Taoism considered a philosophy rather than a religion? • What are some similarities/differences between Taoism & Confucianism? • How are Confucianism & Taoism portrayed through art? Poet on a Mountaintop, Shen Zhou, Ming dynasty, c.a. 1500 Portrays human beings as a small element within a large natural scence Three Laughers of Tiger Ravine Discussion • How do the ideas behind China’s “Three Creeds” unify?