The Art of China Chapter 10.2 The Beginnings of Chinese Civilization The history of China is marked by the rise and fall of dynasties and kingdoms. Recorded in the long history of China is a similar succession of dynasties, each with it’s own unique problems and its own special contributions to art. Chinese civilization is the oldest continuous culture in the world. As it grew, its people gained skill and knowledge in many different fields. Chinese accomplishments: The compass Paper Porcelain Printing with carved wood blocks Early Bronze Vessels Skill in bronze casting was developed at an early date in Chinese history Bronze vessels found in ancient graves reveal that Chinese artisans had developed these skills by the First Dynasty, also known as the Shang Dynasty which began around 1766BC. Many of the early bronze vessels show extraordinary technical mastery that probably took centuries to master. The Chow Dynasty followed the Shang Dynasty in 1030B.C. They produced little change in art and gave way to the powerful Han Dynasty in 206B.C. Early Chinese Painting The art of painting is mentioned in Chinese literature several centuries before the birth of Christ. A women named Lei is mentioned as the first Chinese painter Unfortunately no paintings have survived from this period. Written reports tell us that paintings of great skill and beauty were created and appreciated. The Arrival of Buddhism During The Han Dynasty Near the end of the Han Dynasty, the religion of Buddhism which originated in India, came to China. Had a great impact on how artists approached their work. Helped raise artists to a position of respect and admiration in Chinese society. Chinese were the first to consider the painting of pictures an honorable task and were highly regarded. Standing Buddha Statue Gilded Bronze 55x19in 477A.D. Bodhisattva - A person who had either postponed death or made the decision to return to the world for the purpose of bringing comfort and offering guidance to the living. One of the largest sculptures surviving from this period With a serene smile, he extends his open hands in a sign of welcome and a promise of peace that must have been reassuring and calming to those who saw it. Unlike ancient Greek sculptors, the Chinese did not regard the body as a thing of beauty and did not regard sculpture as an important art form This cause them to limit their sculptures to religious portraits such as this sculpture. The Importance of Meditation Buddhism like other Eastern religions, places great emphasis on meditation. This emphasis has an important impact on Chinese art. Meditation is the process of focusing one’s thoughts on a single object or idea. It allows one to experience completely the inherent beauty or meaning of that object or idea. Buddhist monks will remain motionless in meditation for hours, or even entire days. They may contemplate a leaf sagging from the weight of raindrops, or the possible meanings of single words. Chinese artists found meditation enabled them to recognize beauty of a leaf, a tree, a rock, or a mountain. They were then better prepared to capture that beauty in their paintings. Increased Concern for Landscape Painting For more than a thousand years the figure dominated in Chinese painting, just as in the West. By the ninth century began seeing a bigger appreciation for nature and by the eleventh century this trend was complete. While western artists continued to focus on people, artists in China preferred to concentrate on nature and landscape painting. To gain the knowledge and skills of Chinese painting, artists spent years copying earlier artists but were also expected to add their own touches. Scroll Painting Earliest Chinese paintings to have survived over time are hanging scrolls and horizontal scrolls, or hand scrolls. Scroll – a long roll of illustrated parchment or silk and were designed to be rolled and easy to store When their owners were in the mood for quiet reflection they took them out, like taking a book from a shelf to read. Unrolling the scroll section by section allowed the viewer to journey from scene to scene The End of the Han Dynasty The culture of the Han Dynasty rivaled that of the Roman Empire, which was flourishing at the same time in history. The Han Dynasty extended over a 400 year period, the second longest in Chinese history. A series of weak emperors brought the Han Empire to an end. There followed a period, beginning at the close of the third century AD in which China was divided into a number of small states. None of the states were stone enough to conquer the others and finally restore a unified empire. After a period chaos, a new dynasty, the Tang dynasty assumed control and ruled for nearly 300 years. The Powerful Tang Dynasty China reached a peak of power and influence. People enjoyed prosperity. The army expanded the boarders of the empire. Foreign trade increased Buddhism grew in strength Night-Shining White Han Gan c. 742-56 Tang Dynasty Handscroll – Ink on paper Horses were highly prized by the Chinese. The emperor Ming Huang was said to own more than 40,000. The hand scroll shows one of his favorite horses rearing against the tether that binds him to the post. The many inscriptions are written approvals from collectors expressing their approval of the artwork. This can be found on many Chinese paintings and adds it’s own ornamentation. Use of Line One of the chief measures in excellence in Chinese painting throughout its long history is the quality of the brush line, which can be seen in the painting Night-Shining White. A delicate use of line is combined with subtle value gradations to give the animal a realistic appearance. This work demonstrates that the artist knew his subject well a applied his knowledge effectively to his art. The Stable Sun Dynasty Following the collapse of the Tang dynasty in 906, China experienced a period of confusion. Finally in 960 reunification was experienced under the Sung dynasty. The rule of this dynasty was a period of stability that produced great artists whose work has been admired for centuries. The Production of Porcelain During the Sung dynasty the production of porcelain had reached new heights. Porcelain – a fine grained, high quality form of china and is made from primarily white clay Relatively rare and can only be found in a few places in China. Europe, England, and North America After the vessel is made it is fired in a kiln to a very high temperature. It is then coated with a glaze for color and then fired once more. The Water and Moon Guanyin Bodhisattva Sung Dynasty Wood with Paint 95x65in Depicts a Bodhisattva figure traditionally associated with mercy and compassion. Relaxed attitude associated with Sung dynasty. Prayers to this Buddha-to-be were answered in the form of protection against any possible misfortune. Figure is resting a moss covered ledge, which contrasts with the splendid garments and jewels. Calm, gentle, and smiling, the figure offers no threat to those who approach. The direct gaze encourage viewers that the Bodhisattva is only concerned with them. Landscape Painting Sung dynasty was known for its great landscape artists. Claimed that the value of landscape painting lay in its capacity to to make viewers feel as if they were really in the place pictured. Clearing Autumn Skies over Mountains and Valleys, the artist invites you to journey beneath the trees of a mountain landscape. As you unroll the scroll you can journey through the forest of towering pines, pause beside the flowing stream, and gaze up and the misty mountains. Use of Multiple Vanishing Points Unlike Western paintings, Chinese art makes use of different vanishing points. Vanishing Point – used in perspective drawing, a point at which receding parallel lines seem to converge. As you unroll the scroll the perspective shifts and makes you feels as if you are indeed traveling through the image. Every opportunity is provided for you to stop and examine natural beauty, like flower heavy with dew or a butterfly on a flower. Nothing to distract you from quiet contemplation or meditation. Even shadows are eliminated so that they don’t interfere with efforts to enjoy the painting. Traditional Western Perspective Drawing with a Vanishing Point One Point Perspective Two Point Perspective The End of the Sung Dynasty In 1224 Genghis Khan and his powerful Mongol army swept into northwest China, bringing an end to the Sung Dynasty and a start t foreign rule in China Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan’s grandson, took over control of the country and established the Yuan dynasty. Artists such as Qian Xuan, painted scenes of a familiar Chinese theme, the quiet contemplation of nature. Wang-His-Chih Watching Geese Qian-Xuan c. 1295 Handscroll Ink, color, and gold on paper 9.5 x 36.5 inches Twin Pines, Level Distance Zhao Meng-Fu c.1310 Ink on Paper Painting was only started after a great amount of time was meditating on the subject. Practices his skills at representing nature for many years before actually painting the final picture. He would carefully study the paintings of earlier masters rather than studying nature. Only when his skills were perfected did he attempt to create a painting based on his own response to the natural world. Artworks like this were not done to tell a story, teach a lesson, or decorate a home. They were intended to inspire in the viewer the same thoughts that the artist had while creating the image. Use of the Elements and Principles What is NOT in the painting is as important as what you DO see. Most of the painting is simply left blank. Unity – The landscape has been reduced to its barest essentials. Space – The twin peaks rise in the foreground to give a strong sense of space in the landscape. Line – A few lines depict the hills in the distance and draw your attention to the expanse of the work. Emphasis – The artist shows concentration and confidence with the emphasis placed on each brushstroke. The Art of the Ming Dynasty Followed the collapse of the Yuan dynasty in 1368. Signified the end of foreign rule in China and the beginning of a new dynasty, the Ming dynasty. A time in which artists sought to restore the glories of the past. Painting = nature scenes of great beauty were done on silk and paper and continued traditions from the past Ceramics = a range of new styles and techniques were developed like the use of cobalt blue glazes on Chinese porcelain Decline of the Ming Dynasty Tribes from Manchuria conquered China in 1644. End of the Ming dynasty and start of the Ching dynasty which continued until 1912. Manchu rulers were determined to make the Chinese culture part of their own. Chinese painting experienced a decline during this time. Porcelain production fared better than painting and many fine works were produced. Unfortunately due to warfare and rebellion the 19th century resulted in the destruction of most kilns and the flight of talented artists. Vocab & Quiz Review Porcelain – a fine grained, high quality form of china and is made from primarily white clay Bodhisattva - A person who had either postponed death or made the decision to return to the world for the purpose of bringing comfort and offering guidance to the living. Scroll – a long roll of illustrated parchment or silk and were designed to be rolled and easy to store Vanishing Point – used in perspective drawing, a point at which receding parallel lines seem to converge.