2. Six Dynasties Period
• Large murals from the palaces of the
Period of Disunity have not survived.
• Copies of hanging and hand scrolls
hint of the style of the murals.
• An example of such copy is the one
• The painting is on a silk scroll 30 ft
long (12 inches wide) and is mean to
be experienced slowly.
• Of high quality and describes society
at that time.
• The text and image explains the
virtues expected of a good wife and
the proper behavior of women
attached to the court.
Portion of the hand scroll Admonitions of
The Instructress to the Ladies of the Palace.
Gu Kaizhi (c.335-406). Text by
Zhang Hua (232-300) Six Dynasties Period.
Ink and color on silk. 9 ¾ inches (height).
The British Museum.
3. Artists at that time used very fine lines to detail facial features and hair. Supple
lines for the hair, clothing and bodies.
By the 7th century, seal or colophon inscriptions, usually in red was added to paintings to
indicate ownership. Medium is finely cut stone emblem seals carved with the Old seal
script and red inks.
By around 11th century, subsequent owners or connoisseurs began adding their
colophons. Though intrusive, these markings by owners and respected critics give the
paintings added value.
5. Six Dynasties Period
• Calligraphy became an accepted art
form during the Period of Disunity by
the 3rd century CE.
• Came from the Greek words: kallos
(beauty) + graphia (writing)
• Chinese writers have generally
regarded it as their country’s principal
art form in the last thousand years.
• It is the most important and widely
practiced art form in China due to the
importance given to writing and
exchange of personal correspondence.
Wang Jingxian, ed., Preface to the Orchid Pavilion
Manuscript , 353 AD, detail. 24.5 x 69.9 cm.
Collection National Palace Museum-Beijing.
6. • In Shang Period, oracle bones were used, bones with inscribed characters that
were used in religious rites of divination by their leaders.
• This ties writing, religion and government together.
• Writing is so important enough to be seen by the gods and leaders.
• Paper was invented in China around the 2nd century BCE. By the 1st century CE,
many artists and calligraphers were working with ink on absorbent papers that
were capable of capturing the most subtle nuances of brushwork.
• Masters of calligraphy are emulated for their skill. They are normally highly
educated and can have a mass number of followers or students.
• By 11th century, with the development of “poem-paintings”, images painted with
ink and brush were accompanied by a related poem. In this way, the linking of the
two forms, calligraphy and painting, became complete.
Qiao Zhongchang, Illustration to the Second Prose Poem on the Red Cliff, late 11th or early 12th century
7. • The Clerical Script (200 BCE) – ink made of soot, glue and water on bamboo or
strips of silk, less formal
• The Cursive Script (4th century CE) – highly inventive in forming characters, became
the classic form of Chinese writing
• The Drafting Script (7th century) – spirals and flowing forms, provided calligraphers
with even more opportunities to be creative
Clerical script from
Cursive script from
Drafting script from
8. Sui and Tang
• Sui dynasty was short-lived (589-
618) and reunited China under a
single emperor and paved the
way for the Tang emperors.
• Tang dynasty ushered in the
golden age of Chinese civilization.
• It was a marked by a sense of
majesty, dignity and confidence in
all the arts.
• The empire was larger, stronger
and wealthier than that of their
Muslim contemporaries (trading
• Had splendid capitals at Luoyang
and Chang’an (Xi’an).
Silk Road and diverse population
Including Japanese, Koreans, Jewish
• Some of the best-preserved and most
important paintings and sculptures from
this period were found in the cave shrines
at Dunhuang, Gansu, western China.
• Guanyin, a bodhisattva of mercy, became
highly popular in China at this time.
• Bodhisattva’s are sexless and in this case,
the Guanyin’s androgyny is deliberate.
• It expresses a universal or celestial form of
love unlimited by issues of gender.
• The elegant Guanyin is garbed in finely
patterned, semi-transparent silks amidst
swirling clouds beneath, a picture of
pincely dignity and calm.
Guanyin as the Guide of Souls
Dunhuang, 10th century. Painting
on silk. 31 x 21” British Museum.
10. Northern and Southern
• Emerged a new class of scholar-official
apart from the nobles.
• They gained wealth and power and
began collecting art.
• A commercial art market that was
independent of the imperial courts
grew in size.
• The new artists celebrated nature by
depicting its grand nature.
• Painting or contemplating a landscape
became a spiritual act for city and
country dwellers alike.
• Anti-aristocratic sentiment prevailed.
• Chan Buddhism (Zen) was the only sect
that survived persecutions and
reflected the new ideals.
• Fan Kuan (active c. 990-1030)
• One of the best known artists of
• Hermit and mountain traveller
• Developed the textured stroke
• Renowned for the sternness of his
• Ma Yuan (active c. 1190-1225)
• Painter of the scholar-official class
who worked for the court
• A government official and a
gentleman but a painter by
• Captured the cosmic rhythm by
using empty space to represent
water, mist and sky.
11. Fan Kuan
Travelers amid Mountains and Streams
Northen Song dynasty
Ink on silk
6 feet and 9 ¼ inches
National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Dancing and Singing Peasants
Returning From Work
Ink on silk
Beijing Palace Museum
• Song ceramics express the ideals of
sobriety and simplicity, soft
monochrome mat finishes, and a
sense of strong unity or harmony
• Glazes that are nearly monochromatic
(off-white, soft blue, grayish-green,
• With distinctive crackle pattern due to
contraction of the glaze
• Celadon – a type of glaze and a ware
of celadon color
Vase, Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), 12th–
13th century; Longquan ware. China, Zhejiang
Province Porcelaneous stoneware with relief
decoration under celadon glaze; H. 6 3/4 in. (17.1
Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950
14. Yuan (1278-1368)
• Mongols –ruled China during the
• Genghis Khan (Temuchin or Temujin
in the east) united the Mongols and
swept across Asia and conquered
• Created an empire larger than that of
the Romans, Arabs or earlier Chinese
• In 1279, Kublai Khan, his grandson,
overrun China where he ruled as the
first Yuan emperor until 1294
• Mongol leaders formed a separate
class at the apex of Chinese society
• They commissioned carpets,
metalwork and ceramics.
Genghis Khan as portrayed in a
14th-century Yuan era album.
Ten Thousand Bamboo Poles in a Cloudy Mist
Handscroll, 1308, ink on paper, 6” inches height
National Palace Museum, Taiper, Taiwan
--the earliest surviving work by a woman in China
--bamboo, a favorite subject because of its appearance
--bamboo is a symbol of flexibility and resiliience (male)
--for Guan, it represents marital fidelity, symbol of the
faithful wives of a mythical sage and emperor who threw
themselves on the river at the emperor’s death.