Traditional Chinese Art and Crafts
Chinese art, like Chinese literature, goes back many centuries.
Random photo: Impressions of China
Early themes were developed from religious and supernatural beliefs or from the natural environment and landscape. Chinese paintingis rooted in the decorative striations or patterns on prehistoric pottery. Archeologists call the ancient Chinese vessels with their beautiful markingspainted pottery. Chinese paintings are generally placed in one of four categories: Religious, Portraits, Landscapes, or Flora and Fauna. Religious paintings usually represent Buddhas and Taos Gods. Portraits depict courtesans, emperors, and villages from the past. Landscapes and Flora and Fauna paintings portray the central place of nature in Chinese thought.
The magnificent life-size terra-cotta statues of men and horses, discovered in the early 1970s in the tomb of an emperor who died in 210 BC, provide some indication of the long history ofChinese sculpture. After the introduction ofBuddhisminto China, Buddhist subjects became dominant themes of the sculptor's art. Perhaps best known (and most copied) in the West, however, are the works of Chinese decorative artists, such as pottery,bronzes, lacquer ware, and exquisitely detailedjadeand ivory carvings.
The Chinese were master craftsmen and produced fine sculpture, especially in bronze. Although bronze casting existed a thousand years earlier, it was in the Chou period (1122-221 BC) that China developed the art to its peak.
One of the most magnificent archaeological finds of the century was the tomb of Shi Huangdi at Xi'an, China. In March 1974 an underground chamber was found containing an army of more than 6,000 life-size terra-cotta soldiers of the late 3rd century BC. Other nearby chambers contained more than 1,400 ceramic figures of cavalrymen and chariots, all arranged in battle formation.
In China the potter's workmanship was lifted above the utilitarian level and became a fine art. The great work of the imperial potters at the peak of their excellence has never been equaled in modern times.
Chinese folk art is an important part of the country's extremely rich cultural and art heritage. It is as extensive as any in the world. Each section of China had its own styles, and the entire output of art was enormous for both family and community use. The art associated with festivals, weddings, and funerals was extravagant even among the poor, and vestiges of it can still be Seen in Chinese holiday celebrations.
The folk artist is at its best in understanding and depicting life in its wholeness, and apt to show its rhythms and melodies. It relies on its intuition, impressions and memories, as well as experience and understanding of life to grasp the essence of the phenomena or objects he depicts, thus making the artistic images quite different from their original models. In artistic representation and expression, works of folk art are straightforward, natural, flexible, free from affectedness, vivid and intimate.
Paperwas invented in China, and much folk art using paper was devoted to making shop signs and festival objects. The design and execution of wood-block prints has already been noted.
The production of furniture provided some of the finest examples of Chinese folk art. Before the introduction of Buddhism from India in about the 1st century AD, the Chinese used little in the way of furniture, normally sitting on the floor cross-legged or on stools. Buddhism introduced a more formal kind of sitting on chairs with back rests, and with chairs came other types of furniture.
More about Traditional Chinese Art and Crafts
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- Carved Marks
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- Chinese Painting
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- Jade Articles
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- Pottery and Porcelain
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