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Chinese Art History, Essay Example

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Coursework

The approach adopted for the discussion on the history of Chinese culture follows a dynastic view where the history is classified on the dynastic framework. The arts of the various dynasties have distinct characteristics from each other and provide an exhaustive and sequential approach to the history of Chinese art. Unlike the western approach on the history of this art, this approach puts into context the understanding of the Chinese people in the subject as the approach is similar to their view on the history of the art.

The Division of Era and Art Development in China

Sullivan provides that the documentation of the history of art in China dates back to the Stone Age eras (12). The Neolithic periods marked with art that consisted of painted pots and was the initial form of art in china that span for a considerable duration of time. The painted pottery’s main use included furnishing burial sites especially in the Yangshao area and Banshan region. The presence of painted pottery from the Neolithic age also spreads top vital parts of the country implying the wide spread of the art among the locals. Silcock articulates that the Banpo painters, for instance, made red pottery and ware then painted geometric designs and some time with fishes and faces on the pottery the use of swirl patterns also employed in the decoration (75). This period was predominant with ceramics, later copied to bronze during the subsequent times. These ceramics informed the current sophisticated ceramic art.

The ceramics during this age fell into two categories that are the pottery and porcelain. The Neolithic Chinese writings, although not perfect calligraphy, show the initial development of the art of calligraphy. These inscriptions considered as small ancient script was succeeded by longer inscriptions in the Bronze Age and referred to as big seal script.  The concept of jade was also widespread through the area, and the main jade carvings followed common shapes. Bone and ivory carvings also emerged in this age and gave developments to the carvings in the next age.

As the era passed from one dynasty to another, the reign of the western Zhou did not alter the development of art but amplified and supported art. According to Sullivan, the inscriptions on bronze give significance to the rise of a moral code and the Zhou court became the focus of the development of music, art, pageantry and poetry (32). The writing of orders of the day to be offered to the ruler on bamboo and thereafter preserved on ceremonial bronze ware show the development of art as early as 947 BC. The study of the early Zhou based on these writings shows the features of civilization through writing.

The architecture during this period stands out and shows a sense of artistic and designed structures. Walls characterized the cities and the concept spread across the country with the developments of larger cities. The most of these architectural structures were monumental buildings and ancestral halls. Towers built from wood were also present and used as fortresses and lookout towers. The earliest bronze ware from the Western Zhou includes inscriptions on these artifacts and forms a style of communication to the ancestors and a form of recording posterity. The length of these inscriptions was as long as several hundred characters and, therefore, a source of preserving history. The models of the bronze in this age were more developed as compared to that of the previous era. The shapes of the bronze changed due to the changing beliefs of individuals and reduced the use of animal shapes, but ritual vessels followed the animal shapes. Although the evidence on jade during this era is not vast, it provides that jade included incisions on flat surfaces. The significant number of jade artifacts point to the used as ritual and funerary objects.  In relation to this, Sullivan proves that the process of developing the Chinese architecture remains as a strong indication of how the community’s realization of social development strongly became related to how they define the art that would provide them a particular reputation in the future.

The art from the Eastern Zhou and periods of the warring states provide a rich context of art in the history of Chinese arts. During this period, the Chinese culture did not change but rather developed to incorporate more techniques and diversity. The period of war brought along development and change coupled with the use of intelligence. Although during the period of warring states rituals were considered of lesser importance to leaders, the lining of tombs with bronze was still rampant during this period. The bronze recovered from the tombs from this era r5ange from late and subdued versions of Xinzheng to rather brilliant examples of a matured style of art of the third and fourth centuries. The old Shang culture still survived during this period and portrayed an extravagance of the feudal courts (40). The use of bronze signified wealth and power among these individuals and portrayed the sense of high culture. The initial use of bronze in this period was similar to the previous one because the artisans and workshops from the previous regimes were maintained. However, as the tastes of the Zhou court changed the style of bronze. The style of bronze further changed since the rise of feudal states and the adoption of foreign ideas and techniques. The feudal courts started developing artistic styles of their own and styles of bronze changed rapidly. The most significant among these was interlacing of animal images on intricate patterns. Sinking the images below the surface and inlaying them in either gold or silver takes the progress a step further. During this era, the elitists of the society became less prominent hence making way for the middle ranked members of the society to take a chance in appealing to the bronze era in Chinese art.

The influence of the nomads of the Chinese arts originated from the decoration of knives, daggers and harnesses with animal carvings. Sullivan states that the nomads, however, had no influence on the pottery of the Chinese, but their methods of glazing the ceramics improved considerably to include shapes that are more elegant and often-imitating bronze (49). The development of textile and especially including artistic works sprouted during this period and evidenced by the geological remains extracted from burial sites. Cult objects especially from the Chu region depict artistic elements and include grotesque forms mainly animal heads. Pictorial arts on linen usually found on graves show the further development of art in the period. Although designed during the Shang dynasty, the development since then provides refinement of high levels. The use of lacquer for this purpose produced incredible lightness and delicacy to the painted backgrounds. The findings of bronze mirrors used for reflections show the further development of the Chinese arts.  The mirrors take the form of decorated bronze disks. The mirror developed significantly during the warring states period.

Conclusion

All through these years, the refinement of Chinese art was able to retain the reputable sense of what Chinese culture was about. Unique as it is, the artistic forms of porcelain and linens as well as the distinct creation of architectural art in the country continues to be recognized as elite and superb around the world at present. Considerably, the Chinese defined art continues to follow a certain pattern that makes it easily identifiable even in the face of the production of modern art that becomes more internationally recognized as the amalgamation of different cultures. Understandably, such course of development provides China a distinctive reputable source of original art.

Works cited

Sullivan, Michael. The Arts of China. University of California press. 2009. Print.

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