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Daoism Influence, Essay Example

Pages: 7

Words: 1807

Essay

Daoism Influence in Han Dynasty

Throughout the Chinese history and culture, the Han Dynasty has served as the golden age. Within this time period the culture embraced music, literature, poetry, and visual works of art. Daoist ideas such as immortality, and spiritually was influential not only throughout Han Dynasty, but in key pieces of art which carried on for many centuries. For Daoism it was influential throughout its politics, religion, and more importantly in its artwork. Daoism used many mediums such as bronze, jade, silk, paper, and much more. Daoism was immensely popular in celebrating the concepts of the supernatural which is used throughout its art. Art has always had a profound impact on society. Art is considered any endeavor though to have meaning and be an aesthetic beyond comprehension. As famous poet Hall writers, “Fine works of art can imbue viewers with a joyful spirit and harmonious feeling: this is why art possesses an aesthetic value.” (Yl’e, 2000) Throughout this paper, it will look at Daoism and its influence on art and the society in the Han Dynasty.

In getting an understanding of how influential art is China, and how Daoism came to be an essential factor within the dynasty, this paper will provide a brief history on the Han Dynasty. During the before the Three Kingdoms and after the Qin Dynasty, the Han Dynasty was established after the death of Shih Huang-TI, and the Liu Pang conquered China. Liu Bang or otherwise known by some in history as Liu Pang, was a firm believer in Confucius, and restored as a guide for imperial administration. Confucianism was used alongside the legalistic philosophy, in which helped to reunite China, was additionally used as a basis for educational curriculum, individual conduct, and correct official. Han Dynasty more or less defined the country of China, even presently. “To this day, the overwhelming majority of Chinese are called “people of the Han” – the name of China’s dominant ethnic group referring to the expanse of time when the Chinese people were subjects of the Han Dynasty.” (Indiana University 1) During the Han Dynasty philosophy, literature, and poetry flourished during 141 to 86 B.C. Sima Qian established “Sima” the standard for many of the government sponsored history, which recorded many of the great records of those who lived along the borders. Many of the highly educated and bureaucratic class followed Confucius writing, and other historical writings.

During the Han Dynasty, there were many Pre-Daoist works that were commonly created by Chinese artists. One of the most common were Zhou bronzes, Jiaguwen, and Jinwen. Even before the Han Dynasty, the use of Bronze was a popular method among Chinese artists. The Bronze Age started around 2000 B.C, and in many respects helped to established social order, and later to be served as a ritualized statecraft. Bronze work was commonly used with rituals, and with used for many different means. According to the Asia Society, “during the Han dynasty, bronze was used to make a wide range of vessels as well as weights, tallies, sculptures for tombs, lamps, censers, coins, mirrors, and other objects.” (Asia Society Museum) Some of the bronze work including the “Wine-Warming Vessel: Wenjiazun” (206 B.C.E.-9 C.E.) In which was bear-shaped foot cylindrical vessel used mostly for cosmetic storage. The art, like much during the Han Dynasty was influenced by the presence of animal mythical and humanoid creatures that were thought to serve as omens. Another type of popular art during the Han Dynasty, before the influence of Daoim was, Jiaguwen. Made of oracle bones was a pictographic script commonly used in ritual, made from turtle shells or animal bones. In addition, the Jinwen, was another type of Pre-Daoist art that was made commonly during the Han Dynasty. Jinwen was used closely with Bronze statues of inscriptions during both the Shang and Han Dynasties.

For society during the Han Dynasty, they largely believed in Confucian ideology, and supported a more literate society, in which records were profusely taken. They also established a music of the day, in which they provided detail descriptions of the many songs, techniques, and instruments that were played.  Even in the temples, the music was based on ritual or those played in the banquets. Dance was also popular, as well as the many arts in which drama were performed depicting the deeds of the warriors in battle. They focused more on architectures, as they provided model houses, painted tombs, and created vaulted roofs that have stood well through time. The art that was conducted includes portraits, figures, silk painting, and statues that were displayed in temples and in many privileged homes. Daoism soon began to become a movement for the Chinese artists.

In looking at the Han Dynasty, Daoism was not a new concept, however, before the Han Dynasty (c.200) there was no Daoism. Daoism presented organized ideas and writers in which represented the available intellectual alternatives. Created by the Records of the Historian, Sima Tan, Daoists were considered one the Six Schools: Daoists, School of Names, Legalist, Mohist, Confucian, and Yin-Yang. Daoism was considered a retroactive grouping of writings and ideas, which had already over a century old.  Laozi, is thought to be the founder of the school of thought which thought to be in Daodejing, and Laozi. While Chang Tao-ling a Daoist leader sparked the large movement towards shamanism, that combined the practices and traditional beliefs that incorporates causing human suffering, the ability to cure, and the ability to diagnose. The two core texts of Daoism is Dao, and the Daodejing “Sculpture of the Way and Virtue” or the Laozi.  These books more thought to be the bible of Daoism, were guidelines for self-cultivation and virtuous rulership.

In only a matter of time after its start in the Han Dynasty, Daoism quickly developed into an organized religion, in which was a response the Buddhist institutional structure. Its growth spawned many schools with various approaches and ideas, as well as collection of texts, and lineup of gods. Daoism religion is from the same philosophical thinking as Confucius and Buddhism, because many of the people tasked with creating architecture, books, images, and art were the same artisans. Daoism focus on worshiping different deities, immortality, and ghosts. Daoism has a strong connection to pursuing immortality by becoming roaming spirits in the heavens in which they create talisman, statues, and other parts to support their beliefs.

Daoism influence on Art was related to the doctrines, their ceremonial observances, and their beliefs in gods. Their correlation with Daoism and art became more clear as it found many factors into the form of social ideology, that reflected the way of life for the Chinese. “Daoist art reflects the broad timespan and the diverse regions, constituencies, and practices of its creators.” (Augustin, 2011)  Daoist doctrines surrounding the ceremonial observances and beliefs in gods, largely contributed to the influence of art during the Han Dynasty. Art was already developing rapidly with portraits, statutes, and other pieces being created, many of the Daoist art reflected the religious and spiritual teachings, that revolved around the supernatural. The Secret Pavilion created by Emperor Wu (r. 140-86 BC) started to collect Daoist calligraphy and pictures. Many of the surviving Daoist work during the Han Dynasty are from applied arts, stone, tiles, textiles, and wall paintings (murals). Hans graves used terracotta sculpture such as yong or ming-chi. While also utilizing jade carving, used jade cutting and goldsmithing that had religious meaning, believed to be mystical, and life giving.

In comparing some of the Daoist ideas and beliefs in the Han Dynasty, many involved the aspects of Daoist religious beliefs, as pointed out in research, “A number of early Chinese books of spiritual interest claim to have been inspired by pictures seen on the walls of local temples.” (Ames, 2014) Other Daoist influences during Han Dynasty is their extant work of decorative motifs on various objects, lacquer, bronze, pictorial tiles, stone reliefs, cloth paintings, and tomb murals. Other artworks illustrated its affinity for bronze statues such as the Incense burner (boshan) from the tomb of Prince Liu Sheng, or Censer in the Shape of Mount Bo (Boshanlu). (25-220 C.E.) made from gilt bronze was made to resemble mountain peaks in other worlds. When smoke were to escape the holes, it was meant to be interpreted as cloud-breath in which draws from immortality. (Asia Society, 2014) Their importance is due to the imagery of deities high in the clouds, and dragons in which dwell on the mountain scape.

Daoist influence in art is made clear by the meanings and the imagery contained within the artwork. Images such as Tianlu (Tomb Guardian) that was made to guard the tomb of the emperor, and mythological creature. Bixie (Mythical Animal) (206 C.E.) Made from bronze was influenced by the supernatural faith in mythical animals, in which gave support during the Han of the supernatural, made with a sense of movement and convincing realism found on most Han works. Daoist artwork was used a majority in funerary purposes in which highlighted the afterworld, and their belief in immortality. This influence on large murals, tombs, and even coffins, was based on the surge of popularity Daoism had gained during the Han Dynasty, as well as the fascination with the body actually doing something after humans die.

The Han Dynasty served as a time of many great inventions and innovations. Daoism was the popular faith in which celebrated many gods, as well as immortality, and death. Their ideals of immortality and the supernatural is illustrated through several works of art on numerous mediums, which have been used throughout the Chinese culture. Daoism influence in profound in creating visual works of arts that blend various colors to make vivid backgrounds telling a detailed story, to sculptures, or works of art that highlights the realism in the movements and the purpose of what artwork serves. While Daoism can be seen as religion, it is also a philosophy that many of the Chinese people embraced, as evident in their art.

Works Cited

Ames, Roger. “Daoism.” Britannica. 4 November 2014. Web. 8 March 2015. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/582972/Daoism/42164/Influence-on-the-visual-arts

Augustin, Birgitta. “Daoism and Daoist Art”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2000. Web 8 March 2015. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/daoi/hd_daoi.htm

“Bixie (Mythical Animal).” Asia Society Museum. 2014. Web. 8 March 2015. http://www.asiasocietymuseum.org/region_object.asp?RegionID=4&CountryID=12&ChapterID=23&ObjectID=616

“Censer in the Shape of Mount Bo (Boshanlu).” Asia Society Museum. 2014. Web. 8 March 2015. http://www.asiasocietymuseum.org/region_object.asp?RegionID=4&CountryID=12&ChapterID=23&ObjectID=614

Girardot, N.J. Myth and Meaning in Early Daoism: The Theme of Chaos (hundun). Lulu.Com. 2008. Book.

Jianlong, Liu. “An Outline of Daoist Art.” Chinese-Art. Com. Liaoning Provincial Museum. Oct. 2000. Web. 30 January 2015. http://www.chineseart.com/Traditional/v2i3/liujianlong_textonly.htm

Kohn, Livia. Daoism Handbook. Brill. 2000. Book.

Moeller, Hans-Georg. Daoism Explained: From the Dream of the Butterfly to the Fishnet Allegory. Open Court. 2013. Book.

“Wine-Warming Vessel: Wenjiazun,” Asia Society Museum. 2014. Web. 8 March 2015. http://www.asiasocietymuseum.org/region_object.asp?RegionID=4&CountryID=12&ChapterID=23&ObjectID=612

Yi’e, Wang. “The Origins of Daoist Art.” Chinese-Art.Com. Volume 2, Issue 2. October 2000. Web. 30 January 2015. http://www.chinese-art.com/Traditional/v2i3/wangyie_textonly.htm

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