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Ancient Chinese Art

Ancient Chinese Art

Ancient China was a hotbed of activity. Throughout their history, they have been the first to create and discover lots of many different pieces of society that we take for granted in modern times.

The Ancient Chinese are among some of the most influential cultures in the history of the world in many different areas.

ancient-chinese-art

One area where the Ancient Chinese had a profound effect during their time and in modern times as well as in the Arts.

Traditional Chinese Art has been evolving for thousands of years. It has been affected by the changing of dynasties, religions, and cultural influences.

The Three Perfections

The three perfections were three different specialties that were often combined in ancient Chinese arts. They were first used in the Arts during the Song Dynasty.

The three perfections included calligraphy, poetry, and painting.

Calligraphy

Calligraphy is the art of handwriting. While its importance has been observed in many different cultures and time periods, it was the Ancient Chinese who first introduced and perfected it as an art form.

It would take years for a calligrapher to master this art.

It involved writing the letters perfectly, and since there are over 40,000 different characters in the Chinese alphabet, you can imagine how hard this was to master!

Not only did these characters need to be made with precision, but a master calligrapher would need to learn the proper order of the strokes in order to make each character.

chinese-calligraphy

Poetry

While there were many master poets throughout Chinese history, this art form was not exclusive to the affluent. Every educated member of society was expected to write poetry.

Poets also had to be proficient calligraphers, since they would need to write their poetry with precision.

While this practice was important for much of China’s history, it was made even more so during the Tang Dynasty.

During this period, poetry became not only a good past time but also an important skill for finding a job.

A applicants mastery of poetry would be examined thoroughly before they could become a civil servant and work for the government.

Painting

Painting was the ultimate combination of the Three Perfections for the Ancient Chinese.

In this art form, master painters would combine their calligraphy and poetry with paintings of landscapes, which also featured homes, birds, water, and trees.

These paintings could be as small as a picture in a frame, or large enough to cover the walls of a palace.

chinese-painting

Other Art Forms

Unsurprisingly, several other types of important art forms come from Ancient China.

Their culture is over 8,000 years old after all! Aside from the Three Perfections, Chinese artists also utilized many other types of art.

Embroidery

Embroidery is one of the oldest recorded art forms from ancient China. It involves lacing different types of fabrics through a piece of clothing to decorate it in a fashionable way.

When it was first introduced, embroidery was a status symbol in Chinese culture.

Of course, the more influential a person, the fancier the article of clothing. The Dragon Robe worn by emperors was especially ornate.

Statues

The ancient Chinese were very adept at building all manner of statues.

This includes the beautiful Buddha that are found in their temples, the dragons in their palaces, and, of course, the world-famous Terracotta Army.

This army was created for the burial of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to keep him safe in the afterlife. It is made up of over 8,000 soldiers and 500 horses.

The most impressive part about all of these different pieces is that none of them are the same. They each have their own armor, weapons, and uniforms.

terracotta-army

Architecture

Ancient Chinese architects took great pride in their work, no matter if they were making a temple, house, or palace.

These buildings were made to stand the test of time, with each wall being independently supported by earth and timbers.

This has allowed for plenty of these buildings to still be standing even to this day.

Within each structure that the ancient Chinese built, they usually would place plenty of mosaics to decorate their walls.

This, along with their pointed roofs, gave Chinese buildings their signature look that has been recognizable for generations.

Porcelain

The ancient Chinese were experts at making vases, bowls, and bottles out of porcelain. Not only was this an important art form in ancient China, but it also turned into one of their most important exports.

During the Ming Dynasty especially, this type of art become prized by the wealthy and affluent in both Asia and Europe.

vase-ming-dynasty

Silk

No fabric is as synonymous with Ancient China as silk. They were the first peoples to master the art of making silk from the cocoons of silkworms.

In using this new found fabric, the ancient Chinese were able to make beautiful articles of clothing.

They kept the secret formula for making silk a secret for hundreds of years. In this way, they were able to become rich.

Puppets

The ancient Chinese utilized puppets for lots of different reasons. They might have been used as toys, by street vendors, or for plays.

These puppets could either be very simple or advanced, depending on what they were being used for.

Lacquer

The ancient Chinese utilize lacquer in many different buildings and shrines. It is a clear coating that is derived from the sap of the sumac tree.

It gives whatever surface it is applied to a beautiful clear shine. It also helps to keep art from becoming damaged by climate or pests.

This is why we are able to still enjoy so many pieces of old Chinese art to this very day.

lacquer-chinese-art

Fireworks

Ancient China was one of the most inventive societies that has ever existed. They were the first to invent fireworks.

Though they were originally intended as a weapon of war, they quickly became a fixture at festivals and celebrations throughout the empire.

This was another part of their culture that they kept a secret for many hundreds of years.

Opera

Though this art form of telling stories through song is thought mostly as originating in Europe during the Renaissance, it was also practiced in ancient China.

These performances were used to tell folk stories and plays. This helped to keep stories alive and to help them spread throughout the empire.

Literature 

Ancient China was also famous for its literature. This was not limited to poetry, however, as they also wrote works of fiction, philosophy, religion, and scientific findings.

The idea of literature came about at the same time as Chinese writing, as this allowed the authors to put their ideas to paper.

Weapons and Armor

The ancient Chinese were not always a peaceful people. Many different wars were fought throughout their history, making arms and armor a necessity.

As with many other things, the Chinese turned this matter into an art form, creating beautiful pieces of armor to both show the power of their empire, and how important a soldier might be.

As a soldier rose within the ranks of the army, the more ornate their armor would become.

More on Ancient China.