Chinese and Tibetan Art Oct. 9 - 18


This includes the world's most populous country, China and its territory of Tibet.

Click here for the PDF of the handout Common Characteristics of Chinese Art

Click here to preview or review our presentations from class:

  1. Introduction to The Art of China October 4

  2. The Art of China Part Two and the Tang Dynasty October 9

  3. The Art of Song and Yuan Dynasty China and Chinese Painting October 16

  4. The Art of Ming and Qing China and Tibet October 18

Click here to print out the slides from the presentations. Each is a PDF file formatted with six slides per page.

  1. PDF for Introduction to The Art of China PPT

  2. PDF for The Art of China Part Two and the Tang Dynasty PPT

  3. PDF for The Art of Song and Yuan Dynasty China and Chinese Painting PPT

  4. PDF for The Art of Ming and Qing China and Tibet

Required Readings:

  1. Shang and Zhou Dynasties (1600 - 771 BC) Homework! October 9. This essay describes the history and culture of Bronze Age China, from 2,000 - 221 BC. These cultures are famous for their beautiful and technically advances bronze ritual vessels.

  2. Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) Homework! October 9. This essay describes the political and economic history of the first Emperor of China who built the Great Wall and buried the Terra Cotta Army..

  3. The Tang Dynastey 618-906 AD Homework! October 11. An excellent summary of the political and artistic context for the Tang Dynasty with 18 representative artworks.

  4. Chinese Painting Homework October 11. Through eighteen examples (some the same as the essay above) the essay discusses the techniques of Chinese painting. "This is the aim of the traditional Chinese painter: to capture not only the outer appearance of a subject but its inner essence as well—its energy, life force, spirit. To accomplish his goal, the Chinese painter more often than not rejected the use of color. Like the photographer who prefers to work in black and white, the Chinese artist regarded color as distraction. He also rejected the changeable qualities of light and shadow as a means of modeling, along with opaque pigments to conceal mistakes. Instead, he relied on line—the indelible mark of the inked brush."

  5. Southern Song Dynastey (1127-1279) Homework! October 16 The Southern Song society was characterized by the pursuit of a highly aestheticized way of life, and paintings of the period often focus on evanescent pleasures and the transience of beauty. Images evoke poetic ideas that appeal to the senses or capture the fleeting qualities of a moment in time.

  6. Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) Homework! October 16. This short essay outlines the politics of the Mongol dominance of China. During the Yuan dynasty, China—for the first time in its long history—was completely subjugated by foreign conquerors and became part of a larger political entity, the vast Mongol empire. You'll learn how during this century of alien occupation, Chinese culture not only survived but was reinvigorated.

  7. Tibetan Buddhist Art Homework! October 16. India, Kashmir, Nepal, Burma, China and Central Asia - all these cultures influenced the art of the vast area of Tibet.Many paintings and sculptures were made as aids for Buddhist meditation. Bright colors are a dominant design element of Tibetn art.

  8. Chinese Calligraphy Homework! Read for October 18. This essay gives an overview of the history of calligraphy in China and some stunning examples of artworks with just calligraphy and others that combine calligraphy and painting.

  9. Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Homework! October 18. The Manchus ruled China during this time. These eighteen paintings show the vast range of styles used by a wide range of artists - the court painters, the traditionalists and the individuals whose theme was often protest.

  10. Chinese Handscrolls Homework! October 18. This includes eighteen handscrolls in a varity of styles across centuries. To view a handscroll, one "unrolls the scroll from right to left, pausing to admire and study it, shoulder-width section by section, rerolling a section before proceeding to the next one." Viewing a new scroll is a revelation, viewing a familial scroll is like enjoying a favorite story of an old friend.

Additional Resources:

  1. The Life of the Buddha describes the birth, spiritual journey, enlightenment and death of Buddha using . The artworks are from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, China and Japan.

  2. Chinese Buddhist Sculptures includes twelve artworks from the 5th through the twelfth centuries with the essay. There is a brief review of the history of Buddhism followed by a discussion of Buddhism in China. A very interesting Buddhist goddess and her story are included.

  3. Chinese Gardens illustrates the history of garden design in China with eight paintings and one decorative art. Artworks include colorful scrolls and beautiful monochrome ink drawings.

  4. Daoism and Daoist Art Indigenous to China, Daoism arose as a secular school of thought with a strong metaphysical foundation around 500 B.C. Over time, Daoism developed into an organized religion, largely in response to the institutional structure of Buddhism, with an ever-growing canon of texts and pantheon of gods, and a significant number of schools with often distinctly different ideas and approaches. Yin, associated with shade, water, west, and the tiger, and yang, associated with light, fire, east, and the dragon, are the two alternating phases of cosmic energy; their dynamic balance brings cosmic harmony. There are eighteen artworks that illustrate these ideas.

  5. The Chinese Writing System The web site has a great section on the Chinese language and writing system. It's easy to read, has great examples and answers the basic questions most people have about it's origins, evolution and current useage.

  6. Calligraphy Demonstration If you would like more visual information about the process of ink and brush painting, you may want to view this PPT that I use with my Japanese Art History Students.


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