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History of Chinese Art

History of Chinese Art

An historical examination of Chinese art reveals a rich and diverse artistic culture.Although the Chinese are responsible for a number of artistic developments and artistic strong points, there are several artistic genres where the Chinese are especially dominant. For the most part, the specialized skills and artistic representations exhibited in these genres have been developed and enhanced over centuries and, although more modern examples of the Chinese artistic work in these genres demonstrate the influence of other cultures, especially Western, the primary purpose, techniques and skills of each remain much the same.

According toan author, The Bronze Age impacted Chinese culture very quickly and although many of the earliest examples were often crude or unattractive, they served a distinct purpose in China's artistic and economic growth and they would become increasingly more ornate and refined throughout the period.

  • The earliest evidence of Chinese bronze work is dated to the Shang dynasty, which was in place from approximately 1500 to 1000 BC.
  • The Shang ruled a region that covered China's northern and central plains and included the delta of the Yellow River.
  • The bronzes that were created during the period were largely confined to the ceremonial vessels used in complex religious rites and were generally reserved for royalty or the very wealthy.
  • These pieces of bronze work included:
    • Ornate goblets
    • Wide-mouthed urns
    • Chalices
    • Cups

The creation and use of bronze work as part of ceremonial rituals is a significant aspect of this artistic genre.According to Thorp, the Chinese culture has always been rooted in offering respect for its ancestors and this practice has been determined to have been originated in the Shang dynasty. The bronzes created during the following Chou dynasty were even more prolific and started an artistic renaissance in metal work as the Chou period ushered in the use of inlaid jade and turquoise for ornamentation.It is during this period also that the most important bronze pieces after vessels became highly developed including weaponry and bells.

However Chinese bronze work demonstrated it highest level of technical development during the Yang period and while the Shang dynasty still ruled.The technique of bronze casting has remained very much the same throughout all of Chinese history. Bronze casting was accomplished through the use of founder's sand, plaster or wax molds.The casting of bronze weaponry was relatively simple and required the use of two-piece molds however if ornamentation was a requirement, the molding procession became more difficult or required the addition of metal decals or filigrees after the initial casting.

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