Art History:   Grade 6 Lesson 4

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Artists Timeline     Periods in Art History 

  SENEGAL TO HONOLULU   Art in China and Korea 

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Timeline of Chinese History

Summary of Korean History



  1. STRIDING INFANTRYMAN, Qin Dynasty 221-210 B.C., The Great Bronze Age of China, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Exhibit Poster.
    One of the most spectacular archaeological finds, since the discovery in 1922 of Tutankhamen's tomb, was made in 1974 when Chinese workmen, drilling a well found a tunnel strewn with pottery figures of soldiers and horses. Excavations soon revealed the existence of a buried army consisting of more than six thousand terra-cotta figures arrayed in battle formation. All are approximately life size, all were created more than 2,000 years ago to guard the tomb of china's great unifier and first emperor - Ch'in Shih Huangdi, who reigned from 221-210 B.C. The emperor apparently wanted a proper military escort for his journey to the after-world. (In the Shang dynasty, immediately preceding, the custom was to bury live soldiers with horses and chariots in the emperor's tomb.) [Picture of Qin Stone Soldiers]
    No two figures look alike because each is a portrait of a real person. They were modeled after the emperor's own warriors, servants and footmen. Their sculpted hair is parted in the middle and pulled back in different types of knots. All of them once carried real swords, spears and crossbows. All were buried in a standing position. The footmen have no armor, but wore high-necked garments that fasten across the chest and reach the knees over baggy knickers. Only a hint of the original color painted on the pottery clothing remains. Their ankle boots are also laced and tied in bows. They look as alive today as they did when they were first created; some fierce, others proud and confident. A few even seem to be on the verge of smiling.

    Most significant during this time was the architectural feat of combining a number of existing protective walls in Northern China into the Great Wall, a massive fortification stretching some 1500 miles. It is 19 1/2 feet wide and 23 feet high. It was designed to keep out the nomads of Mongolia and Manchuria.

    bullet Excavations of the tomb of the First Emperor


  2. SAKAMUNI BUDDHA, T'ang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), China, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Exhibit Poster.
    The expansion which took place under the Han dynasty brought the Buddhist regions of central Asia into the Chinese Empire, and when the religion took root in China itself, it gave sculptors and metalworkers new subjects to portray. Buddhist shrines and temples dotted the country and artists honored Buddha both in miniatures and in colossal statues.

    The powerful and aggressive Tang built a huge trade empire which penetrated deep into Central Asia. Buddhism thrived along with the empire, and Buddhist pilgrims traveled freely to and from Central Asia and India. The building of cave temples continued on a grand scale and some of the world's finest Buddhist art was created under the Tang.

    bulletCulture & Religion in the Tang dynasty


  3. EWER & BASIN, Koryō period (918-1392 AD) Korea, Silver parcel gilt 14 15/16" high, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA  Reproduction photograph.
    The scalloped body, the spout and handle of the ewer all have shapes inspired by bamboo forms. The cover consists of three conventionalized lotuses, surmounted by a phoenix, a legendary bird seen only when land is at peace. It stands for joy and warmth, rules over south and influences summer. The ewer fits into a basin of similarly scalloped shape; both vessels are engraved with a decoration of floral sprays. Their shapes are very similar to those of ceramic types from Korea as well as Northern Sung China.



  4. COVERED VASE, Yuan period (1279-1368), China, Porcelain decorated in underglaze blue, Clara Bertram Kimball Collection, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA  Reproduction photograph.
    Although the Mongol or Yuan dynasty overpowered the Sung, the mainstream of Chinese culture was so strong that the reign of the Khans was marked by support of the established culture rather than by any attempt to impose Mongol values. It was during this era that Marco Polo visited "Cathay" and returned to Venice to write glowing reports of Chinese urban life. Perfecting the technology of porcelain, potters produced high-fired pure white ware, which was elegantly shaped and decorated. Bold decorative floral motifs had developed under the Sung, and now potters used imported Persian cobalt to create similar designs in blue. Known as "blue and white", the objects were made for the Imperial court.


  5. PUPPY CARRYING A PHEASANT FEATHER, Li Dynasty (17th century) Korea, by Yi Am (1499-after 1545), Watercolour on silk 12 1/8 x 17 1/8", Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA Reproduction photograph.
    It was in painting, pottery and handicrafts that the Koreans found expression. Korean paintings now in existence with a few exceptions date from the Yi period (1392-1910) and follow the tradition of the Chinese Ming paintings, from which they are not easily distinguished. A native Korean style is evident in some attractive studies of domestic animals, especially cats, kittens and puppies, which are painted with great verve and fidelity and also in paintings of birds, flowers and insects. Color is used as tints, applied thinly and flat in light washes or filling outlined forms. the painter's skill with ink is the result of the brushwork discipline of writing.

         To grasp the full meaning of Chinese painting, we must know something about the philosophy of the Chinese painter which is, on the whole, quite different from that of the European painter,. Chinese painters had an immense love of nature. they felt very close to it and identified with its many and varied forms. Buddhism urged the painter to observe and to meditate, long and thoughtfully; to seek the "essence" of a cloud, mountain, stream, tree, animal etc. The painter trained his eye and his mind to record only the eternal qualities, such as massiveness, calmness, delicacy or vitality. Only the "feeling" of his subject was important. Shadowless painting is characteristic of all Chinese painting. The use of indelible ink or water color on silk or paper is common.


  6. EXAMPLES OF CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY, Seven sheets, by Tang, Shue-Low.
    Left - earlier pictograph, center - evolved character, Right - meaning.

    In China, the vast and mysterious country of the Far East, the calligrapher is considered as important an artist as the painter. Chinese writing, based on what are called ideographs, is composed of highly abstract and beautifully designed symbols which can be placed in endless combinations. Not only do the various combinations of their extensive alphabet give infinite variety to the idea expressed, but also the way the ink-laden brush of the writer touches the paper or silk is significant. For example, the Chinese symbol for "man" may be written so that uit shows by the quality of the brush strokes whether the writer is referring to a strong man, a weak man, a scholar or a lazy man. the Chinese begin at the right and read down each column. For many years the Chinese used ink made from soot and glue.


  7. CHINA AS SEEN BY PHOTOS AND TRAVELERS, Steiglitz Center, Philadelphia Museum of art, PA  Poster.




  9. PORTRAIT OF THE IMPERIAL BODYGUARD, 1760, Quing Dynasty,  unknown artist, Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk, 74 1/4 " x 37 7/16" Metropolitan Museum, Reproduction photograph.

    From a set of 100 portraits of officials and warriors commissioned by the Manchu emporers.

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