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Unit 3

3.2 Arts and Cultural Perspectives

3 min readdecember 21, 2020

emilyguo

Emily Guo


AP Chinese  🇨🇳

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👁️ Visual Arts 🖼️

Chinese visual art includes a wide variety such as painting, sculpting, ceramics, decorative arts, pottery, jade, bronze casting, and more!

🎨 Art and History 📖

China's vast history and culture can be deeply expressed through its arts 🎨🎭.

👩‍🎨 Paintings 🖼️

The style of paintings in China 🇨🇳 can reflect the dynasty in which it was created and tell stories 📚 from history.
From the Han Dynasty, paintings were used to decorate the halls of buildings including tombs. During the Six Dynasties (Three Kingdoms, Jin Dynasty, and the Southern and Northern Dynasties), painting was mostly done through calligraphy ✒️. Then, during the Tang Dynasty, paintings of court life displaying people began to pop up. Starting around this time, ink paintings began to be accepted as fully finished paintings.
Landscape paintings 🖼️ also gained traction during this time period, especially those where slight color was added. In the following eras, from the Yuan Dynasty with the Mongols taking over China, with the disappearance of many artists choosing to not follow the Mongols, which is reflected in the artworks from that time to modern China, where many artists are influenced by aspects of Western culture in their paintings 🖼️.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-CSM2i7YzChWE.jpg?alt=media&token=9d70559d-8694-46dc-b00e-f6431f6992c7

Image from Wikimedia Commons

This painting 🖼️ displayed above is called "Along the River During the Qingming Festival" or 清明上河图. It displays the normal everyday lives of citizens during the Song dynasty. It is one of the most famous Chinese paintings to date. As you can see, painting was used to illustrate the daily life of historical Chinese 🇨🇳 citizens as well as stories in history.

Architecture 👩‍💼

Through the millennia ⏳, Chinese architecture has developed into its own form. In fact, Chinese architecture (中国建筑)zhōngguó jiànzhú)) has had many influences on other countries in South Asia.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2Fapchinese3-BxsNsNdc6EHE.png?alt=media&token=e098e507-a3b5-42ea-9b58-0f818bf28717

Image from PxHere

建筑 (jiànzhú) 🏠

The basis of Chinese architecture relies much on a multitude of ideas within **风水 (fēngshuǐ)**🌬️🌊. When taking a look at the width of a building in China, you can learn a lot about the reason it was built. In comparison to the West, where height ↕️ is stressed, Chinese architecture stresses width. Tall buildings were considered unattractive.
Shown in the image below is the Forbidden City, known as 北京故宫 (běijīng gùgōng) or 紫禁城 (zǐjìnchéng). As you can see, it takes up a lot more horizontal space than vertical. Inside the Forbidden City 🏙️, the ceilings are also lower in comparison.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2Fapchinese3-CGUrmukDiHKZ.png?alt=media&token=6a77f4d0-db8b-461d-a19e-69ccef55e9a6

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Aside from a horizontal emphasis, there are many other important aspects to Chinese architecture. One of them is 👁️ symmetry. To be specific, bilateral symmetry! Throughout Chinese architecture, even in simpler buildings, symmetry is present. However, gardens🌲 usually are not symmetrical. This is to stimulate a natural flow since the garden is treated like a co-existence for humans and nature. A very distinct part is how water and hill stones are necessary for the gardens. It's a form of Yin Yang ☯️ (a BIG part of Chinese culture)!
Whenever designing new architecture, research on the neighboring territory was ESSENTIAL for harmony
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2Fapchinese3-6PYJew9b5gK5.png?alt=media&token=45261b4f-e3b9-43e4-9bcf-22d505c02afe

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Carvings and color paintings decorate Chinese architecture from the past. The carvings display not only stories on the walls, but also wildlife. Colored paintings are made with the brightest colors and the specific colors used can show the ranking of the home 🏡 Much of the paint used had copper within it so that it could last longer.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2Fapchinese3-nn9TG0HVsdN2.png?alt=media&token=d37e625d-5b7f-4be2-9417-cb50d73986d3

Image from Pikist

Much of China's history lies waiting through its ancient bamboo books, buildings 🏛️ and architecture, visual arts, and many more. Some describe the simple everyday life that its artist is privy to, while some pack in stories and legends that drastically changed history. The build-up of centuries of culture is also visible through the repeated structures in the artworks 🖼️ regardless of the time.

Strive for Five Vocab! 🔑🔑

  • 清明上河图(qīngmíng shànghé tú)- Along the River During the Qingming Festival
  • 中国建筑(zhōngguó jiànzhú)- Chinese Architecture
  • 彩色画(cǎisè huà)- Colored Painting
  • 雕刻品(diāokè pǐn)- Carving
  • 中国古典园林(zhōngguó gǔdiǎn yuánlín)- Chinese Classical Garden
  • 花园(huāyuán)- Garden
  • 和睦(hémù)- Harmony (between individuals)
  • 和谐(héxié)- Harmony (between elements)
  • 融洽(róngqià)- Harmony (between individuals or elements)
  • 和谐共存(héxié gòngcún)- Harmonious Co-existence
  • 美丽(měilì)- Beautiful
  • 自然(zìrán)- Natural

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