6 Types Of Ancient Chinese Art

Jade statues.

Jade has always been valued in China. (Image: Joseolgon via Wikimedia Commons)

Over the course of thousands of years, China has seen the development of numerous art forms. Some of these ancient Chinese art forms have been lost in time, becoming irrelevant in the modern era, while some continue to attract people’s attention.

6 types of ancient Chinese art that you should be acquainted with

1. Jade objects

Jade objects were coveted in ancient China. It was first mined in China at around 6,000 BCE. The Chinese viewed jade as a symbol of nobility, immortality, and perfection. Jade was considered to be the essence of heaven and earth. Many jade ornaments had a hole in the center, which was done to honor the gods in heaven. In addition to ornaments, jade was also used for sculptures and everyday objects like cups, bowls, vases, and so on. Even today, the Chinese hold a deep reverence for jade. 

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

2. Shadow puppet shows

Shadow puppet shows were popular as far back as during the time of the Han Dynasty (202 BCE to 220 CE). The puppets were usually made of leather. While a band of musicians would play instruments, a puppeteer would manipulate the puppets and narrate captivating stories. Though this Ancient Chinese art form has kind of lost popularity in modern times due to the availability of movies and video games, shadow puppet shows do attract curiosity from time to time. In some regions of Northern China, such shows remain popular.

3. Cloisonné

The word cloisonné comes from the French word “cloison,” which means “partition.” This was a technique that ancient Chinese used to decorate metal objects, specifically utensils made from bronze or copper. Such decorated objects were popular during the Mongol rule in Yunnan Province. Artisans used to glue copper wires on objects and then draw over it. Sadly, most of the earliest cloisonné was fragile by nature due to which only a few of them exist today.

4. Calligraphy

The ancient Chinese art of calligraphy was valued more than painting and sculpting.
The ancient Chinese art of calligraphy was valued more than painting and sculpting. (Image: via Pixabay)

Ancient Chinese people viewed the ancient Chinese art of calligraphy as an art form. Those who demonstrated excellent control over the use of brush and ink were held in high regard. It was during the Han period that calligraphy became established as an art form. In fact, an educated person was expected to have some level of proficiency in calligraphy. Some people held calligraphy to be a superior art form to even sculpting and painting. It was ranked together with poetry as a means to cultivation and self-expression.

5. Landscape paintings

During the Northern Song Dynasty period (960 CE and 1127 CE), painting established itself as a key art form. Chinese painters are known for their focus on landscape paintings. Such paintings were regarded as showcasing the beauty of nature while also providing a glimpse of the “inner landscape” of the painter.

The period of Five Dynasties and Northern Song is usually considered the “great age of Chinese landscapes.” In northern China, artists painted scenes depicting large mountains. In the southern regions, paintings of hills and rivers were popular. Famous artists like Ju Ran and Dong Yuan depicted the beauty of their countryside.

The landscape was the key focus of many Chinese artists.
The ancient Chinese art of landscape painting was the key focus of many Chinese artists. (Image: via Pixabay)

6. Neolithic pottery

The ancient Chinese art of pottery making in China dates back to the Neolithic period around 18,000 BCE. Sometime around 4,000 BCE, colored ceramic art becomes visible. This style of making pottery involved four steps — forming, firing, decoration, and refinement.

The Yanshao people, who lived along the Yellow River between 5000 BCE and 3000 BCE, decorated Neolithic pottery by pressing cords onto them, which left pattern imprints. By the end of the Neolithic period, the Yanshao people began painting human faces and geometric designs on ceramics.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

Young boy wearing a mask.

Coronavirus Update: China Increasingly Isolated as Countries Scramble to Contain Spread

The coronavirus outbreak has killed at least 362 people globally, according to Chinese and World Health Organization ...

Two kung fu practitioners.

Kung Fu and the Meaning Behind the Symbols

The Chinese martial art of kung fu is thousands of years old. Most people only ...

Irish moss in bloom.

The Numerous Benefits of Irish Moss

Irish moss is a type of seaweed that has been in use in Ireland for ...

A Hezhen tribe member.

A Chinese Tribe That Makes Clothing From Fish

You most likely have worn clothes made from cotton and wool. But have you ever ...

Reichstag building in Berlin.

Maastricht Debt Rules: Germany’s Debt Falling Below 60 Percent

In 2019, Germany’s Debt-to-GDP ratio fell below 60 percent for the first time since 2002. ...

Passengers disembarking from airplane.

U.S. Removes Citizens From Wuhan, Isolates Them in Military Base

About 195 American citizens from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, have been evacuated according ...

Chinese wearing masks.

How Is the Coronavirus Spreading Across the Globe?

The first case of a novel strain of coronavirus has been confirmed in the United ...

Passion fruit.

Recipe: How to Prepare Passion Fruit Basil Chutney

Bored with the usual sauce for your grilled chicken and other dishes? Try out this ...

Mushrooms with basil pesto.

Baked Mushrooms with Basil Pesto

Earthy, flavorful mushrooms play an important role in both Western and Chinese cuisines. With thousands ...

Send this to a friend