Animal-themed Paintings in Ancient China

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  • Author: Li Xiangping;
  • Language: English
  • Format: Papercover
  • Page: 145
  • Publication Date: 12/2008
  • ISBN: 9787508514109
  • Publisher: China Intercontinental Press
  • Sample Pages: PDF Download
The history of animal-themed paintings in China can be traced back to the Neolithic Age around 6,000 or 7,000 years ago when Chinese ancestors used the imagery of fish, bird and frog, which were closely related to their daily life, as decorative patterns on earthenware. In the periods of Shang (c. 1600-1100 BC) and Zhou (c.1100-256 BC), the sacred images of dragon and phoenix were embroidered on silk fabrics, while taotie (a mythical ferocious animal), buffalo and sheep were engraved on bronze wares produced in batches. The stone or brick tombs of the Qin (221-206 BC) and Han (206 BC-AD 220) dynasties were typically decorated with relief sculptures of domestic animals and battle steeds in particular. During the Wei-Jin period (220-420) and the Northern and Southern dynasties (386-589), animals like horse, deer, tiger and so on were also commonly depicted images in the large frescoes in tomb chambers or Buddhist grottoes.
In the Tang Dynasty (618-907) animal paintings became an independent genre of art, with Han Gan good at painting horses and Han Huang noted for his "Picture of Five Oxen" as the most representative painters. During the following dynasties a number of pet portrait artists emerged, including Li Di, Yi Yuanji and Mao Yi of the Song (960-1279) good at painting cats, monkeys and dogs respectively, and Zhao Mengfu of the Yuan (1279-1368) and missionary painter Giuseppe Castiglione of the Qing (1644-191 were expert at portraying horses in various styles.
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