An Introduction to Primitive Art of China
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An Introduction to Primitive Art of China

Ancient Chinese civilization had produced art that can be appreciated even today. The art forms of 3500 years laid great stress on symmetry and decoration and included pottery and jade works. They also had dance forms that were influenced by superstition. Excavation works after 1950 has led to the discovery of many items of primitive art of China

China is a very old civilization. It traces a rich lineage of art from olden times. Art from this ancient period is referred to as primitive art. Primitive art of China was dominated by symbolism.  The Chinese carried symbolic art to perfection. The art was rich and profound and laid stress on decoration. It also had a distinct philosophical and artistic spirit. Another aspect of Chinese art is symmetry. In Chinese art this means that all parts of a thing must correspond exactly to each other.

Ancient Chinese art is traced to pottery during the Shang dynasty which ruled from 1600BC. This is the period that is recognized as the time when the first oriental civilization appeared. The Shang and later the Yin dynasty ruled up to 1050 BC.  This period is generally considered as an ancient period in Chinese history. One of the hallmarks of ancient Chinese art is colored pottery. The provinces of Gansu and Qinghai have contributed more colored pottery wares than any other place.

China made remarkable progress in porcelain manufacturing during the Song dynasty (960-1279). Sites of ancient kilns have been found in 170 counties or cities throughout the country. In the Song dynasty there were five kinds of famous porcelain wares manufactured. They were

a)   Ding made in Quyanf county. These wares were glazed vessels of regular shape. The patterns on them included flowers, animals and birds, swimming fish and children 

b)   Ru ware made in Baofeng county. These wares are thick, green colored  and bright

c)   Jun wares made in Yuxian county in Henan province.  Such pottery is bright with a yellowish glow.  They also have motifs like floating clouds and running streams.

d)   Ge wares are from Longquan County, Zhejiang.  Ge ware feature crackles of varying sizes on the vessel's surface. These crackles were intentional and later became an art form.

e)    Guan ware from Kaifeng and Hangzhou. The Guan ware used china clay mixed with iron. This gave the product a thick glaze and ended with a finish that resembled fine greenish-white jade.

A large number of porcelain kilns were established during the Song dynasty, of which the most representative were the kilns for making Cizhou ware in north China

Another aspect of Chinese primitive art is the folk dances. The early Chinese folk dances were essentially ritual enactments of superstitious beliefs.  Thus dances were performed in the hope of a good harvest or in the hope of a good hunt.

Another Shang Art form is Jade Carvings. This is a product peculiar to China. Chinese created circular discs which had carved images of curling dragons, fish, tigers, birds, bovine creatures, and a variety of geometric patterns. The jade carvings of the Shang Dynasty are without parallel in terms of artistry & quality.

Chinese art, like Chinese literature is among the most ancient in the world. One of the oldest and most basic forms of Chinese art is calligraphy, the painting of the Chinese characters with a brush.  Chinese calligraphy laid stress on simplicity and economy. In this the artist seeks to express harmony with the natural surroundings

 Lastly during the Shang Dynasty burials were decorated with fancy bronze ware, stoneware, bone hairpins, weapons, and carved jade items. The over riding belief was that these items would be used in the next life. Numerous treasures of the Shang Dynasty have been excavated since 1950. 

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Comments (3)
Ranked #1 in Art & Art History

Superb discussion of art history.

Thank you Micheal for your comment

Every country has its own direction in art. The dissertation editing can be useful in comparison some of them.