Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. Traditional painting involves essentially the same techniques as calligraphy and is done with a brush dipped in black ink or colored pigments. As with calligraphy, the most popular materials on which paintings are made are paper and silk. The finished work can be mounted on scrolls, such as hanging scrolls or handscrolls. Traditional painting can also be done on album sheets, walls, lacquerware, folding screens, and other media.
Chinese painting developed from the Warring States period (475 - 221 BC) to the Qin and Han dynasties (221 BC - AD 220). Paintings depicting the human figure emerged as early as the Warring States period and attained maturity during the Wei, Jin, the Northern and Southern Dynasties periods (AD 220 - 589).
The Tang and Song dynasties (AD 618 - 1279) saw the zenith of paintings of portraits, landscapes, flowers and birds. The artists of this period used realistic representative styles and techniques, including the meticulous manner with heavy colours, monochrome ink - wash painting, splash - ink technique and the "boneless" painting method.
Literati painting rose to prominence in the Song Dynasty (AD 960 - 1279). In the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1279 - 1368), it became the mainstream of Chinese painting. Literati painting stresses a subjective approach to nature through the use of brush strokes and a poetic mood. Xuan paper became widely used at this time and became the favourite medium to express the beauty of brush and ink drawings. Literati painting developed the former realistic style into a new expressionist "Xieyi" style, pursuing the aesthetic appeal of brushwork.
In the Ming and Qing dynasties (AD 1368 - 1911), two prevailing trends emerged: imitation of the past and creative innovation. The painters developed a new style by emphasizing artistic, abstract expression in combination with poetry, calligraphy and painting. This period was marked by the richness of regional schools and personal styles.
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