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Pottery, bronzes and sculpture

Porcelain During the Neolithic appeared the most primitive Chinese art objects.
Yangshao culture, which dates back to the 6,000 BC, creates pottery vessels decorated with red, black, brown and white colors and with geometric, human facial and animal designs. Later Longshan culture initiates the employ of pottery wheels.
They used principally black in their fine pottery which is recognized for its highly polished, with elegantly, sharply defined shapes. Other cultures of this time also used Jade, particularly the Liangzhu culture, which made fine decorative object with diverse forms.

The subsequent Bronze Age (1,500 BC) is characterized by Shang and Zhou bronze vessels utilized for preparing and serving solids and liquids, and for rituals and sacrifices (many of them have survived and can be found in museums)

The Shang bronze industry is remembered for its advanced techniques and fine designs. Casting processes were very sophisticated, using moulds, while design was firm and assured and decoration often stylized and linear, with both geometric and animal motifs (fierce tigers, solid elephants), as well as grinning masks of humans and fabulous beasts (principally “taotie”). The Shang created and decorated vessels, ritual objects (including the popular “ding”), weapons and chariot fittings.

The Zhou culture changed progressively the function and appearance of bronzes. They used the bronze for more practical and aesthetic purposes, leaving aside the religious motivations. Its style becomes more diverse and fine with fantastically shapes and extravagantly ornaments. Some were decorated with social scenes (banquets or hunt whilst) while others displayed abstract patterns inlaid with gold, silver, or precious and semiprecious stones.

Bronze At the end of this era appeared painted clay funeral figures and a few carved wooden figures.

Sculpture was highly produced during the Qin dynasty and the Han dynasty.
The famous Terracotta Army is an example of their great development. Tombs were decorated with realistic figurines of acrobats, horsemen, and ladies-in-waiting sited in the graves to serve the dead; even the stone men and fantastical animals (set to protect the Spirit Way leading to the tomb), are all lifelike and reproduce daily activities and material possessions.

Scale models of houses with people looking out of the windows, stone watchdogs, and farmyards with animals had their origin in these periods. Smaller objects like tiny statuettes and jewelry were carved from jade, ivory, and wood.

In the Han, China produced high-quality porcelain which came from Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province. During medieval era in Europe, porcelain was very expensive and in high demand for its beauty. Classical mirrors also date from the Han dynasty.

Buddhist art was introduced from India in the 1st century. By the 4th century it became very active and creative, principally stone carving on a large scale with mallet and chisel. Huge size sculptures can be founded in Dantong and Longmen.

Sculpture Sometimes of huge size, these religious sculptures are smooth, bland and have the static Indian style. The native Chinese style appeared just during the Tang dynasty, with more natural positions, expressions and traditional clothes. Frequently, human and animals sculptures accompany the religious ones.

The statuary production was significantly reduced in later years until the Ming dynasty, distinguished for their big and impressive tomb sculptures. The most famous Ming tombs are in Nanjing and Beijing.

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