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Marco Polo and Ancient China : A Study in Early Western Interactions with Oriental Arts

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The paper throws light on the various aspects of the art forms of China. The country has been well known in the International field mainly due to its art. The painting styles, pottery, jade, ceramics and lacquer work to name a few were so popular that people from various places came to purchase them. The arts further developed under various dynasties and this is shown in the essay. Calligraphy was another important style of writing which came into prominence in this era. This art could be done only if one had practised the technique perfectly and is an expert in the field. The two references “Visual Arts” and “Chinese Antiquities: An Introduction to the Art Market” highlight all the above features.


China has had a long history of more than 5000 years in the field of arts. These art forms include jade, lacquer, sculpture calligraphy etc (Clunas, C. 1997). The development of Chinese art began in the Shang and Zhou dynasties. The art symbols were present from the Neolithic age in 2500 B.C (Williams, C. A. 2012). Though the Chinese art has faced changes in technology, modern ideas and the influence from other countries, it has still been able to sustain itself. The art was helpful in promoting the Chinese market to all parts of the world and this is what is shown in the paper. Art was patronised in China according to the various dynasties which ruled at that time and each ruler wanted a different style of art. There was as well trade with neighbouring countries which helped in the growth of Chinese arts. The beginning of the arts originated from the Yellow River in China which dates back to 4000 B.C (Visual Arts Encyclopedia, n.d).

History of The Chinese Arts:

The era of Chinese arts begins from the prehistoric period and comprises of many forms like pottery, sculpture etc. China developed a relationship in trade with Japan and Korea. Calligraphy played a main role of bridging the cultural values as paintings required the artists to be experts in drawing calligraphic lines with the brush. The Shang Dynasty was the period when bronze vessels were manufactured which had inscriptions of the Chinese script. These vessels were made by direct casting as well as by the lost wax process and were used by the kings for religious and other ceremonies which had the inscription of the name of the user. They as well served the purpose for cooking and serving wine. Calligraphy as well was ad vented in this dynasty. In the Zhou dynasty, huge relief sculptures were replaced by smaller ones and jewellery was produced in the shapes of wings, spiral and hook patterns. The Qin and Han dynasties as well contributed to art when the former’s ruler made many figures of terracotta representing the Army. The Han Dynasty sculpted figures which looked realistic and gave us an idea of how the people lived and what they did in that era. Similarly, many other dynasties had various art forms (Visual Arts Encyclopedia, n.d).

Calligraphy and Paintings in China:

The Han dynasty era was when calligraphy emerged as an art form. Lady Wei was known as a famous lady calligrapher at that time, who was said to be the tutor for a great master Wang Xizhi. This art entailed the use of a delicate stroke of a brush which had to be carefully placed in the blank spaces with ink which became famous among the other arts like music, archery, numbers etc. It is a technique used for fine writing. Chinese alphabets are written in a form which shows expression in rice papers with the help of a tapered brush (History of Chinese Calligraphic Art, n.d.). This form of writing came into paintings as well to provide information about that particular painting which became a permanent feature (Cartwright, M,2017). The Chinese paintings were done on many types of materials like walls, coffins and boxes, screens, silk scrolls etc. Wood and bamboo were the two materials used by the first artists but later, silk, paper and walls were as well used. From the 8th century CE, canvas was used and painting brushes were made from the hair of animals which had a narrowing

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