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Flashcards in Chinese Questions Deck (37)
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Describe the characteristics of Chinese architecture.

While many architectural structures in China no longer remain, few examples such as the Nanchan Temple show distinct characteristics of chinese architecture. The most typical architectural heme is the use of a bay system in its construction. Also, the curved roof, which became increasingly exaggerated throughout chinese history, is the most well known chinese architectural element. Pagodas also became popular in china and were based of the design of the Indian Buddhist stupa.


What is the taotie on the Fang Ding from the tomb of Lady Hao?

There is no taotie on the fang ding. There is what appears to be a representation of a deer head on either side, with images of deer on the legs. Also adorning the sides are birds, dragons, and other creatures.


Explain how the clay soldiers that guarded Qin Shihuangdi’s tomb were both mass-produced and individualized.

The clay soldiers were built under the highly oppressive rule of Shihuangdi, who had killed religious scholars, burned their books and banned all philosophies other than legalism. Therefore, he ordered the statues be built and be very detailed and individualized, by using threats issued to the artists.


Describe the mausoleum of Qin Shihuangdi.

The mausoleum is huge, housing what is expected to be around 8,000 terra cotta soldiers and accompanying horses, each individualized and very detailed. The central tomb has not been opened but it is expected to depict a scene from nature to show the world as the Qin did.


What changes occurred in depictions of Buddha as his religion spread east, as seen in the colossal Buddha at Yungang Datong?

The Buddha at Yuangang Datong is in a rock-cut cave along the silk road. The 45-foot statue has elongated ears, a protuberance on the head, and monk’s robes that are traditional aspects of the Buddha. The Buddha is more remote and austere, less human than the sensuous expressions of earlier Indian Buddhist traditions.


What was the new system of thought that developed during the Song dynasty?

The new system of thought that developed during the Song dynasty was Neo-Confucianism. Neo-Confucianism was an attempt to bring Confucianism back to dominance in China, so philosophers took aspects of Daoist and Buddhist ideas and combined them with Confucianism and doing so, synthesized the three thought systems into one. Neo-Confucianism teaches that there are two interacting forces in the universe, li (idea) and qi (matter), and that the task of humans is to rid our qi of impurities through education and self-cultivation so that our li can realize its connection to the eternal first principle that all li comes from (the Great Ultimate).


What effect did Neo-Confucianism have on Chinese painting?

Neo-Confucian ideas found expression in art, especially in landscape. Northern Song artists studied nature closely, to render natural elements in detail, and thereby show a better understanding of the principles behind them. Landscapes sought to capture li in all its aspects- mountains, rivers, rocks, trees- so the landscapes were not of a specific area but of the essence of the environment. Paintings could be observed and immersive, assisting the viewer in attaining enlightenment through nature.


How is Chinese landscape painting fundamentally different from Western landscape painting?

Chinese landscape painting is different from Western landscape painting because instead of having a specific point (or points) that draws the eye, as in one or two point perspective used in Western landscape painting, Chinese landscape painting does not focus on a specific point and avoids perspective entirely. While Western painters tried to maintain exactly what one would see if they were to visit the place that was painted, the Chinese were trying to avoid the limits of what one would naturally see and instead show a totality beyond that. A Western painter would show what was seen from a specific, fixed viewpoint, a Chinese painter would show what was seen from an all-seeing and mobile viewpoint.


Ma Yuan, Bare Willows and Distant Mountains

late 12th century, album leaf, ink on silk
The vantage point is constantly changing in the hand scroll. All the way to the right there is a thatched hut, which leads to a path with a broad misty view with mountain peaks. There is a small foot bridge leading to a valley. The painting ends with an open vista. The way hand scrolls were viewed were portions at a time, so the way it works makes it seem like the canoes suddenly appear and drift towards the viewer.


Dong QiChang, Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains,

1617, ink on paper, Ming dynasty
On a hanging scroll. The aim of traditional Chinese painting is to capture not only the external appearances but primarily to capture the essence or life force of what it represented.
Chinese painters regularly avoided color and reduced their paintings to shades of black and white.


Shitao, Man in a House Beneath a Cliff,

ink and color on paper, late 17th century, Qing Dynasty
On an album leaf. Shitao experimented with extreme effects of massed ink and individualized brushwork patterns. He featured a hut surrounded with vibrant, free-floating colored dots and sinuous contour lines. As typically done in traditional literati,he did not depict the landscape's appearance as much as he animated it. He molded the forces running through it. Shitao used individualization and personal style.


What is the significance of the dragon as a symbol in Chinese art?

The dragon has been an important part of Chinese culture as they were believed to bring forth radiate power and bestow greatness, bravery, and intelligence. Also, many emperors and people of higher class stated that they were descendants of dragons and said that it was because of this that they were people of great power. Due to this respect and compassion towards dragons in Chinese culture, they are often depicted in sculptures and paintings.


Describe Bowl

-Yangshao culture 5000-4000 BCE
-beginnings of writing around edges
-fish and humanlike faces frame a square in the middle
-may be asking ancestors for fish



A mask motif, has two faces


Describe Cong

-Liangzhu culture, before 3000 BCE
-possibly used to communicate with spirit world
-a cylinder with a hole in the middle, and a square around it (circle=heave, square=earth, the hole connects them like axis mundi)
-has taoties on it


Describe Fang Ding

-Shang Dynasty, 12th century BCE
-square vessel with 4 legs
-deer on legs and in center, other creatures are birds and dragons
-piece mold casting


Describe Set of Sixty-Five Bells

-Zhou Dynasty, 433 BCE
-bronze bells; bronze and timber frame
-has taoties
-found in a tomb with other instruments
-lost wax casting (more refined than piece mold)
-each bell makes two notes


Describe Soldiers

-Qin Dynasty, 210 BCE
-were once painted
-made for Qin Shihuangdi
-many have not been found


Describe Painted Banner

-Han Dynasty, 160 BCE
-colors on silk
-T shape: wider top section is heaven, narrow section is earth above the bi (the circle in the middle) and underworld below
-heaven: man with a serpent tail (the Great Ancestor) center, toad in crescent moon left, crow in the sun right, dragons all around, gate guarded by two seated figures separates heaven and earth
-earth: dragons loop through bi, above bi is a platform where two kneeling figures offer gifts to dead lady and her attendants
-underworld: silk draperies and a stone chime hang off the bi making a canopy for the platform in the underworld, ritual bronze vessels with food and wine sit on the platform, held up by a squat muscular man standing on two fish that form another bi (strange creatures are inhabitants of underworld)


Describe Incense Burner

-Han Dynasty, 113 BCE
-bronze with gold inlay
-shaped like a cup with mountains and islands on top
-birds, animals, and immortal people in the mountains
-waves of the sea inlaid on the bottom and stem of the cup shape
-shows harmony with nature (Daoist idea)


Describe Rubbing of a Stone Relief in the Wu Family Shrine (Wuliangci)

-Han Dynasty, 151 CE
-two story building, women on upper floor men on lower (procession is on lowest register under the building)
-central figures on each floor receiving guests and gifts
-maybe shows homage to first Han emperor (largest figure)
-birds and small figures on roof may be mythical creatures/immortals, at left Yi (the archer) shoots a sun crow (he shot all but 1 of the 10 sun crows so earth wouldn't dry up but still be nice and toasty)
-focus is on human realm, shows importance of emperor as holder of mandate of heaven (Confucian ideas)


Describe Tomb Model of a House

-Eastern Han Dynasty, 1st-mid 2nd century CE
-painted earthenware
-top is watchtower, middle sections are for family, lowest section is a barn
-most of the painting is decoration, some is architectural features that would be on a real house, some is just nature (there are trees with crows around the door to the barn)
-a real house would be built around a central courtyard
-provided for dead to use in afterlife


Describe Admonitions of the Imperial Insctructress to Court Ladies (detail)

-Gu Kaizhi, Six Dynasties period, 4th century CE
-ink and colors on silk, handscroll
-an escaped circus bear runs at emperor, his wife (Lady Feng) calmly protects him while other servants run away and male attendants try to fight it off with spears
-entire scroll shows 7 Confucian stories of wifely virtues
-figures outlined in ink, few areas of color
-well depicted faces, especially men
-movement and emotion shown with lines: bands on Lady Feng's dress suggest rushing forward, upturned strings on emperor suggest fear
-no setting, figure placement creates sense of depth
-red stamps are the seals of people who owned the scroll at various points in time


Describe Wang Xizhi Portion of a Letter from the Feng Ju Album

-Six Dynasties period, mid 4th century CE
-Ink on paper
-Feng Ju is a style of calligraphy-"walking" or semi cursive style: not too formal but not to free, done in easygoing and relaxed manner; characters are a bit simplified because brushstrokes run together
-Wang Xizhi (307-365 CE) developed the style


Describe Seated Buddha, Cave 20, Yungang

-Northern Wei Dynasty, 460 CE
-more rigid than Indian Buddhas but has traditional attributes (long earlobes, urna, ushnisha, monk robe)
-masklike face, full torso, massive shoulders, stylized drapery are Central Asian influence
-writing is on cave walls, front part of cave is crumbled away leaving Buddha exposed
-placed along Silk Road


Describe Altar to Amitabha Buddha

-Sui Dynasty, 593 CE
-Amitabha in his paradise sitting on lotus throne under canopy of trees with jeweled leaf clusters
-7 nymphs on topmost clusters, ropes of pearls hang from trunks
-fire halo behind Amitabha's head
-bodhisattva Guanyin holds pomegranate on left, another bodhisattva prays on right
-four disciples of Buddha behind
-incense burner on lower level, flanked by seated lions and smaller bodhisattvas
-combines Indian sensuality, Central Asian schematic abstraction, and Chinese emphasis on linear grace and rhythm


Describe The Western Paradise of Amitabha Buddha

-Tang Dynasty, 750 CE
-detail of wall painting in a cave along the Silk Road
-Amitabha Buddha in center surrounded by 4 bodhisattvas
-2 more groups of bodhisattvas at right and left
-musicians and dancers in foreground
-towers and great halls in background
-Western paradise (where you go when you're dead) imagined in terms of Tang palaces


Describe Nanchan Temple, Wutaishan

-Tang Dynasty, 782 CE
-curved roof
-brackets hold roof up
-3 bays (modules)


Describe Great Wild Goose Pagoda at Ci'en Temple, Chang'an

-Tang Dynasty, 645 CE (rebuilt mid 8th century CE)
-masonry but imitates wood architecture
-has reliefs of bays and bracket systems (to imitate wood architecture)
-like stupa and watchtower had a baby: has axis mundi, has relics; also really tall/multistories and similar style to watchtower


Describe Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk

-copy of Tang Dynasty painting by Zhang Xuan
-this is Northern Song Dynasty, early 12th century CE, attributed to Emperor Huizong
-ink and colors on silk
-court women weaving and ironing silk
-inscription says its a copy
-nobody knows how faithful the copy is, but the style is pretty similar to Tang so...


Describe Camel Carrying a Group of Musicians

-Tang Dynasty, mid 8th century CE
-earthenware with 3 color glaze
-3 bearded musicians are Central Asian, 2 clean shaven are Han Chinese (not all are facing us)
-2 humped camel and lute also Central Asian
-very natural and alive looking, more relaxed
-shows Tang fascination with "exotic" cultures of Central Asia


Describe Seated Guanyin Bodhisattva

-Liao Dynasty, 10-12th century CE
-wood with paint and gold
-dressed as young prince (royal clothes/jewels); shows worldly but virtuous life of bodhisattva
-Guanyin is Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion, this is Water and Moon Guanyin (there are other guises)
-sits on rocks by the sea in royal ease position
-right arm on raised right knee and left arm/foot extended down, foot touching lotus blossom
-carved in 11th or 12th century, painting and gilding 16th century


Describe Travelers Among Fountains and Streams

-Fan Kuan, Northen Song Dynasty, early 11th century CE
-ink and colors on silk, hanging scroll
-extreme foreground: lots of rocks
-middle ground: travelers coming from right (the tiny streak in the path), shows tininess of humans/vastness of nature, rocks behind travelers separated by waterfall with a bridge, temple in hills on right
-background: GIANT MOUNTAINS veiled by mist take up more than half the space, mountains solidify as you look up, plants/bushes on top, waterfall on the right enhances powerful upwardness of mountains
-painting conveys feeling of climbing a tall mountain
-very precise detail and proper scale, logical spatial recession
-obviously Daoist, but sort of reflects Buddhism (mountain could be Buddha flanked by bodhisattvas) and Confucianism (mountain could be emperor and ministers) so its really Neo-Confucian


Describe section of Fishing in a Mountain Stream

-Xu Daoning, Northern Song Dynasty, mid 11th century CE
-ink on silk, handscroll
-start at thatched hut, right foreground, path leads to open view of distant mists and mountain peaks
-cross a small footbridge, central mountains in foreground, path goes back to the bank, from small footbridge is another view of the mountains
-far side of bridge looks into deep valley, eyes are drawn into distance by the stream, there is a small pavilion halfway up the mountain on the right
-fishermen in boats in front of the left side of valley, the smaller group of mountains echoes the first
-cross another bridge, meet some travelers coming the opposite direction, see more mountains in the distance
-more sense of communion with nature


Describe section of Spring Festival on the River

-Zhang Zeduan, Northern Song Dynasty, early 12th century CE
-ink and colors on silk, handscroll
-festival day in Song capital, very crowded, this scene is at Rainbow Bridge (in center)
-boat at right probably has goods from S. China, sailors preparing to pass under bridge, people on shore shout advice at them, crowd watches on bridge
-stalls on bridge sell food and other stuff, wine shops and restaurants on shore
-everyone moving, some people carrying things others enjoying themselves
-each figure animated and full of purpose, very detailed buildings and boats


Describe Twelve Views from a Thatched Hut

-Xia Gui, Southern Song Dynasty, early 13th century CE
-ink on silk, handscroll
-only last 4 views survive
-landscape covered in mist, few details
-two bent people carrying stuff on a path on the hill at left, boat at shore in background
-group of trees on smaller hill in middle
-big empty space is lake, fishermen on it near misty shore with mountains veiled in more mist alllll the way at the right
-simplified forms, stark contrast of light and dark, asymmetrical composition, lots of blank space suggest a fleeting world that can only be captured in glimpses, intangible view is more real than tangible
-deep feeling for what lies beyond


Describe Guan Ware Vase

-Southern Song Dynasty, 13th century CE
-gray stoneware with cracked grayish blue glaze
-bulbous at bottom, very narrow long neck that opens slightly at mouth
-crackle glaze used in most refined Song wares (Guan ware is mainly for imperial use)
-irregular/spontaneous cracks play with perfect/regular form