Ancient Chinese Art


Ancient China covered a vast and ever-changing geopolitical landscape, and the art it produced over three millennia is, unsurprisingly, just as varied. Still, despite continuous indigenous technical developments, changes in materials and tastes, and the influence of foreign ideas, there are certain qualities inherent in Chinese art which make it possible to describe in general terms and recognise no matter where or when it was produced and for what purpose. These essential qualities include a love of nature, a belief in the moral and educative capacity of art, an admiration of simplicity, an appreciation of accomplished brushwork, an interest in viewing the subject from various perspectives, and a loyalty to much-used motifs and designs from lotus leaves to dragons. Chinese art would influence tremendously that of its neighbours in East Asia, and the worldwide appreciation of its accomplishments, especially in ceramics, painting, and jade work continue to this day.

More about: Ancient Chinese Art


  • 4500 BCE - 3000 BCE
    The Hongshan culture in China produces a jade figurine which is the oldest known depiction of a dragon.
  • c. 2700 BCE
    The earliest known examples of woven silk from Qianshanyang, China.
  • 1600 BCE - 1046 BCE
    Writing develops in China during the Shang Dynasty.
  • c. 1250 BCE - 1046 BCE
    Oracle Bones in use in China during the Shang Dynasty.
  • 206 BCE
    The Emperor Shi Huangti is buried with a terracotta army of more than 8,000 soldiers in a palace tomb.
  • 105 CE
    Invention of fine paper-making process by Cai Lun.
  • c. 303 CE - c. 365 CE
    Life of Wang Xizhi, China's most famous calligrapher.
  • c. 600 CE - 673 CE
    Life of celebrated Chinese court painter Yan Liben.
  • 626 CE - 649 CE
    Woodblock printing process develops under reign of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty.
  • 675 CE
    The Buddhist Fengxiansi Cave is carved at Longmen Grottoes, China.
  • 699 CE - 759 CE
    Life of Wang Wei, the celebrated Chinese landscape painter.
  • c. 990 CE - 1030 CE
    Life of Chinese painter Fan Kuan.