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What is Chinese Paintings ?

Chinese painting came a long way during the 300-year period that saw the rise and fall of the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), the Jin Dynasty (265-420) and the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-581). Although there was the chaos of wars and many dynastic changes during this period, active intellectual life of different schools
provided a great impetus to artistic development. Well known grotto murals, tomb paintings, stone carvings, brick carvings and lacquer paintings were produced during that period, and a number of virtuosos emerged in Chinese calligraphy and painting. Certain painting theories, such as the Graphic Theory and the Six Rule Theory that form
the theoretical basis for present-day Chinese painting, were also put forward during this time.

The painting was executed about 2,300 years ago on a piece of white silk used as a banner in traditional Chinese funerals. Although it is blotched and indistinct now, the outlines are still eligible. It is the profile of a woman dressed in a garment with full sleeves and a long skirt. She has her palms together, as if praying. On top
of her head is a flying phoenix with its tail curving upward. On her right side is a twisting dragon rising to the sky.

One foot of the dragon has been stripped off. Some people have suggested the woman in the picture was a portrayal of the one buried in the tomb, and the phoenix and dragon are leading her up to heaven. Others say
that the woman is a witch praying for the dead in the tomb, with the phoenix and dragon as her guides. Some experts consider the fighting between the phoenix and dragon a struggle between good and evil, and the woman
is praying for good to conquer evil. Clearly, the real meaning of the painting has not yet been deciphered.

The painting is done with smooth and strong strokes. Some parts are filled with ink washes, some painted with colors. The forms of the woman, phoenix and the dragon are all of decorative beauty. Although there is no background in the picture, its rich and moving content makes it a complete painting.

 



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