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Artistic Expression in Ancient China

Artistic Expression in Ancient China

Art in the ancient world was initially associated with ceremonial ritual but, in time, began featuring subjects related to everyday life and the common people. The Chinese were among the first civilizations to create a narrative of their culture and mythology using different artforms. Portraits of people, landscapes, and sculpture were among the most popular modes of expression for the Chinese people.


Artistic Expression in Ancient China - History

Ancient China produced many types of beautiful works of art. Different eras and dynasties had their specialties. Chinese philosophy and religion had an impact on artistic styles and subjects.


Mountain Hall by Dong Yuan
Landscape Painting from Five Dynasties Period

The Three Perfections

The three perfections were calligraphy, poetry, and painting. Often they would be combined together in art. These became important starting with the Song Dynasty.

Calligraphy - This is art of handwriting. The Ancient Chinese considered writing an important form of art. Calligraphers would practice for years to learn to write perfectly, but with style. Each of the over 40,000 characters needed to be drawn precisely. In addition, each stroke in a character had to be drawn in a specific order.

Poetry - Poetry was an important form of art as well. Great poets were famous throughout the empire, but all educated people were expected to write poetry. During the Tang Dynasty poetry became so important that writing poetry was part of the examinations to become a civil servant and work for the government.

Painting - Painting was often inspired by poetry and combined with calligraphy. Many paintings were landscapes that featured mountains, homes, birds, trees, and water.

Fine Chinese porcelain was not only an important art, but also became an important export. During the Ming Dynasty blue and white vases became highly prized and were sold to the wealthy throughout Europe and Asia.

The Ancient Chinese mastered the art of making silk from the spun cocoons of silkworms. They kept this technique secret for hundreds of years as silk was desired by other nations and enabled China to become rich. They also dyed silk into intricate and decorative patterns.

The Ancient Chinese often used lacquer in their art. Lacquer is a clear coating made from the sap of sumac trees. It was used to add beauty and shine to many pieces of art. It also helped to protect art from getting damaged, especially from bugs.

The Terracotta Army is a fascinating aspect of Ancient Chinese art. It was created for the burial of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, in order to protect him in the afterlife. It consists of thousands of sculptures that make up an army of soldiers. There were sculptures of over 8,000 soldiers and 520 horses in the terracotta army. These weren't tiny sculptures either. All 8,000 soldiers were life-sized! They had details too, including uniforms, weapons, armor, and each soldier even had his own unique face.


Terracotta Soldier and Horse by Unknown

Artistic Expression in Ancient China - History

Chinese folk art is an important part of the country's extremely rich cultural and art heritage. Chinese folk art has won recognition and praise from experts both at home and abroad for its great variety, sincere rural content, rich flavor of life, distinctive local style, and its artistic approaches of romanticism.

The folk artist is at his best in understanding and depicting life in its wholeness, and apt to show its rhythms and melodies. He relies on his intuition, impressions and memories, as well as his experience and understanding of life to grasp the essence of the phenomena or objects he depicts, thus making the artistic images quite different from their original models. In artistic representation and expression, works of folk art are straightforward, natural, flexible, free from affectedness, vivid and intimate. They reside, in roundabout ways, ideas in particular images, reason in emotion, and feelings in concrete forms. Ingenuity is found in simplicity, exquisiteness in crudeness, and humor in clumsiness. Folk artists also use decorative, figurative, allegoric and symbolic methods with magical deftness. Since ancient times, Chinese folk art has been seeking to understand and present the lofty spirit of the Chinese nation. It has given expression to the indomitable morale and character of the Chinese people shown in their constant efforts to open up new paths for development.

Like a galaxy of brilliant gems, folk art embraces all aspects of daily life and is loved by the masses. The materials that most commonly used are the ordinary natural substances that come readily to hand. Folk artists are familiar with the aesthetic habits of the people, and their feel of life is based on the aesthetic experiences of the masses. In creating art forms, they are guided by their mind, reason and aesthetic rules. Some of their works seem to be crudely made, but they show great ingenuity, originality, simplicity and purity, which implies a profound philosophy of art. Works of folk art afford people not only aesthetic enjoyment and amusement, but also knowledge and education.

Love is the motive force of aesthetic appreciation, and the motive force of creation of the beautiful. Folk artists have been under the edifying influence of folk art since their early childhood, and a seed of beauty was planted in their hearts when they became apprentices to elder folk artists. Their love for the beautiful is eternal.

Crafts, the largest category of folk art, perfectly combines the material and spiritual life of the people because they have both utilitarian and aesthetic value. Folk art is born of heart. It is not something that has become rigidly fixed instead, it steadily develops as it tries to meet people's need for appreciation of the beautiful. As a form of the traditional Chinese art, folk art is an intermixture of the aesthetic psychology of society and the aesthetic psychology of the artists, which externalizes itself through palpable media. It will develop with history, society and people's life.

The middle reaches of Yellow River are the cradle of Chinese culture. The ancestors of the Chinese people have lived and multiplied the earth here since the primitive age. In Chinese history, Shaanxi had for a very long time been the political center of the country and boasted the nation's most developed culture and art. Xi'an was the capital of the Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui, Tang and six other dynasties, covering a period of more than 1,120 years. The famous Silk Road started and ran westward from the city, which has long had economic and cultural contacts with Japan and Korea and, through the Silk Road, with India, Indo-China, Middle Asia, West Asia and some European countries and regions. It was once the cultural center of the East.

Ancient artifacts found in the province include the unsophisticated, beautiful Banpo painted pottery and Tang figurines the majestic and firm bronzeware of Zhou Dynasty the bricks of the Qin Dynasty the tiles of the Han Dynasty the stone tablets bearing engraved images of the Han Dynasty the terra-cotta soldiers and horses of the Qin Dynasty and the stone cavings and murals of the Han and Tang Dynasties. All of them are classic examples of Chinese arts, crystallizing in them the wisdom and skill of the artisans of the past. Xi'an, a city which is reputed to be a large history museum itself, has created a splendid ancient culture, and made a great contribution to the civilization of the world. When we take a close look at the folk art of Shaanxi, we must not overlook or cut it off from its historical origins.

You might be interested in these excellent Chinese folk art items:


History of Chinese Painting

Traditional Chinese painting dates back to the Neolithic Age about 6,000 years ago. The excavated colored pottery with painted human faces, fish, deer and frogs indicates that the Chinese began painting as far back as the Neolithic Age. Over the centuries, the growth of Chinese painting inevitably reflected the change of time and social conditions. From Primitive to Modern times.

In its earliest stage, Chinese prehistoric paintings were closely related to other primitive crafts, such as pottery, bronze ware, carved jade and lacquer. The line patterns on unearthed pottery and bronze ware resemble ripples, fishing nets, teeth or frogs. The animal and human figures, succinct and vivid, are proofs to the innate sensitivity of the ancient artists and nature.

Chinese painting or engravings found on precipitous cliffs in Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou in Southwest China Fujian in East China and Mount Yinshan in Inner Mongolia Altai in China's extreme west and Heihe in the far north, are even more ancient. Strong visual effects characterize the bright red cliff paintings in southern China that depict scenes of sacrificial rites, production activities and daily life. In comparison, hunting, animal grazing, wars and dancing are the main themes of cliff paintings in northern China. Before paper was invented, the art of silk painting had been developing. The earliest silk painting was excavated from the Mawangdui Tomb in central China of the Warring States Period (476-221 BC). Silk painting reached its artistic peak in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD25). Following the introduction of Buddhism to China during the first century from India, and the carvings on grottoes and temple building that ensued, the art of painting religious murals gradually gained prominence.

China plunged into a situation of divided states from the third to the sixth century, where incessant wars and successions of dynasties sharpened the thinking of Chinese artists which, in turn, promoted the development of art. Grotto murals, wall murals in tomb chambers, stone carvings, brick carvings and lacquer paintings flourished in a period deemed very important to the development of traditional Chinese painting The Tang Dynasty (618-907) witnessed the prosperity of figure painting, where the most outstanding painters were Zhang Xuan and Zhou Fang. Their paintings, depicting the life of noble women and court ladies, exerted an eternal influence on the development of shi nu hua (painting of beauties), which comprise an important branch of traditional Chinese painting today.

Beginning in the Five Dynasties (907-960), each dynasty set up an art academy that gathered together the best painters throughout China. Academy members, who were on the government payroll and wore official uniforms, drew portraits of emperors, nobles and aristocrats that depicted their daily lives. The system proved conducive to the development of painting. The succeeding Song Dynasty (960-1127) developed such academies into the Imperial Art Academy.

During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) the "Four Great Painters" -- Huang Gongwang, Ni Zan, Wei Zhen and Wang Meng -- represented the highest level of landscape painting. Their works immensely influenced landscape painting of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).The Ming Dynasty saw the rise of the Wumen Painting School, which emerged in Suzhou on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Keen to carry on the traditions of Chinese painting, the four Wumen masters blazed new trails and developed their own unique styles. When the Manchus came to power in 1644, the then-best painters showed their resentment to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) court in many ways. The "Four Monk Masters" -- Zhu Da, Shi Tao, Kun Can and Hong Ren -- had their heads shaved to demonstrate their determination not to serve the new dynasty, and they soothed their sadness by painting tranquil nature scenes and traditional art. Yangzhou, which faces Suzhou across the Yangtze River, was home to the "Eight Eccentrics" - the eight painters all with strong characters, proud and aloof, who refused to follow orthodoxy. They used freehand brushwork and broadened the horizon of flower-and-bird painting. By the end of the Qing Dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China, Shanghai, which gave birth to the Shanghai Painting School, had become the most prosperous commercial city and a gathering place for numerous painters. Following the spirit of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, the Shanghai School played a vital role in the transition of Chinese traditional painting from a classical art form to a modern one. The May 4th Movement of 1919, or the New Culture Movement, inspired the Chinese to learn from western art and introduce it to China. Many outstanding painters, led by Xu Beihong, emerged, whose paintings recognized a perfect merging of the merits of both Chinese Art and Western Art styles, absorbing western classicism, romanticism and impressionism. Other great painters of this period include Qi Baishi, Huang Binhong and Zhang Daqian. Oil painting, a western art, was introduced to China in the 17th century and gained popularity in the early 20th century. In the 1980s Chinese oil painting boomed.

Then came popular folk painting -- Chinese New Year pictures pinned up on doors, room walls and windows on the Chinese New Year to invite heavenly blessings and ward off disasters and evil spirits - which dates back to the Qing Dynasty and Han Dynasty. Thanks to the invention of block printing, folk painting became popular in the Song Dynasty and reached its zenith of sophistication in the Qing Dynasty. Woodcuts have become increasingly diverse in style, variety, theme and artistic form since the early 1980s.

1. Techniques
According to painting techniques, Chinese painting can be divided into two styles: xieyi style and gongbi style. Xieyi, or freehand, is marked by exaggerated forms and freehand brushwork. Gongbi, or meticulous, is characterized by close attention to detail and fine brushwork. Freehand painting generalizes shapes and displays rich brushwork and ink techniques.

2. Forms
The principal forms of traditional Chinese painting are the hanging scroll, album of paintings, fan surface and long horizontal scroll. Hanging scrolls are both horizontal and vertical, usually mounted and hung on the wall. In an album of paintings the artist paints on a certain size of xuan paper and then binds a number of paintings into an album, which is convenient for storage. Folding fans and round fans made of bamboo strips with painted paper or silk pasted on the frame. The long, horizontal scroll is also called a hand scroll and is usually less than 50 centimeters high but maybe up to 100 meters long.

3. Subjects
Traditional Chinese painting can be classified as figure paintings, landscapes and flower-and-bird paintings. Landscapes represent a major category in traditional Chinese painting, mainly depicting the natural scenery of mountains and rivers. The range of subject matter in figure painting was extended far beyond religious themes during the Song Dynasty (960-1127). Landscape painting had already established itself as an independent form of expression by the fourth century and gradually branched out into the two separate styles: blue-and-green landscapes using bright blue, green and red pigments and ink-and-wash landscapes relied on vivid brushwork and inks. Flower-and-bird painting deviated from decorative art to form its own independent genre around the ninth century. Traditional Chinese painting, poetry, Chinese calligraphy, painting and seal engraving are necessary components that supplement and enrich one another. "Painting in poetry and poetry in painting" has been a criterion for excellent works. Inscriptions and seal impressions help explain the painter's ideas and sentiments and also add beauty to the painting.


Body Art & Body Painting History

Every major society has had at least one body art tradition. There are so many ways to be human, and many different views of beauty. Sometimes, the marks of identity can be disturbing to others, but they have a very deep meaning.

There are so many ways to be human. How we decorate our bodies tells others who we are as individuals. Around the world, many people use their skin as living canvas, representing past experiences, bravery, status, beauty, protection, fertility, magic, transformations and connections with other realms.

Other symbols protect from evil eyes and spirits, bring fertility, heal the body, grant magical powers, or support transformations and their connection with other realms. The line between reality and illusion, god and man, good and evil, the Earth and beyond, life and death, present, past, and future, becomes blurred. Often times, the people involved in a body art expression are not just playing a role they are becoming the role, the night, the day, the spirit, the god, the transformation, which could heal them, or help others, as in the cases of creating sacred pain and sacrificing the own flesh in the name of the community.

These incredible kinds of expression, performance and belonging exist in two parallel worlds, one of old rituals and traditions that distinguish us as human, and the other of body art as a contemporary art form.

“A man without tattoos is invisible to the gods,” says an Iban proverb from Borneo.

Body painting, or sometimes bodypainting, is a form of body art. Body art is art made on, with, or consisting of, the human body:

body painting, tattoos, body art performances, body piercings, scarification, branding, scalpelling, full body tattoo.

Unlike tattoo and other forms of permanent body art, body painting is temporary, painted onto the human skin, and lasts for one day, or at most (in the case of Mehndi, "henna" or temp tattoo, glitter tattoos) a couple of weeks. Body painting that is limited to the face is known as face painting.

Body art is also a sub-category of performance art, in which artists use or abuse their own body to make their particular statements.

My research on the body art history started in 2005. I have collected enormous amount of information, photos, and videos. China, South Korea, India, Brazil, Venezuela, Thailand, Australia were a few of the countries my field research took place. My goal is to visit more places and in the best possible case to live for a few months with tribes still practicing these old traditions, such as those in Papua New Guinea, South America and Australia. I am working on a book, and this is the reason why for now I am not able to share more information or images.

How many unknown traditions are waiting to be discovered, or presented to a bigger audience? The human civilization has been always dreaming to reach the stars, but we are not even aware of all the cultural treasures still hiding on our planet. Many of these magical traditions are disappearing. A few are already extinct. Some are beautiful, some otherworldly, others scary, but they all are inherently human cultural heritage. They are a very important part of our story in terms of art history, gender studies, ritual culture, social development, world view, even understanding of time and space. They need to be kept alive at the very least through preserving documentation.

In western cultures there are very few rites of passages. In the tribal world the initiation is a main part of the social structures.

Bella Volen has separated the visual development of Body Art and Body Painting in 3 parts.

Every major society, past or present, has or had it’s own body art culture.

Rituals are a universal constant in human society. Beginning with the start of human cultural development, rituals have continued to have space in society, even in the modern world.

There is no shortage of research on rituals, and theories regarding their nature.

In all cultures, rituals coincide with large turning points of life in regard to the individual (birth, puberty, marriage, death).

North & South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, Oceania, India, Middle East, China, Japan, Thailand, Bulgaria, Kosovo and more

Body painting with clay and other natural pigments existed in most if not all tribal cultures. Often worn during ceremonies, this ancient form of expression is still used among many indigenous people of the world today. (Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific islands, parts of Africa, India, Japan and more.)

Other ritual-based art forms include tattoos, piercing, nose-ears-mouth plugs, Mehndi, henna, and scarification.

All types of body art hold great meaning in these cultures.

Body art is a crucial part of social, spiritual, and personal expression.

Rite of Passage: (Rites of Passage surround milestone events like puberty, coming of age, marriage and death.)

  • The child becomes adult
  • Weddings
  • Preparation for war or hunt
  • The birth of a child
  • Spiritual rituals
  • Death
  • Body art also shows the position of a person in a certain group.

Your origin, your position, symbol of power, what you have reached and experienced, it can be like an ID card (Maori and Polynesia), it protects from evil forces, it shows bravery and beauty, can be an act of transformation, mourning, connecting with the spirits of animals or the earth, symbol of fertility. In the last 100 years in some countries like Japan it has been also connected with the mafia and crime.

Some rituals are connected with personal preparation: a period of silence, no sexual activities, isolation, some tribes also have to fast.

Part 2- 1960-1980- the birth of a new art form

Big changes are coming in times of crisis.

In the time around 1960, artists are searching of new ways of expression, new forms of painting, provoking and shocking. They need attention and have a massage!

  • The work of the Actionists developed concurrently with—but largely independently from—other avant garde movements of the era who shared an interest in rejecting object-based or otherwise commodifiable art practices.
  • In this times body art performances and body painting are in one hand inspired by Fluxus and Happenig moments, where it is all about the moment of creating, sexual freedom and not the final result of the art work. On another hand other artists like Verushka are creating beautiful images of transfigurations where the body melts with the nature and becomes a part of the environment, becomes sometimes an object.
  • One of the main body art movements in this period was in Austria:

The term Viennese Actionism describes a short and violent movement in 20th century art that can be regarded as part of the many independent efforts of the 1960s to develop "action art" (Fluxus, Happening, Performance, Body Art, etc.). Its main participants were Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. As "actionists", they were active between 1960 and 1971. Most have continued their artistic work independently from the early 1970s onwards.

In my Body Art History Workshops I show a lot of their videos!

  • Verushka, born as Vera Gottliebe Anna Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort, can be called The Mother of Contemporary Body Painting.
  • Yves Klein and his Blue Anthropometries and fire paintings are also a very important part of the Body Art History.

Part 3-Contemporary body painting (after 1980)

  • Fine art body painting
  • Advertising
  • Fashion body painting
  • Commercial body painting
  • UV body painting
  • Special Effects
  • Airbrush
  • Competition body painting
  • Paintloon
  • Action painting
  • Body painting shows and performances

When I give a body art history lecture I show many images and videos from some special unknown and famous artists and projects.


Artistic Expression in Ancient China - History

Ancient China was one of the oldest and longest lasting civilizations in the history of the world. The history of Ancient China can be traced back over 4,000 years. Located on the eastern part of the continent of Asia, today China is the most populous country in the world.


Great Wall of China by Mark Grant

Throughout most of China's history it was ruled by powerful families called dynasties. The first dynasty was the Shang and the last was the Qing.

Ancient China also boasts the longest lasting empire in history. It began with the Qin dynasty and the first emperor Qin who united all of China under one rule in 221 BC. Emperors would continue to rule over China for more than 2000 years.

In early times the lands were ruled by the feudal system where lords owned the lands and farmers tended the fields. In later years, the empire was run by civil service officials who ran the cities, collected taxes, and enforced the laws. Men had to pass exams to become officials.

Art, Culture, and Religion

Art, culture, and religion were often tied together. There were three main religions or philosophies including Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. These ideas, called "the three ways" had a large impact on the way people lived as well as their art. Art focused on "the three perfections" painting, poetry, and calligraphy.

The great enemy of the Chinese was the Mongols who lived to the north. They even built a wall thousands of miles long to try and keep the Mongols from invading. The Mongols did conquer China for a time, however, and established their own dynasty called the Yuan Dynasty.


Conclusion

Asia, with all its vast lands and history, still stands as a significant contributor to the arts even today. Its wide range of culture and influence is a true testament to the evolution of art, and I hope you continue to learn more about these amazing timelines on your own.

For more wondrous tales of Asian art history, dive into the links below for further reading. And join me next month when we discuss the mysterious art from the Middle Ages.


Ancient Cave Art Strengthens Evidence for the Image of God

When our kids were little, we would decorate the refrigerator door with their artwork. They were so proud of their creations that they wanted them displayed for everyone to see.

Now that we have grandchildren, once again our refrigerator door has become adorned with what we consider to be artistic masterpieces made by little hands. Children seem to be born with an innate need to leave their mark on the world.

In fact, no matter how old we are, each of us is compelled to create. Some people produce art, music, and literature. Others design new technologies And others erect buildings. And, like little children, we want people to see and appreciate our work.

All human beings are creative. Creativity defines and distinguishes us from all other creatures that exist now—or ever existed. As a Christian, I view our capacity and compulsion to create as a manifestation of the image of God—a quality that every human being possesses and which makes each human life infinitely valuable.

Our capacity to create art, music, and literature hinges on our capacity for symbolism—an ability to represent the world around us with symbols. We even devise symbols to represent abstract concepts. And we can manipulate these symbols in countless ways to tell stories—stories about the way we think things are and imaginary stories about how we wish things would be. Our capacity to create art, music, and literature hinges on our capacity for symbolism—an ability to represent the world around us with symbols. We even devise symbols to represent abstract concepts. And we can manipulate these symbols in countless ways to tell stories—stories about the way we are. This open-ended generative capacity combined with our symbolic abilities even makes science and technology possible.

So, when did human symbolic and open-ended generative capacities first appear? Did they emerge suddenly? Did they appear gradually? Are these qualities truly unique to human beings or did other hominins, such as Neanderthals, possess them too?

If the biblical account of human origins is true, then I would expect that symbolic expression would be unique to modern humans and would coincide with our first appearance as a species. One way to address these questions is to seek after evidence of symbolism in the archaeological record. Artistic depictions serve as the most accessible proxy for symbolism among the artifacts left behind by modern humans and other hominids.

The Oldest Cave Art Discovered to Date
Recently, a research team from Australia unveiled the oldest figurative art discovered to date. 1 Instead of being affixed to a refrigerator door, this artwork was depicted on the walls of the Leang Tedongnge cave, located on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Using a technique that measures uranium and thorium in the calcium carbonate deposits that have formed underneath and on top of the cave paintings, the researchers age-dated the paintings at over 45,000 years old.

These paintings were discovered in 2017 and consist of four warty pigs (Sus celebensis), creatures endemic to Sulawesi. The artists used red ochre, which gives the paintings a red/purple hue. Two hand stencils accompany the pigs. Only one of the pigs is complete. A large portion of the other three pigs has been lost due to erosion of the cave wall (which served as a canvas for the artwork). The intact pig measures over three feet in length. The head region of two of the three partial pigs has been preserved. Instead of facing in the same direction, the pigs appear to be facing off against one another. The researchers believe the artwork presents the viewer with a narrative of sorts, depicting social interactions taking place among the four pigs.

The Cave Art of Sulawesi
Prior to this discovery, archaeologists had identified and dated other art on cave walls in Sulawesi. Like the Leang Tedongnge cave art, that work includes hand stencils and depictions of animals. But it was determined to be younger in age, dating to around 35,000 to 40,000 years old. 2

In 2019, archaeologists published an analysis of a mural in a cave (called Leang Bulu’ Sipong 4) in the southern part of Sulawesi. 3 The panel presents the viewer with an ensemble of pigs and small buffalo (anoas), also endemic to Sulawesi. This art dates to around 44,000 years in age.

The most provocative feature of the Leang Bulu’ Sipong 4 artwork is the depiction of smaller human-like figures with animal features such as tails and snouts. Some of these figures are holding spears and ropes. Scholars refer to these human-animal depictions as therianthropes.

The presence of therianthropes in the cave art indicates that humans in Sulawesi conceived of things that did not exist in the material world. That is to say, they had a sense of the supernatural.

Because this artwork depicts a hunt involving therianthropes, the researchers see rich narrative content in the display, just as they see narrative content in the scene with pigs depicted on the walls of Leang Tedongnge.

When Did Symbolism First Appear?
The latest find in Leang Tedongnge solidifies the case that modern humans in Asia had the capacity for artistic expression as does other archeological evidence located throughout southeast Asia. 4

And they used their artistic ability to tell stories.

The Asian cave art is qualitatively similar to the art found on the cave walls in Europe, yet it dates older. This insight means that modern humans most likely had the capacity to make art even before beginning their migrations around the world from out of Africa (around 60,000 years ago). In other words, this discovery pushes the origin of symbolic capacity closer to the time that modern humans emerged.

Anthropologist Christopher Stringer from the Natural History Museum in London notes that, “The basis for this art was there 60,000 years ago it may even have been there in Africa before 60,000 years ago and it spread with modern humans.” 5

This conclusion gains support from the recent discovery of a silcrete flake from a layer in the Blombos Cave of South Africa that dates to about 73,000 years old. A portion of an abstract drawing is etched into this flake. 6 In fact, based on the dates of art made by the San, linguist Shigeru Miyagawa believes that artistic expression emerged in Africa earlier than 125,000 years ago. 7

Consistent with the archaeological finds is recently discovered evidence that the globular brain shape of modern humans first appears in the archaeological record around 130,000 years ago. 8 Some anthropologists believe that the globular brain shape correlates with the brain structures needed for symbolic expression. Interestingly enough, the Neanderthal brain shape was more elongated. This elongation forced a size reduction in the areas of the brain needed for symbolism. Nevertheless, claims of Neanderthal artistic expression abound in popular literature and appear in scientific journals, but a number of studies question these claims. 9

When researchers assemble all the evidence from the fossil and archaeological records , a strong case can be made that only human beings display symbolism and open-ended generative capacity—scientific descriptors of the image of God. Of equal significance, the data also indicates that the origin of these two features occurs simultaneously and abruptly with our first appearance in the fossil record.

Far from challenging the biblical account of human origins and the biblical perspective on human nature, cave art demonstrates the scientific credibility of the biblical text—and this evidence is on full display for everyone to see.


The Historical Expression of Chinese Art exhibition

This Australian-first exhibition explored the breadth and tradition of Chinese calligraphy and painting through artworks from the National Museum of China&rsquos collection.

Previously on show at the National Museum of Australia, 5 April to 28 July 2019

All images courtesy National Museum of China

Calligraphy and painting are two treasures of traditional Chinese culture. For thousands of years artists have produced works that have sustained the practice of China&rsquos most revered art and provided cultural nourishment for the Chinese people.

Exhibition highlights included exquisite paintings by three Chinese modern artists &mdash Xie Yun, Xiao Lang and Wang Naizhuang &mdash and a replica of an extraordinary 20-metre-long 18th-century scroll documenting Emperor Qianlong&rsquos 1751 tour to the southern provinces. A mesmerising and immersive animation brought the story of the scroll and its historical figures to life in intricate three-dimensional detail.

The National Museum of Australia&rsquos Harvest of Endurance pictorial scroll, painted in the traditional gongbi style and representing two centuries of Chinese contact with, and migration to, Australia formed a companion element of the exhibition, with eight of its 50 metres on display.


Turquoise History and Lore

This 15th-16th century icon of Mexican (Aztec) art, was probably worn on the chest on ceremonial occasions. ©The Trustees of the British Museum Turquoise is one of the world&rsquos most ancient gems. Archaeological excavations revealed that the rulers of ancient Egypt adorned themselves with turquoise jewelry, and Chinese artisans were carving it more than 3,000 years ago. Turquoise is the national gem of Tibet, and has long been considered a stone that guarantees health, good fortune, and protection from evil.

The gem&rsquos name comes from the French expression pierre tourques, or &ldquoTurkish stone.&rdquo The name, which originated in the thirteenth century, reflects the fact that the material probably first arrived in Europe from Turkish sources.

Turquoise was a ceremonial gem and a medium of exchange for Native American tribes in the southwestern US. They also used it in their jewelry and amulets. The Apaches believed that turquoise attached to a bow or firearm increased a hunter&rsquos or warrior&rsquos accuracy.

Turquoise is plentiful and available in a wide range of sizes. It&rsquos used for beads, cabochons, carvings, and inlays. Although well known to consumers, its popularity in the mainstream jewelry industry comes and goes. The biggest and most permanent market is in the American Southwest. It&rsquos also popular elsewhere, among customers who are captivated by that region&rsquos mystery and romance, as well as by the blue of its skies.

In the United States, turquoise is one of the birthstones for December. (Zircon is the other option for that month).


Watch the video: Πώς ήταν η Αρχαία Αθήνα, Ένα εντυπωσιακό video 3D (December 2021).