Asian Art
Articles on Arts & Crafts of China, India, Japan, SE Asia.

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Bronze Head with Gold Foil Mask
(c.1100 BCE) One of a series of
ancient monumental bronzes
discovered at Sanxingdui, in today's
western province of Sichuan, China.

Asian Art (from 38,000 BCE)


Articles on Asian Art
Russian Far East

6th Century mural painting from the
famous Ajanta Caves, located in
Maharashtra, Western India.

Dogu Clay Figurine from the
Late Jomon Period (1500-1000 BCE)
of Japanese ceramic art.


The huge Asian continent has given birth to numerous types of art that predate anything seen in the West. Ancient pottery, for example, first appeared in China, as did large scale bronze sculpture, sericulture, as well as jade carving and lacquerware, and also calligraphy. In other fields - such as terracotta sculpture, for instance - Chinese ingenuity and creativity is unmatched, while in the arts of painting and metalwork the contribution of Chinese artists has been outstanding. The gigantism of Chinese statues is also well known. Chinese culture has had a major impact on the arts and crafts of other East Asian countries like Korea and Japan, although Japanese artists and craftsmen have also achieved worldwide renown in disciplines as diverse as woodcuts, paper-folding, ceramic art, origami, ink-and-wash painting and wood-carving. Art on the Indian subcontinent - distinguished above all by its exceptional longevity - has developed more independently of China, although it was strongly influenced by Greek sculpture during the era of Hellenistic art, and latterly by the Islamic art of the Persian Mughal Empire. On the mainland, south-east Asian culture is exemplified by Khmer temple architecture, as well as Buddhist sculpture, batik textiles and certain types of metallurgy, while on the archipelagos of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, it shares many characteristics with the Oceanic art of the South Pacific. Unfortunately, with the exception of certain types of stone and metalwork, most art of south-east Asia has - like much of the tribal art of Africa - disintegrated due to the effects of the climate. However, following the amazing find of cave painting in the Maros-Pangkep caves near Maros, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, experts believe there is a great deal more prehistoric art there, waiting to be discovered.


For a chronological guide to the evolution of arts and crafts of Asia, please see: Chinese Art Timeline (18,000 BCE - present). To see how they fit into the evolution of art in general, see: History of Art Timeline (from 800 BCE). For a detailed look at the dates of Paleolithic culture around the world, please see: Prehistoric Art Timeline (2.5 Million - 500 BCE). For the evolution of pots, please see: Pottery Timeline (c.26,000 BCE - 1900)



Articles on Asian Art


Angkor Wat Temple (c.1115-1145)
Architecture & Sculpture of 12th century Khmer temple in Cambodia, built by King Suryavarman II, to serve as his mausoleum.


Chinese Pottery (18,000 BCE - 1911 CE)
History and development of porcelain, celadon and stoneware.

Xianrendong Cave Pottery (c.18,000 BCE)
World's oldest clay-fired pots, found in Jiangxi Province.

Yuchanyan Cave (16,000 BCE)
World's second oldest ceramic ware discovered in a limestone rock shelter south of the Yangzi River basin in Hunan Province.

Chinese Art
Painting, bronze sculpture, metalwork, enamelling, decorative arts, architecture and crafts.

Traditional Chinese Art
Ceremonial bronzes, jade carvings, pottery, lacquerware, metal sculpture, clay statuettes, scroll painting, calligraphy and more.

Neolithic Art in China (7500-2000 BCE)
Late Stone Age cultures in China; Xia Dynasty, Bronze Age art.

Jade Carving (c.4900 BCE onwards)
Art of hardstone carving in nephrite, jadeite.

Lacquerware (4,500 BCE onwards)
Art of decorating wood, bamboo, metal or other surfaces, with a hard, resinous, colourful finish, made from the resin of the Toxicodendron vernicifluum, known as the Lacquer Tree.

Xia Dynasty Culture (c.2100-1600 BCE)
Noted for its black eggshell pottery, bronze making (including the piece-mold casting technique), sericulture, early forms of calligraphy.

Shang Dynasty Art (1700-1050 BCE)
Renowned for its ceremonial bronzes, plus developments in pottery, jade carving, lacquerware and ivory carving, as well as fine turqoise goblets, and more.

Sanxingdui Bronzes (1200-1000 BCE)
Large-scale bronze sculptures of human faces and masks uncovered near the present-day city of Guanghanin, in the province of Sichuan.

Zhou Dynasty Art (1050-221 BCE)
Celebrated for its outstanding bronze casting of ceremonial vessels, as well as jade carving, and the development of calligraphy and lacquerware.

Qin Dynasty Art (221-206 BCE)
Famous for the extraordinary hoard of figurative sculpture known as the Chinese Terracotta Army, one of the greatest archeological finds in the history of Asian art.

Chinese Painting (from c.200 BCE)
Ink and Wash paintings, Mountain-and-Water paintings, Tang Landscapes, Song Dynasty Golden Age of Chinese painting (960-1279), Roll paintings.

Chinese Calligraphy (206 BCE - 1911 CE)
The art of stylized writing, or the art of converting Chinese characters into expressive images using responsive rice paper and the pressure of a tapered brush.

Han Dynasty Art (206 BCE - 220 CE)
Celebrated for developments in Chinese pottery (notably ceramic figurines), jade carving (notably jade suits), silk weaving and Chinese painting (on paper).

Arts of the Six Dynasties Period (220-589)
Noted for its Buddhist architecture and decorative art, as well as cave paintings as well as stone statues carved out of cliffs, and more.

Chinese Buddhist Sculpture (c.100-present)
Buddhist statuary ranks alongside jade carving, lacquerware and porcelain, as one of China's most distinctive visual arts.

Chinese Porcelain (c.100-1800)
Characteristics, history, types of fine white china.

Chinese Painters (c.220-present)
Chronological list of Chinese artists, from the 4th century to the 20th century, including contemporary painters.

Sui Dynasty Art (589-618)
Buddhism stimulated demand for all types of art, including architecture and ceramics. Bronze statues depicted both Buddha and Bodhisattvas, as did ivory carving.

Tang Dynasty Art (618-906)
Famous for its shan shui (mountain-water) painting, tomb murals, jade carving, Buddhist stone sculpture, and more.

Song Dynasty Art (960-1279)
Noted for its ink and wash painting, calligraphy and jade carving as well as black and red lacquerware, and more.

Yuan Dynasty Art (1271-1368)
Noted for calligraphy, ink and wash painting, Buddhist stone statues, and the first recorded blue-and-white Chinese porcelain.

Ming Dynasty Art (1368-1644)
world famous its ceramic art: in particular, its cobalt blue and white porcelain, its sea-green celadon glazed stoneware, and its white porcelain sculpture.

Qing Dynasty Art (1644-1911)
Famous for landscape painting, Buddhist temples of the Tibetan school, porcelain decorated with fencai enamel, and more.

Chinoiserie (17th/18th Century)
Pseudo-Chinese decorative style which flourished in Europe. Chinoiserie motifs (dragons, pagodas, figures, landscapes) were introduced into garden architecture, interior design, ceramics, textiles and silks.

Cynical Realism (1990s)
Chinese contemporary painting movement, influenced by Surrealism, that satirized the fear and uncertainly prevalent among the avant-garde following the suppression of the Tiananmen demonstrations (1989).


Bhimbetka Petroglyphs (290,000-700,000 BCE)
World's oldest cave art. Cupules found at Auditorium Cave & Daraki-Chattan Rock Shelter.

Art in India: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture
Introduction to the visual arts of the Indian Subcontinent.

Indus Valley Civilization & Culture (3,300-1300 BCE)
Harappan seal-carving, bronzes - like the Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-Daro - pottery and architecture.

Indian Sculpture (3300 BCE - 1850)
Indus Valley culture, Pillars of Ashoka, Ajanta Caves, Hindu sculpture of the Gupta Empire Elephanta Caves, Pallava, Pandya, Pala, Chandela, Chola and Mughal schools of plastic art.

Classical Indian Painting (Up to 1150 CE)
Ajanta, Bagh, Sigiriya, Badami, Panamalai, Sittanavasal, Tanjore, and Polotmaruva schools of painting plus Pali illuminated manuscripts and late Buddhist art in Bengal and Sri Lanka.

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple (Khajuraho) (1017-29)
Located in Madhya Pradesh, India, it is renowned for its Nagara-style architecture and erotic stone carvings.

Post-Classical Indian Painting (14th-16th Century)
Vijayanagar painting, Gujarat illuminations, illustrations from Mewar and Malva, plus Hindu art in Orissa.

Taj Mahal (1632-54)
A masterpiece of 17th century Mughal architecture.

Mughal Painting (16th-19th Century)
Babur, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurengzeb painters, plus painting from the Islamicised Sultanates of the Deccan.

Rajput Painting (16th-19th Century)
Rajastan, Mewar, Malva, Bundi, Kotah, Kishangar painters, plus the Upper Punjab schools like the Basohli, Guler, Jammu, Garual and Kangra groups.


Sulawesi Cave art (Indonesia) (c.37,900 BCE)
Asia's oldest known cave art, proof that creativity first emerged before modern man left Africa to migrate around the world.


Japanese Art
Jomon pottery, art of the Buddhist Temples, Zen ink-painting, Yamato-e ("Japanese Painting"), Ukiyo-e ("Pictures of the Floating World"), and more.

Jomon Pottery (c.14500-1000 BCE)
Ancient "cord pattern" pottery produced by Japan's first Stone Age culture.

Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints (c.1670-1900)
Japanese woodcuts that were hugely fashionable during the Edo culture (Tokyo), by artists like Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Hokusai (1760-1849). Exported to Europe in the 1860s.

Japonism (c.1854-1900)
Name given to the late-19th century European craze for Japanese art - notably screens, fans, lacquers, silks, porcelains and Ukiyo-e prints.

Japanese art of paper folding. Known as Zhezhi in China, and Jong-i jeob gi in Korea.


Korean Art (from 3,000 BCE)
Including its prehistoric culture, as well as arts from the Three Kingdoms period, Silla Period, Goryeo Dynasty, Joseon Dynasty, and Modern period.


Amur River Basin Pottery (14,300 BCE)
Paleolithic & neolithic ceramic pots, from the Russian Far East.


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