Chinese Art Timeline
Chinese Art Timeline (18,000 BCE - present)
Here is a chronological list of dates showing the development of Chinese art and civilization from the Stone Age onwards, together with the history of Korean art, its closest neighbour. Beginning with the era of prehistoric art, it includes all major art forms, such as ancient pottery, bronze casting, calligraphy, ink and wash painting, jade carving, porcelain, Buddhist sculpture and lacquerware. The cultures of China, Korea and Japan developed strong associations and affinities with each other. Cultural exchanges were initially facilitated by land bridges connecting Japan with the continent of Asia, after which Korea became the main conduit of Asian culture to Japan, in many fields of visual expression, notably metalwork, painting, and ceramics. Similar religious faiths - including Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto - also exerted a unifying influence. Two forms of visual art were of particular importance to East Asian culture: the fashioning of clay-formed vessels and calligraphic expression through the ink-charged brush. Moreover, since Chinese painting derived in large part from calligraphy, mastery of the brush-rendered calligraphic line was essential for Chinese painters. As a result, calligraphy was of major significance in the transmission of cultural values. For the background to ancient China, see Prehistoric Art Timeline. For the evolution of Western culture, please see the list of dates in our History of Art Timeline. For the aesthetics of Far Eastern arts, see Characteristics of Traditional Chinese Art. For more about the cultural practices of East Asia, see Japanese Art.
Earliest known form of Asian
art (SE Asia) - the Sulawesi
Cave art in Indonesia.
The earliest examples of celadon are reportedly
discovered during tomb excavations in Zhejiang, dating to the Eastern
Han Dynasty (25220 CE). Other experts claim that celadon was not
created until the start of the Northern Song Dynasty (9601127).
| Era of Ming
Dynasty art begins (ends 1644). Noted for its exports of blue-and-white
Ming ware (known as kraak porcelain), made in Jingdezhen. Technical improvements
were made in the use of cobalt for underglaze blue decoration during the
reign of the Xuande Emperor (142535). Under the Chenghua Emperor (146487)
similar advances were made in enamelling
and metalwork. Other Ming designs influenced by Islamic
art (notably metalwork), and by the art of Ancient Persia. Blanc
de Chine porcelains were first made under the Mings at Dehua in Fujian
Joseon Dynasty culture begins in Korea. Buddhism is replaced by Neo-Confucianism as the official Korean ideology. This leads to a new elite class, the Neo-Confucian literati, dominating the governing bureaucracy. It also stimulates the production of white porcelain, which is seen as embodying the Neo-Confucian ideals of purity. Muromachi culture begins in Japan (ends 1573), under the Ashikaga shoguns, noted for its cultural exchanges with China, the development of its Zen monasteries - where painter-monks produced Japan's first ink paintings.
Construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing starts.
The huge Yongle Encyclopedia is finished.
The Forbidden City is completed in Beijing. The Yongle Emperor announces Beijing is the new capital; Nanjing is demoted.
Buddhist "Porcelain Pagoda" (Temple of Gratitude) finished in Nanjing.
The Korean ruler, King Sejong the Great, oversees a number of cultural advances, including the creation of the Hangul alphabet, Korea's system of writing. In addition, during the period 1400-1600, Korean porcelain is created for the wealthy, and buncheong ware for the less well-off. Buncheong pottery was then discontinued in Korea, although it endured in Japan where it was a popular feature of the tea ceremony.
Ming Emperors begin major restoration of The Great Wall of China.
First Portuguese explorers - Jorge Alvares and Rafael Perestrello - arrive in China.
Portuguese traders return from China with samples of kaolin clay, which they correctly understood to be an essential ingredient in porcelain production. But European scientists fail to replicate Chinese wares. Beginning of Mughal painting and Rajput painting in India.
Beginning of Momoyama culture in Japan (ends 1615), noted for its castle architecture, its textile and lacquerware designs.
Italian Jesuit priest arrives in Beijing to introduce Western science to court. In Korea, a new form of folk art, known as minhwa, flourishes. Origami (ori means "folding", kami means "paper") the traditional Japanese art of paper folding begins in the 17th century.
Dutch East India Company exports 6 million items of Chinese porcelain to Europe over the following eight decades.
Japanese style of kabuki theatrical art first seen in Kyoto.
Start of the Japanese Edo culture (ends 1868), noted for its several schools of painting, as well as its decorative arts including ceramics, lacquering, textiles, and metalwork.
Manchus capture Beijing; era of Qing Dynasty art begins (ends 1911). Henceforth Korea regards itself as the centre of Confucian civilization. The two greatest Qing patrons of the arts are the Kangxi Emperor (16611722), and the Qianlong Emperor (17351796).
Manchus force Chinese men to wear hair in a long queue or plait.
Taj Mahal completed in India by Mughal architects and builders.
Kangxi Emperor ushers in golden age of Qing culture.
First examples of Japanese Edo-period Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints (c.1670-1900). This new type of graphic art is created for urban inhabitants. Through mass-produced woodblock prints, inexpensive art becomes available to all. Famous exponents include Harunobu (1724-1770), Hiroshige (1797-1858), Hokusai (1760-1849), and Utamaro (c.1753-1806). The genre will have an important impact on the history of poster art in Europe.
Taiwan overrun by Qings.
During the 18th-century, Korean painters developed a nationalist genre known as jingyeong sansu (true-view landscape), featuring Korean scenery rather than the usual idealized Chinese-style landscapes. The century also saw the rise of a light-hearted style of Korean genre painting.
Papal diplomat Charles-Thomas Maillard De Tournon arrives in China.
German Meissen scientist Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus (1651-1708) finally succeeds in producing the hard, white, translucent Chinese-style porcelain.
British East India Company establishes an office in Guangzhou.
Chinese porcelain-making secrets revealed by the French Jesuit Francois Xavier d'Entrecolles (1664-1741).
Catholicism is introduced into Korea from China. In 2010 one in three South Koreans are Christian (13 million).
Until the Qing Dynasty, Chinese jades are made of nephrite (or bowenite), known as white jade. In 1800, merchants import a new vivid green variety of jadeite from Burma, known as Feicui, which becomes the favourite of the Manchu court.
Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary arrives in China.
The Bible is published in Chinese.
First Opium War.
Treaty of Nanjing.
Second Opium War.
Japonism flourishes. This late-19th century European craze for Japanese decorative art, encompasses fans, screens, lacquers, silks, porcelains and woodblock prints.
In Japan, the western-oriented Technological Art School opens in Tokyo. Japanese painting develops out of a dualism of western and eastern styles, featuring Yoga (Western-style painting) and Nihonga (Japanese painting).
First Sino-Japanese War.
Chinese Boxer Rebellion.
Korea is overrun by the Japanese Empire which closes schools of Korean art, and forces the remaining artists to paint Japanese subjects in Japanese styles.
The nationalist Chinese group, the Kuomintang, under Chiang Kai-shek, attack Chinese communists under Mao Zedong, who undertake the Long March.
Second Sino-Japanese War.
Allies occupy and rule Japan.
Japan adopts a new liberal democratic constitution.
Korea partitioned into independent states, North and South.
People's Republic of China (PRC) is founded by Mao Zedong. All Chinese arts are politicized: socialist realism becomes the dominant idiom of cultural propaganda.
Japan's unique contribution to 20th century art spans creative activities in graphic art, as well as animation, video game graphics and concept art: distinctive forms include anime and manga stories.
Korean War between North and South Korea.
Treaty of San Francisco ends Allied occupation of Japan.
Chinese Cultural Revolution unleashes period of great turmoil throughout China. Posters and poster art become important methods of communication.
After Mao's death and the arrest of the Gang of Four, Deng Xiaoping becomes paramount leader of China.
Tiananmen Square demonstrations.
Emergence of Cynical Realism, a contemporary painting movement that uses humour and Surrealist imagery to express the fear and uncertainty in China, following Tiananmen Square. Famous contemporary artists involved include Zhang Xiaogang (b.1958), Zeng Fanzhi (b.1964) and Yue Minjun (b.1962). Cynical Realism is associated with Political Pop - another Chinese contemporary movement - and the pop artist Wang Guangyi (b.1957).
700-ton Grand Buddha of Longshan erected in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
The Guanyin of the South China Sea Buddhist statue erected at Foshan, Guangdong.
Shanghai Biennial Arts Festival. Chinese art now embraces a wide range of contemporary as well as traditional forms. These include film, video art and photography, as well as installation and performance art, as well as revived versions of traditional pottery, jade carving and lacquerwork.
The Spring Temple Buddha, the tallest statue in the history of sculpture, is built in Lushan County, Henan.
The Guanyin of the South Sea of Sanya Buddhist statue is erected on the south coast of China's island province of Hainan.
The Guishan Guanyin of the Thousand Hands and Eyes is made at Changsha, Hunan.
The Guan Yu of Yuncheng Guan Buddhist statue is erected at Yu Yuncheng, Shanxi.
For more about oriental arts and culture, see: Homepage.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART