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The Glorious Art of China – The Ch’in and Han Dynasties

With a recorded history of around 5,000 years, Chinese Civilization is one of the earliest civilizations in the world. China used to be an assortment of independent states in complete chaos, to the extent that this era is referred as ‘The Warring States’ period. As a result, most of the time there were battles and wars. Despite this reason, the Art of China could reach a versatile creative altar. The Ch’in and Han Dynasties contributed well towards Chinese artistry.

Ch’in Dynasty
In 246 BC, Qin (pronounced Ch’in) Shi Huang of the Qin tribe, after a series of victories, unified all the territories for the first time, naming it, China, from ‘The State of Ch’in.’

Qin standardized the ‘Chinese Writing’ and undertook gargantuan projects. He built the gigantic “Epang Palace,” the first of the “Great Wall of China,” and his own “mausoleum” near Xi’an, with its 8,000 clay soldiers and horses, known together as the “Terra-cotta Army.” Each standing guard is life-size and uniquely carved. The sculpted army is considered the greatest achievement of the Ch’in Art. Black was the chosen color for all state garments, flags, pennants.

Qin eliminated the “Hundred Schools of Thought” and all books other than those officially decreed were banned and burned. With his death in 210 BC, Qin’s Ch’in Empire collapsed within the next four years.

Han Dynasty
After the disastrous Ch’in Era, General Liu Pang of peasant origin, taking the name of Han Kao Tsu, established the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). He unified all the rival schools of Chinese philosophy into a single coherent system. This period, following ‘Confucianism,’ was an age of great economic, technological, cultural, and social progress in China.

The advent of Han Dynasty brought with it the art of making ‘Chinese Furniture’ from softwood or Bamboo. Two major changes took place in the first century AD, greatly affecting the nation. The first change was the spread of Buddhism in China from India. This proliferated the Buddhist Art of India to China as well. As a result, the Chinese started painting pictures and carving the sculptures of the Buddha, as ‘Chinese Buddhist Art,’ in styles similar to that of Indians. The second tremendous change was the invention of paper around 100BC. The event spawned two new Chinese Folk Paper Art forms namely, ‘Chinese Paper Cutting’ and ‘Chinese Paper Folding.’ The Folk Art also added the dimension of ‘Chinese Shadow Puppetry’ to Han Art.

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