China is a country that is rich in culture as vividly displayed in the various ways. Among these ways, Chinese artwork remains to be by far the most outstanding over time. These artworks can be traced back to several centuries ago during a time that was marked with different dynasties that lasted hundreds of years. Some of the then famous forms of art included painting, porcelain, Chinese ivory, sculpture and architecture, just to mention but a few. The artists behind these forms of art had various ways of creating and appreciating beauty that was displayed in their work. Among the ways through which beauty was expressed was by use of curvilinear aesthetics.
Curvilinear aesthetic refers to the use of and depiction of curves in arts. This can be expressed through the various types of arts for a variety of reasons. Some of the arts through which the use of carves has been largely include painting, architecture, porcelain, and ivory. The following is an outline of how this has been achieved in the above mentioned expressions of art.
Chinese painting, as a form or art dates back to the Neolithic Age (more than 6000 years ago) according to Linz 2006 (5). Painting has had tremendous growth over the years with the most of it taking place during the sixth century and more so during the Tang Dynasty.
Calligraphy as one of the oldest basic forms of Chinese art
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It is basically refers to the painting of characters with a brush. This form of painting has a characteristic feature of efficient brush strokes. Remizov is a re-known writer who turned out to be one of the greatest calligraphers of all times. According to Macleod, Plesch and Schoell-Glass (300) He (Remizov) was ever conscious of his writing gift. He had always pictured himself progress from just calligraphy to drawing. He once stated the correlation between calligraphy and his drawings. He said that the curvilinear nature of letters is what inspires calligraphers.
This his mastered after having been into writing and drawing so much to the point of failing to fulfill his early dream of becoming a draughtsman. His teachers really complained about his drawings stating that he was going over-board. Their complaining did not yield much since his level of engagement somehow had a negative effect on him. This is according to some people. He still believed that this form of art drew him to the most genuine art despite the argument that it had a negative impact on him. It was the root of his drawing passion! It therefore goes without mentioning that indeed letter curvilinear is part and parcel of calligraphy as an art.
Ancient Chinese people decorated their property with decorations that had both aesthetic and cultural meanings. For example, creatures like the dragon, phoenix, the tiger and the tortoise were highly regarded by Chinese people of those earlier years. Today, the dragon is the animal that is most readily associated with the Chinese. It is usually long with a scaled body, having popping eyes, long tail, short legs and so on and so forth. This is proved by the fact that almost half of the imperial carpets traced from the 16th century depict dragons. These dragons are given (when painted) are given a more naturalistic appearance through curvilinear.
Architecture can be traced back to Tang Dynasty of the Chinese history. Chinese architecture has dominated East Asia over time in countries such as Vietnam, Japan, Turkistan and Korea. In these countries, this form of art is used for different purposes. Curved roofs, for example, reflect a Buddhist belief that ghosts have a tendency of moving in straight lines. According to Baumeister and Lee (40), these conspicuous curves that mark these houses are a hybridized pretention of Chineseness. But according to the Chinese, these curved roofs make it hard for them (ghosts) to move hence they bounce off. This is more so the case in the doctrines of the Feng Shui. Temple roofs as well had curved roofs mad of glazed ceramic tiles. They were characterized by a graceful upward slope and this was believed to help ward off evil spirits that could only move in straight lines. Some houses also have a ‘ghost wall’ inside their entrances. It was believed that such would hamper ghosts’ movements. Such walls force every visitor to change their direction. Ghosts are not able to change directions since it is believed they move in straight lines
Many traditional Chinese buildings have curved eaves. This is symbolic of the rich Chinese culture. The builds in themselves are plain and straightforward in their construction but the ridge of the eaves twist to form upwardly-curving eaves. Some argue that this is a hydraulic device to throw water away from the building. Western architects do not employ this design of building on ordinary buildings this is because they require more material and are also labor intensive.
Carving is a unique and indeed important art to the Chinese people and this has been the case for thousands of years. It is classified into three broad categories based on the material that is used for making the carvings: bamboo carvings, wood carvings and ivory carving. Ivory carving is the most known type of the three. It entails carving of ivory. This is the milk-white material that is gotten from the tusks of the elephant, walruses and also from narwhals.
Ivory carvings have their origin in the early Neolithic Age of China’s history (Sullivan 35). The then artists kicked of their artwork by using bones, fangs, animal horns as well as stoneware and wooden artifacts. This form of art grew gradually and experienced rapid growth during the Song Dynasty. The natural curve of the elephant’s tusk gave them a unique feature. This meant that they could be turned different things. It is important to note that thought this form of art has its roots in the Chinese history, the ivory that was used then came from Africa. The ivory was carved into figures of female court attendants, the goddess of mercy, images of Buddha, plates and so on. Of special concern was turning them into goddesses and holy figures as well. Working on ivory required precision and curvilinear had to be employed to achieve the desired ends. In the present day China (Beijing), there are carvings of figures of ladies, flowers and birds among others. This without a doubt shows that curvilinear aesthetic has a major role in production of quality and attractive carvings.
Porcelain was birthed in China way before the Tang Dynasty. Its earliest forms had characteristic smooth, impervious and hard enamel. Porcelain were used frequently by ordinary people and the items used included bowls, cups, tea sets, vases, jewel cases and incense burners among others. As time went by, kilns that were used to bake porcelain for royalty were set up thereby changing the complexion of the porcelain industry.
One of the distinguishing factors about the Chinese Porcelain is the shape. Since its first production (Song Dynasty) the forms of porcelain were limited in shapes. Different dynasties were characterized by some variations though those variations were limited. The shapes were more or less the same especially in table and kitchen ware. This is because of the utilitarian purpose as well as the association with our eating habits. The most decorative types, i.e. the vases, jars and ceramic containers were the ones whose shapes changed more frequently. Some shapes or curves are rare or non-existent in Chinese ceramics of the past. Today, curves are utilized in the making of vases, wooden stands, plates and so on and so forth.