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Chinese art history


the study of objects from the past which in pre-modern China was an activity that supplemented and corrected the recieved historical record by the investigation of inscribed objects, especially ritual bronze vessels and texts cut into stone






the first patriarch of Chan Buddhism, an Indian or Sogdian monk who is beleived to have brought Chan from India to China


a being whose nature is enlightenment as in the historical Buddha prior to his final enlightenment

bracket cluster

dou gong, a combination of blocks (dou) and arms (gong) usualy atop a column that serves to transmit the roof weight to the column grid and foundation

Chan Buddhism

a Buddhist sect that emphasizes meditation and personal transmission of doctrine, aka Zen in Japanese


a chan term for official portraits of priests which may have served to document the transmission of docntrine from master to pupil

Cizhou ware

Northern China during Song and Ming, black and white


center of Tantric Buddhism and the site of Buddhist cave temples and carvings dating from the Tang to Qing dynasties, located in the northwest of the city of Chongqing, Szechuan

fengshui 風水

geomancy- the lore and methods of siting buildings with regard to the propitious or harmful influences of landscape formations

Guan ware

"official" special reference to Souther Song, crackled celadon glaze


the bodhisattva of compassion, one of the attendants of Amitabha Buddha and a popular object of devotion throughout East Asia (aka Avalokitesvara)


one of two contenders for the title of 6th patriarch of chan buddhism, traditionally known as the founder of Southern school of Chan

Jian ware

southern Chinese, blacks and browns with random spots on the glaze


"ruled-line painting" a style of painting in which rulers and other tools were used to produce precise and detailed images of man-made constructions


a semi-nomadic people who founded the Jin Dynasaty (1115-1234) in the north of modern day China and forced the Song Dynasty court south of the Huai River in 1127


a white clay with few imprities which is an essential ingredient in porcelain


a nonsensical or paradoxical question or story used in Chan Buddhism as amethod to force the listener to abandon logical thought and attain a suprarational understanding

longquan ware

porcellaneous stoneware with a grayish body and thick, green glaze, decorated with sculptural designs


the major follwers of the Buddha who vowed to remain alive to preserve his teachings (aka arhat)

Meditation school

a school of Chinese Buddhism devoted to intense mental regimens as a means of attaining enlightenment


the "final nirvana" - death of the historical Buddha


a high-fired ceramic made from white clay with clear glazes producing a vitreous resonant and translucent body


a semi-nomadic people who founded a kingdom on the northern border of Song-period China aka Liao dynasty


porcelain ware with blue-tinged glaze, thinly potted and may have incised or molded designs

Ru ware

extremely rare stoneware with thick, gray-blue glaze, Northern Song


an honorific name for the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) who was a member of the Sakya clan

shanshui 山水

a generic term for a landscape


high-fired ceramic that is partially virtrified, hence non porous and hard and often covered with a feldspathic gray-green or brown glaze


an Indian sacred mound erected by Buddhists to enshrine a relic


the holy texts, words, and teachigns of the Buddha

The Three Friends of Winter

pine, bamboo, and flowering plum = perserverance through adversity

Xing ware

stoneware with white glaze made in North China

yaozhou ware

stoneware with grayish body and usually decorated with an olive-green glaze


a desirable quality of natural spontaneity (lack of artifice and resonance with nature) in one's personality or creative work


Northern Song Capital

Emperor Huizong

northern song emperor, supporter of the arts especially elegant calligraphy, monocrhome imperial ware ceramics, elaborate garden complex


Southern Song capital

Emperor Gaozong

first Southern Song emperor

Dong Yuan

one of the founders of Dong-Ju school of landscape painting, perceptual effect of looking blurry and vague up close but resolving into legibility from a distance

Fan Kuan

landscape painter (Early Snow Along the River, Travelers Among mountains and Streams)

Guo Xi

Song court painter (The Lofty Message of Forests and Streams, Early Spring)

"three distances"

near, middle, far

Li Gonglin

Northern Song scholar-official (Illustrated Classic of Filial Piety)

Ma Yuan

Southern Song court painter (On a Mountain Path in Spring, Apricot Blossoms)

Su Shi

Song poet-official, literati

Huang Tingjian

Northern Song poet-official, large-scale, thickly brushed calligraphy (Han Shan's Poem)

Mi Fu

Northern Song calligraphist (Letter About a Coral Tree)

Mi Youren

Northern Song calligraphist, Mi Fu's son

the four great innovations of China

compass, gunpowder, paper, printing

Ding ware

white, translucent, pure ceramic ware, used a mold to decorate

Pure Land Buddhism

popular during Tang dynasty, assigned importance to Amitabha's bodhisattva Guanyin and Dashizhi

Esoteric Buddhism

Tang dynasty, brought to China by Indian monks

Zhang Zheduan

Northern Song jiehua painter (Spring Festival on the River)

Li Song

Southern Song court painter (Knick-Knack Peddler)

Liang Kai

Southern Song court painter who retired to a monastery and painted Chan Buddhism influenced paintings (Sakyamuni Emerging from the Mountains, 6th Chan Patriarch Chopping Wood)


Southern Song Chan Buddhist monk painter (Guanyin, Crane, and Mother Gibbon and Baby)

Ghenghis (Chinghis) Khan

Mongol warlord who conqured China and much of Asia

Khubilai Khan

Ghenghis' grandson who ruled the Yuan Dynasty

Marco Polo

Venetian traveller who became a part of Khubilai Khan's court


Tibetan silk painting with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, famous scene, or mandala of some sort

Zhao Mengfu

Yuan literati painter (The Mind Landscape of Xie Yuyu)

Guan Daosheng

Zhao Mengfu's wife (Bamboo Groves in Mist and Rain)

wenren hua

literati painting

Huang Gongwang

Yuan (Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains)

Ni Zan

Yuan poet, calligrapher, and landscape and bamboo painter (Rongxi Studio)

Wang Meng

Yuan, grandson of Zhao Mengfu (Dwelling in the Reclusion in the Qing Bian Mountains)

Wu Zhen

Yuan dynasty painter, (The Central Mountain)

the four masters of the Yuan

Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan, Wang Meng

the four gentlemen

the orchid, the bamboo, the chrysanthemum, and the plum blossom

Juyong gateway

the most famous portion of the Great Wall

Yongle Gong

third emperor of the Ming Dynasty's gardens

Lu Dongbin

Daoist deity considered to be the leader of the Eight Immortals

Li Tieguai

Daoist deity, most popular of the Eight Immortals, aka "Iron Crutch Li"


a Chinese God with a third truth-seeing eye in the middle of his forehead.


the "porcelain capital"

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