The art of the Yuan dynasty

During the Yuan dynasty, China became a part of the Mongol empire.

1271–1368

Beginner's Guide

What is the Yuan dynasty?

videos + essays

We're adding new content all the time!

Attributed to Cheng Qi, <em>Tilling Rice, after Lou Shou</em>
Attributed to Cheng Qi, Tilling Rice, after Lou Shou

This handscroll is almost thirty-five feet long and illustrates the twenty-one steps of producing rice.

Wu Zhen, <em>Fishermen, after Jing Hao</em>
Wu Zhen, Fishermen, after Jing Hao

Scholar hermits as fishermen boating on a river is one of Wu’s favorite painting themes.

Ni Zan, <em>A branch of bamboo</em>
Ni Zan, A branch of bamboo

Bamboo is a very popular subject in Chinese painting, especially among scholar-artists like Ni Zan

Zhao Mengfu, <em>Autumn Colors on the Que and Hua Mountains</em>, 1295
Zhao Mengfu, Autumn Colors on the Que and Hua Mountains, 1295

Zhao’s opened up artistic possibilities for the Four Yuan Masters, and literati painters in subsequent centuries.

Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), an introduction
Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), an introduction

Despite the short duration of the Yuan dynasty, it was an extremely vital period in the arts.

Caterina Vilioni’s tomb in Yangzhou
Caterina Vilioni’s tomb in Yangzhou

A tombstone belonging to an Italian merchant's daughter found in Yangzhou reveals the social and religious plurality of Yuan China

Xie Chufang, <em>Fascination of Nature</em>, handscroll
Xie Chufang, Fascination of Nature, handscroll

A rare Yuan dynasty painting shows animals and insects feeding off each other.

Qian Xuan, Young nobleman on horseback, handscroll
Qian Xuan, Young nobleman on horseback, handscroll

A literati painter, Qian painted landscapes, historical figures and flowers.

Zheng Sixiao, Ink Orchid
Zheng Sixiao, Ink Orchid

Zheng’s precise calligraphic strokes lend vitality and movement to these delicate flowers. But are they rootless?

The David Vases
The David Vases

Dragons! Elephants! A phoenix! Many motifs cover these tall vases, but it’s the inscriptions that date the pair.

<em>Buddha of Medicine Bhaishajyaguru (Yaoshi fo)</em>
Buddha of Medicine Bhaishajyaguru (Yaoshi fo)

This enormous Buddhist wall painting exemplifies an important format of Chinese painting rarely seen in the West.

Huang Gongwang, <em>Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains</em>
Huang Gongwang, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains

Unroll this handscroll and experience a spectacular panorama of rounded mountains, lush trees, and flowing water.

Selected Contributors