Art of China

Imperial Chinese history begins in the 3rd century B.C.E. with Qin Shihuang, the first Emperor of China and ends with the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.



Dish with copper-red glaze, Ming dynasty, porcelain with copper-red glaze; on the base, a six-character cobalt-oxide (blue reign mark in a double circle under colorless glaze, c. 1426-35, 4.6 x 22 cm (Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.: Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment and Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, F2015.2a-b)
A red so rare, so impossible to make, the process was lost before the end of the Ming Dynasty.

A Ritual Ming dish





Jade Cong
These enigmatic, rectilinear tubes reveal clarity of thought and took great effort to produce. What can they mean?

Jade Cong








detail), Zhu Xiuli, Landscape, c. 1985-89, handscroll, ink and colour on paper, 30.3 cm high, China © Trustees of the British Museum
From mountain-shaped incense burners to paradisiacal Buddhist paintings, landscapes are central to Chinese art.

Chinese landscape painting





Oracle Bone, Shang dynasty
The writing on these bones is 3000 years old, but scholars can decipher an incredible 40 percent of the characters.

Oracle Bone, Shang Dynasty


Da Ke Ding
Not for everyday use, this ritual bronze vessel is significant in function and in heft. It weighs over 400 pounds!

Da Ke Ding




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

Zheng Sixiao, Ink Orchid



Chinese Buddhist cave shrines
Why were cave shrines created? Who were the patrons? What was their use? Discover these remarkable ancient sites.

Chinese Buddhist cave shrines