Proto-celadon and Celadon Wares in the UMAG Collection
Text: Shing-Kwan Chan, Kenneth

Chinese painting as a form of art has its own distinctive traditions and history. Some believe that Chinese painting has its origins intimately intertwined with the invention of the written script, in the actions of the primeval god Fuxi (伏羲), who at the dawn of time systematized images that were present in nature. Between the Han (漢朝; 206 BC - 220 AD) and Sui (隋朝; 581-618) dynasties, artists started to create elaborate, detailed images of the royal and feudal courts. Some of the earliest works depicting court lives of emperors and lords, their ladies, and the officials have been preserved in burial sites and tombs. During this time, individual artists such as Gu Kaizhi (顧愷之; c. 344–406) began to emerge.

Lan Ying 藍瑛, Bamboo and Rock 竹石圖, c. 17th century. Ink on silk. From the UMAG collection