China at the Inception the Second Millennium A.D. Art and Culture of the Sung Dynasty,960-1279China at the Inception the Second Millennium A.D. Art and Culture of the Sung Dynasty,960-1279China at the Inception the Second Millennium A.D. Art and Culture of the Sung Dynasty,960-1279
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Introduction

    Of all the periods in Chinese history, the Sung dynasty stands out for the emphasis on culture. This period gave birth to many of China's cultural luminaries and cultivated an atmosphere in which education and erudition became the pillars of society. The deep and vast roots of China's culture and the great heritage of Chinese thought guided the interests of many Sung philosophers. Scholars contemplated all matters of the inner and outer world and discussed things old and new. They diligently explored the workings of the great doctrines in terms of the universe, nature, and the past. This in turn helped form the sincere and down-to-earth nature of Sung thought, which differed from those of the Han and T'ang dynasties--two other great epochs in Chinese history. Landscape painting is an ideal example of how these ideas extended to art. The monumental landscapes of the Northern Sung and intimate settings of the Southern Sung are a concrete expression of the grandeur and mystery of Nature.
Riding a Dragon Ma Yuan (fl. 1190-1224), Sung Dynasty

Chou-li shu Annotated by Cheng Hsuan (Han Dynasty [206 BC-AD 220]); commentary by Chia Kung-yen (T'ang Dynasty [618-907])
Engraved Slips on the Shan Sacrifices by Chen-tsung (with box plaques) Jade Northern Sung, dated 1008

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   Emperors in the Sung dynasty respected scholars and valued erudition, which is reflected in government, where civil administration ranked over military matters. The official system encouraged the pursuit of education, and advances in printing and publishing promoted the expansion of erudition as had never been seen before. Consequently, the pursuit of antiquity and learning by Sung officials far exceeded that of previous periods. This is evident from the revival of ancient rituals and music for court ceremonies to the establishment of the archaeological study of stele and bronze discoveries as well as advances in other fields.