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National Palace Museum

Dynastic Renaissance: Art and Culture of the Southern Song

The Southern Song portion of the Song dynasty, lasting for 153 years (from 1127 to 1279), was a crucial period in the history of China's cultural development. The Southern Song court not only promoted itself as inheriting the line of orthodox rule by reinvigorating traditional rules of rites and music, it also helped breathe life into literary trends of the Jiangnan area in the south, attaching great importance to education in Confucian studies, converging Buddhist and Daoist thought, and firmly establishing Zhu Xi as representing the Confucian orthodoxy in the study of the Classics. Furthermore, the court successfully encouraged various forms of economic development, to such an extent that agriculture expanded, commerce thrived, handicrafts blossomed, and foreign trade flourished at this time. Economic prosperity helped drive the winds of change in art and culture as well. All forms of literary expression reveal in one way or another fulfillment of the Way as well as the scholarly pursuit of ease and naturalness. Cultivated scholars were fond of connoisseurship and collecting objects of culture and refinement, paying particular attention to expressions of taste in life. In terms of painting and calligraphy as well as arts and crafts, guidance from the imperial family, new geographic and climatic conditions of the area, and changes in humanistic trends all helped to yield unique and highly artistic qualities in both content and form that had a profound influence on developments in later art.
Dynastic Renaissance: Art and Culture of the Southern SongDynastic Renaissance: Art and Culture of the Southern SongDynastic Renaissance: Art and Culture of the Southern Song