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Asian Art

Ancient Near Eastern Art and Islamic Art

 Artists and architects in the ancient period crafted
and designed objects with religious and political
associations. The emergence of a number of
civilizations in the early times of West Asia (the area
of present-day Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and
Jordan) produced impressive palace, temple
structures and decorative art objects.
Plaster-covered skulls (7000 BC)
Ancient object found in Jericho, Jordan from Near East which
was presumably made for ancestral worship.
Ziggurats of the Sumerians (3500 – 2340)
The oldest monumental building in the Near East
Later, art techniques were altered to reflect the
new religious concerns when segments of the
population of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and
Jordan accepted Islam. Islamic art was influenced by
local tradition with religion as the common subject
matter. Islamic religious art is largely aniconic since the
Holy Book of Islam (Koran) condemns idol-worship.
Muhammad’s home in Medina became a typical basis
for mosques.
The Great Mosque of Kaironan (800-900 B.C.)
The independent dynasties in the western region
of the Islamic world produced a monumental
architectural form
India Art
 The art of the Indian subcontinent can be traced back
to as early as the Indus Valley civilization (3000-1500 BC),
an urban culture that grew up around Harappa
(Pakistan) and other sites in Western India.

 The Aryans do not seem to have produced images of

gods or living creatures. Only few artifacts had survived
since the time of their dominance in the Vedic Period
(1200-500 BC).
Gods of India
Within Hinduism a large number of personal gods are
worshipped as murtis. These beings are either aspects of the
supreme Brahman, avatars of the supreme being, or significantly
powerful entities known as devas. The exact nature of belief in
regards to each deity varies between differing Hindu
denominations and philosophies. Often these beings are
depicted in humanoid, or partially humanoid forms, complete
with a set of unique and complex iconography in each case. In
total, there are 330 thousand of these supernatural beings in
various Hindu traditions.
Hindu Art
A religious tradition that came to be known as Hinduism
was associated with the Vedic texts and Brahmanic
practitioners. Although the Hindu pantheon is large, many
worshippers tend to focus their prayers either on Vishnu,
the preserver, or Shiva, the destroyer. Elements associated
with fertility are frequently emphasized in Hindu figural
sculpture. The sexual anatomical features of these figures
have become the exclusive focus of other artworks.
Vishnu (the preserver)
God of Protection, Preservation of Good, Dharma
Shiva (the destroyer)
Supreme Being, Lord of Meditation, arts, yoga,
Supreme destroyer of evil
Buddhist Art
 Buddhist art has already evolved as it spread throughout
Asia and the world. It was believed to have originated in
the Indian subcontinent. Buddhist art includes any form
of media reflective of Buddha, bodhisattvas and other

 Buddhist art has gone through the aniconic and iconic

phases. During the aniconic phase, Buddha was
depicted through Buddhist symbolism and during iconic
phase, Buddhist art started to depict realistic human
features. The iconic Buddhist art flourished largely during
the Kushan dynasty.
Buddha was depicted through Buddhist symbolism. ‘Buddha’
means ‘Awakened One’, someone who has awakened from
the sleep of ignorance and sees things as they really are.
URNA (the third eye on the forehead)
In Buddhist art and culture, the Urna is a spiral or circular dot placed
on the forehead of Buddhist images as an auspicious mark. It
symbolizes a third eye, which in turn symbolizes vision into the divine
world; a sort of ability to see past our mundane universe of suffering.
CHAKRA (the wheel)
The Sanskrit word Chakra literally translates to wheel or
disk. In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, this term refers to
wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven
main chakras, which align the spine, starting from the
base of the spine through to the crown of the head.
LOTUS SYMBOL on the feet
In Buddhist art, a fully blooming lotus flower
signifies enlightenment, while a closed bud represents a
time before enlightenment. Sometimes a flower is partly
open, with its center hidden, indicating that
enlightenment is beyond ordinary sight.
The Buddha is depicted having long ears, because he is the enlightened one,
the compassionate one. He is said to have the ability to hear the sound of the
world. He hears the cries of suffering and responds accordingly to ease the
suffering. Since Buddha is the wise and compassionate one, it is only natural for
artists and craftsmen from the east to depict him as having long ears.
Buddhist Art is reflected in architecture in three basic forms -
A stupa is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics
that is used as a place of meditation. A related architectural term is
a chaitya, which is a prayer hall or temple containing a stupa.
The prayer hall
Vihara, early type of Buddhist monastery consisting of an open court surrounded
by open cells accessible through an entrance porch. The viharas in India were
originally constructed to shelter the monks during the rainy season, when it
became difficult for them to lead the wanderer’s life.
East Asian Art

The art forms of China, Korea, and Japan share many

cultural philosophical and religious associations.
Much pottery was made during the Neolithic phase
(5000 -1766 BC). Bronze ritual vessels are the most
impressive ancient Chinese art form.
was made during the Neolithic phase
(5000 -1766 BC).
Bronze ritual vessels
are the most impressive ancient Chinese art form.
Zhou bronzes
In the Zhou dynasty (1045-256 BC), Zhou bronzes gave way to a gentler, more
domestic form in Zhou ritual wares. Late Zhou art is imaginative and refined.
These bronzes are usually simple in shape and inlaid with gold, silver, and
semiprecious stone to form abstract curvilinear patterns or scenes of figures in
Great wall of China
It was constructed during the Qin dynasty
(221-207 BC)
Tomb for the Emperor
The tomb itself remains unexcavated. It lies within an inner wall and beneath a four-sided
pyramid mound that was originally landscaped to appear as a low, wooded mountain. The
interior is reputedly a vast underground palace that took about 700,000 conscripted workmen
more than 36 years to complete.
With the introduction of Buddhism, Artists began to
stress the human form. Emperors of the Northern Wei
dynasty initiated major temple-building campaigns.
The culmination of Buddhist are occurred early in the Tang
dynasty (618-906 BC) when artists created many classical forms,
notably figure painting. Tang artists worked in naturalistic modes,
producing vital but elegant images. The leading figure painter in
this period was Wu Daozi and the leading landscape painter was
Wang Wei.
Korea and Japan
Korean and Japanese artists have created their own native
approaches despite the strong influence of Chinese art. Korea and
Japan share the same artistic influence as that of China.

China influence like the following: bronze and porcelain

production, Buddhism teaching and influence, artistic and cultural
tradition spread throughout Korea and Japan and have been
evident in the art of Korea and Japan. Japanese and Korean artists
altered the manufacturing processes to achieve new aesthetic
The following are the distinctive features of the Korean art
through the different phases of its history:
Neolithic phase (c. 4000-1000 BC)
Comb pottery, also called combware, the pottery is made of
sandy clay, and its colour is predominantly reddish brown.
Bronze mirror with a 2nd century BC Bronze artifacts from
female human Yayoi dōtaku bronze Ceremonial giant dirk Daegok-ri, Hwasun,
figure at the base, bell. (1500–1300 BC). Korea

Bronze Age (c. 600-100 BC) found in tombs

Bells, mirrors and other ceremonial objects
Painting of Avalokiteshvara
(Bodhisattva who embodies
the compassion of all A smiling Rock- Buddha Sculpture at Seokguram
Buddhas) Hanging Silk Scroll carved triad buddha Cave World Heritage site, South
c.1310 Goryeo Dynasty in Seosan Baekje Korea. 8th century, Silla Dynasty

Three kingdoms period (c. 100 BC – 650 AD)

Buddhism influence
Silla period (668-918)
Numerous monasteries and temples were built during the Unified Silla period
(668-918). Sokkuram cave temple is near yungjo, the capital. Seated under a
dome in the main hall at Sokkuram is a massive stone Buddha (8th century),
carved at the apogee of Korean Buddhist sculpture.
Koryo dynasty (918-1392)
Also concentrated on Buddhist themes. Evident today are the
ceramic skills of koryo artists. Techniques of goldsmiths and lacquer
artists are detected in late koryo celadon.
Yi Dynasty (also known as Cho-son; 1393-1910)
Confucianism was encouraged and secular arts flourished. Inspiration of
Chinese literati was evident in painted plant and animal themes, as well as
landscapes. The most important surviving early Yi painting is the hand-scroll of
Dream Visit to the Peach Blossom Land (1447; Tenri Library, Tenri, Japan), a
fantastic landscape brushed by An Kyon for a royal sponsor.
The most popular pottery flourished during Yi dynasty, sturdy
stoneware covered with white slip.
Just like Korea, Japanese art also involved according the different
phases of Japanese history. Each historical period has its own
contribution in arts.
Jomon (8000-300 b.c)
Ritual ceramic pots with cord patterns and
sculpture elaboration
Yayoi (c. 300 b.c – 300 a.d)
Yayoi bronzes, inspired by mainland traditions, replaced
ceramic as ceremonial ware.
This haniwa represents a Shinto priestess who would
have presided over the funeral ceremony of a Yamato
chieftain. The figure is fragmentary: the arms are missing
and, like almost all extant haniwa, it has been
Haniwa warrior in keikō type armor reassembled from shards.

Kofun (300-552)
Surviving objects from this period include Haniwa,
unglazed clay cylinders topped with figures, which were
set around imperial tombs.
Asuka period (538-7100)
To massive state-sponsored projects in the Nara period (710-794) – Buddhism
reached Japan during this period with the cultural achievements of China and
Korea. Buddhist temples evolved during this period.
Horyu-ji (607; rebuilt 670)
Established by empress Suiko and Crown Prince Shotoku- the world’s
oldest standing wooden structure and a rare extant reflection of 6th-
century Chinese architecture.
Heian period (794-1185)
Luxurious, elegant images The Phoenix Hall in Uji (1053), built as a private chapel
for a regent of the Fujiwara family, is a prime example of Heian Buddhist
architecture. The emaki (illustrated handscroll) of the courtly romance the Tale of
Genji (early 20th century) is a masterpiece of secular painting.
Kamakura (1185-1333), Muromachi (1392-1573), Momoyama (1573-
1615) and Edo (1615-1868) periods
Fresh artistic developments were encouraged by the ruling family. An influx of
Chan (Zen) priests in the 14th and 15th centuries sparked the adoption of Chinese
ink painting styles. Kano school artists secularized and standardized Zen painting,
establishing themselves as official state painters.
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