Art Principles and History

Prehistoric Art

What is the art of Neolithic China?

In China, the Neolithic period lasted from 10,000 B.C.E. to 2,000 B.C.E. Multiple different cultural groups created art during this time, each with a distinctive style. The Yangshao culture (which developed along the Yellow River) produced painted pottery, before the invention of the potter’s wheel, by hand-coiling clay into a shape and then smoothing the edges and decorating the vessels with red and black paint using a brush. Most of these earthenware vessels were decorated with either animal motifs or complex abstract deigns. Another style of Neolithic pottery is associated with the Hemudu, Dawnekou, Longshan, and Liangzhu cultures, which were established across many regions of China. This style is known for tripod-shaped pottery and jade carving, one of the most important forms of art in China. Common forms of Neolithic jade include the bi (disk) and the cong, a short rectangular column with a hole through the center and decorated corners. Because of the lack of written records, the meaning of both the bi and the cong forms are unknown.


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