The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Chinese Art from the Sui to the Yuan Dynasties, C. 589–1368

Who were the literati?

The literati, or wenren in Chinese, were highly educated, scholar-painters often held in higher regard than the imperial court painters of the time because of their free-thinking intellectuality and because they did not rely on their art to make a living. Emerging during the Song Dynasty, the literati are known for their relatively austere black ink paintings, created using a painting technique called shi mo. They were also highly skilled calligraphers and poets.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Art History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App