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Chinese History - Sui Dynasty 隋 (581-618)
arts

After three hundred years of disunion the Sui Dynasty reunited northern and southern China, and traditions that had developed their own shapes and appearance, found together. Southern and northern traditions and styles of philosophy, literature, language, music, arts, and so on, started to merge and united two hitherto separated traditions to one new.
Calligraphy: The south revered and copied the style of Wang Xizhi 王羲之 and his son Wang Xianzhi 王獻之 that was held in a cursive type (xingshu 行書, caoshu 草書), while the north followed the tradition of the more regular and strict chancery script (lishu 隸書) of the Han and Cao-Wei 曹魏 periods. The southern style became widespread throughout the empire during Sui through the calligraphers Wang Bao 王褒 and Zhao Wenyuan 趙文淵 (Zhao Wenshen 趙文深).
Architecture: The oldest still extant segment arch stone bridge of China, the Anji Bridge 安濟橋 near Zhaozhou 趙州 (modern Zhaoxian 趙縣/Hebei), was constructed by the Sui period architect Li Chun 李春. One of the few remnants of Sui period buildings are the richly decorated cubic pagoda of Xiuding Monastery 修定寺 near Anyang 安陽/Henan that is covered with many thousand relief tiles, and the likewise four-gate cubic pagoda with a pyramid roof of the Shentong Monastery 神通寺 near Licheng 歷城/Shandong that is the oldest pavilion-shaped pagoda of China. A small decorative stone pagoda with several storeys and the typical pending roofs can be seen in the Qixia Monastery 栖霞寺 near Nanjing 南京/Jiangsu.
Painting: The tradition of wallpainting in Dunhuang 敦煌 was pursued during the decades of the Sui Dynasty, and we have preserved some of the best paintings and Bodhisattva statues in the Buddhist grottoes of Dunhuang, dating from the Sui period. Chinese landscape painting just begins in the Sui period. It has its origin clearly in the tradition of the southern literati that withdrew to clauses within the mountians and enjoyed the beauty of nature and the pureness of the natural world as contrast to the obligements of the official career. One of the oldest extant landscape paintings - although only as a copy - is the painting "Wandering around in springtime" (Youchuntu 游春圖) by Zhan Ziqian 展子虔.
Clay figurines: There are preserved some wonderful pottery figurines of warriors from the Sui period that still show the influence of the Northern Dynasties period, but the Sui figurines are much more detailed and lively than its forerunners. Pottery vessels from the Sui period are covered with translucent or light green glazing like during the time of division, and not yet with the three coloured glazing à la mode during the Tang period. The shape of the vessels is also still dependent on the tradition of the north - attached eyes for hanging up the vessels - and the south - attached dragon-shaped handles and decorations.
In the Maijishan Grottoes 麥積山石窟 in Gansu province, some of the stone steles of Bodhisattvas were made during the Sui peirod. The most important Sui period Pusa statue is a standing more than 2 m tall Guanyin Pusa 觀音菩薩 preserved in the Boston Museum of Art and discovered in Xi'an 西安/Shaanxi, the old capital Chang'an 長安.

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  © 2000 ff · Ulrich Theobald · Mail