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Timelines of World Art: Asia

c. 1000–c. 1050

Fan Kuan paints one of the most famous Chinese paintings, Travellers among Mountains and Streams, which epitomizes the towering peaks, diminuitive figures and varied brushstrokes of the monumental landscape tradition. Read more...

c. 1020–c. 1029

King Vidyadhara commissions the Kandariya Mahadeva temple, a complex and richly decorated structure that exemplifies mature sacred architecture in central India. Read more...

c. 1020–1057

Japanese sculptor Jocho develops the joined-woodblock technique whereby a statue is made of several, hollowed-out sections joined together. This system makes it possible to make larger sculptures with a wider variety of postures that give them a greater sense of movement and dynamism. This method also ushers in the workshop system. Read more...

1036–1101

Su Shi, a renowned government official and poet, develops the idea of literati painting that emphasizes the expression of artistic spirit over capturing the physical appearance of the subject. This concept assumes paramount importance in later Chinese painting connoisseurship. Read more...

1072

Court painter Guo Xi's Early Spring captures a mountainous landscape suffused with the mists of the season, capturing a specific time and atmosphere in nature. Read more...

1086–1106

Artist, connoisseur and patron, Emperor Huizong assembles the finest painters in the country at the Hanlin Painting Academy. Chosen by means of an examination, these artists produce images for the court that set a standard that continues to influence artistic tastes throughout East Asia. Read more...

1086–1106

One of the world's most sublime and short-lived ceramic wares is made for Emperor Huizong's court. Ru ware has a thick and creamy greenish-blue glaze with a buttery texture coating thinly potted vessels with forms derived from nature. Read more...

c. 1100

The Cholas in southern India favour portable Hindu images cast in bronze. One of the most graceful and symbolically rich images is that of Shiva Nataraja, depicting the god performing the dance of destruction and creation. Read more...

c. 1100–c. 1150

The Buddhist monastery of Alchi in northern India is built, perhaps by the Tibetan teacher and 'great translator' Rinchen Sangpo. Situated in an isolated area, the treasure house remains intact and its murals of deities and mandalas are among the most complete. Read more...

c. 1105

King Kyanzittha builds Ananda temple in his capital of Pagan, Burma. Consisting of four shrines situated back-to-back, this large structure contains four colossal wood sculptures of the Buddha and a storehouse of rare sacred treasures. Read more...

c. 1120–1140

The earliest known illustration of the Tale of Genji is painted for the enjoyment of members of the imperial court. This series of paintings of scenes from the world's first novel is part of the beginning of the Japanese fondness for illustrated narratives. Read more...

c. 1150

Monumental images of Buddha are sculpted from the living rock at the monastery complex at Polonnaruva in Sri Lanka. Read more...

c. 1150

King Suryavarman II builds the magnificent temple-mountain of Angkor Vat, dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and expressive of his own position as god-king. Read more...

c. 1150– 1300s

Sanggam or inlaid celadon ware marks the technological peak of Korean ceramic production and epitomizes the elegance and sophistication of the Korean Koryo court. The Chinese court terms this ware 'first under Heaven'. Read more...

c. 1190–c. 1225

Court artist Ma Yuan paints delicate images of nature with soft colours and highly skilful brushwork that capture the philosophic and aesthetic interests of the Song dynasty. Read more...

1192

The Quwwat al-Islam Mosque is the first congregational mosque built in Delhi and incorporates such native characteristics as the use of sandstone and the decorative scrolling lotus motif. Read more...

1200–1500

Sculptors in Sukhothai, Thailand develop a distinctive type of free-standing walking Buddha. Rendered in bronze, the arms of these figures typically show one hand making a religious gesture (mudra) and the other moving in counterbalance. Read more...

c. 1260–c. 1280

Following his construction of several stupas for Kublai Khan in Tibet, Nepalese artist Arniko becomes director of the imperial workshops in Beijing and designs the famous White Pagoda, a stupa illustrating the fusion of Indian and Nepalese architectural styles. Read more...

c. 1300

Artist, scholar and government official Zhao Mengfu paints Autumn Colours on the Qiao and Hua Mountains, one of his landscape compositions in which he uses archaic imagery to develop a new kind of expressive painting style. Read more...

1351

The so-called 'David vases', once owned by Sir Percival David, are a pair of exceptionally large and dated vases made for a temple in China. They are a prime example of blue-and-white porcelain produced during the Yuan dynasty. Read more...

c. 1400–1404

The great conqueror Timur (also known as Tamerlane) is buried in Samarkand in the Gur-i Amir, which displays several features typical of architecture of that period, such as monumental size and colourful tiles. Read more...

1400–1600

The robust and bold designs of punch'ong wares develop from Korean potters' desire to capture the uniqueness and dynamism of nature. This stoneware, decorated with a pale green transparent glaze and white slip, has a profound effect on the evolution of ceramic production techniques and aesthetic tastes in Japan. Read more...

1406

Under the orders of Emperor Yongle, construction begins on the Forbidden City in Beijing. This extensive series of formal audience halls, workshops and residences remains the home of China's emperors until 1912. Read more...

1411

Iskandar Sultan is the first Timurid leader to patronize the arts of the book and commissions the great calligrapher Mahmud al-Hafiz al-Husayni to compile an illuminated anthology of poetry. Read more...

1450

A bottle dated to 1450 and painted with underglaze cobalt blue decoration in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul provides a time frame for the production in Vietnam of blue-and-white ceramics for domestic consumption and foreign trade, while also revealing the technical and stylistic influences of Chinese prototypes. Read more...

c. 1450

The dry-landscape garden of Ryoanji temple in Kyoto comprises 15 large rocks set amidst a bed of raked white gravel. Set outside the abbot's residence, this garden is constructed as an aid to Zen meditation. Read more...

c. 1463–1868

Supported by the country's most powerful military leaders, Kano Masanobu establishes Japan's most enduring and influential school of painting. The Kano school derives its style from a mastery of Chinese painting techniques adapted to form a uniquely Japanese style. Read more...

1576

Warlord Oda Nobunaga gives Kano Eitoku his most important commission, the decoration of the interior of Azuchi Castle. Eitoku develops a painting style that employs large formats, bold and rough brushwork and big forms that result in colourful and powerful images that impress his samurai patrons. Read more...

ca. 1580–1591

Master of the tea ceremony Sen no Rikyu develops the concept of wabicha, which values austerity, rusticity and naturalness. This aesthetic exerts a profound influence not just on the tea ceremony and arts associated with Zen Buddhism, but on Japanese culture as a whole. Read more...


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