Chinese Scroll Paintings

The history of Chinese scroll paintings proves to us that China is indeed a culture of ~5,000 years old civilization. More so, Chinese paintings are considered the oldest artistic tradition that exists hitherto. The art of painting for Chinese civilization is described as the highlight when we talk about aesthetics.

Since scrolls can be either a roll of papyrus, parchment or paper which can be painted upon, Chinese had taken advantage of its purpose in conveying and recording information and in decorating their potteries, walls, and other means of writing the earliest Chinese characters that began as pictographs or pictures.

The earliest paintings gathered were diverse and mainly consisted of patterns and designs which can be also described as ornamental. The Stone Age pottery artifacts collected were painted and decorated with spiral, zigzags, dots or animals. Furthermore special brushes and inks were used to paint such designs which however are the same tools in making scrolls.

Inspirational messages and words were also painted apart from the designs and images found in the environment. China has had great and skilled painters particularly in Zhejang where the form of scroll paintings originated. Ditto, Zheijang University students continue to practice this ancient tradition and they were trained to make scroll paintings by the skilled painters of their University.

China embellishes the connection and relationship between the brush and the ink as tools in making scroll paintings. One example of how art was used in ancient China is the hand painted scroll. Though there had been many formats used in Chinese scroll painting, the horizontal hand scroll was very distinct and which can be opened and unrolled from right to left, so that the information painted on it will be seen as one fragment at a time.

One of the typical materials for scroll painting is silk long before the discovery of paper. Since one of the qualities of silk is its non-absorbance, the practice of lingering, deliberate and premeditated method of painting on silk was observed. After some time, early papers in the form of rice straw, bark, reeds, bamboo and others became predominant in making paint scrolls since these materials were already absorbent. This quality of the innovated papers led to another practice in scroll painting.

Paintings were now crafted out of spontaneity hence the development of instinctive-made paintings. In some instances, paintings were done in rice paper or commonly known as Xuan paper, which was very light hence; wooden rods were attached on the scrolls to thwart the rolling up of the paper.

Another format used in Chinese paint scrolls was the vertical form resulted in vertical hanging scrolls. Compared to the horizontal paint scrolls, vertical scrolls offer the viewers a greater chance to get closer or intimate with this so called form of art. In this form, details were observed and scrutinized more.

The Chinese tradition through Chinese paint scrolls had educated the world when it comes to creating landscapes which were often the subject of their painting through the years.

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