Borlaza, Raisa Victoria H. 14 October 2015
BS Arch, 2012 24662 Art Studies 191 Lauzon
Beauty in the Chinese sense was dependent on two philosophies: Daoism and Confucianism. These two
perspectives served as the guiding principle into what beauty was, how art can be depict. However, overtime, these
two beliefs became more than just a guide, but as a stepping stone into widening the typical, traditional Chinese
Chinese aesthetics had its origins from two distinct themes in Chinese history: the alternation of medium
used in arts and the shifts from the philosophical ideas pertaining to the arts. One aesthetic theory that developed in
China was based on rituals and music. Chinese art forms are based from ancestral works. They take great respect in
their elders, making sure that their art style lives on. A skilled artist was measured based on his ability to replicate
and copy their ancestors art form, as stated in the Six Laws of Painting by Xie He. In terms of 3D art, sculptures of
various materials and pottery were all in accordance to ancestral worship, a means of ensuring that the dead live on
in the afterlife. There is also a sense of harmony and balance in Chinese art forms, similar to their concept of
duality--- of yin and yang. Music was a way of integrating harmony through the use of words and melodies. Theatre
arts became an art form in China as it depicted the reaction of audiences towards a certain Chinese art work. They
were no longer restricted to art that was inanimate, but could delve into an art that was dynamic and interactive
through music and drama.
We see how strict and rigid the early forms of Chinese art was, resulting into Chinese aesthetics that was
utilitarian or moralistic. There was always this need to unify and correlate. The Chinese saw life as a cycle, a
balance with nature. Their perception of beauty was based on this order, balance, and symmetry. This need for order
relates to Confucius beliefs, which again is a basis for Chinese art form. Because of how closely aesthetics was
connected to beliefs, it somehow became a measure for a well-lived life.
Influence from Buddhism also influence Chinese aesthetics, as it now started to become a matter of taste.
Along with Confucianism and Daoism, the integration of Buddhism in art and religion resulted into a new sense of
aesthetics--- one that focused less on pleasing the ancestors, but more on self-expression and personal depiction.
Therefore, aesthetics were seen as in forms of spheres or worlds, where it could be without passion or interest, but
also with feelings and emotions.
Upon the coming of Western influence, the concept of aesthetics was formally established in China.
Standards for these aesthetics came in the form of nature and art as a manifestation of culture. Still, these aesthetics
had its roots planted on either Daoism or Confucianism or a modification of the two.
Landscape painting was the central art form that depicted Chinese aesthetics. This type of painting is seen
as beautiful because of how it conformed to the Six Laws of Painting. These six laws were based on Taoist beliefs
of nature and tranquillity. Daoism thus became a tool in helping create aesthetics taste. Mountains and rockeries
were seen as a symbol of continuity. Similar to African aesthetics, this related to age over beauty, where
something that matures or continues for a long period of time is beauty.
Later on, paintings were accompanied by poetry. Paintings were seen as a depiction of not only of nature in
its most real and natural form, but also in its experiential sense. Aesthetics then evolved into a matter of taste. What
was important was the viewers response to the painting. Early forms of drama and theatre arts in Chinese culture
flourished because of how the scripts were based on the audiences response. In paintings, this encouraged
calligraphy and poetic appreciation; it allowed for proper discourse.
Art completes culture, as quoted by Zhang Yan Yuan. The perception of aesthetics is therefore influenced
by art and culture. Beauty is dependent on a cultures beliefs and ethics. What is special about Chinese aesthetics is
how it remained somehow pure, or how it did not mediate away from traditional Chinese art and beauty even with
Western influence. The Chinese were still open to foreign influence, such as Buddhism, but gave great value in what
their own perception of beauty was, even thinking of culture and art as a substitute for education and religion. It
came to a point were appreciation of beauty meant that the past had to serve the present, and the foreign influences
had to serve China. This strong background of ancestral heritage and respect, as well as Confucius and Taoist
beliefs, defined and strengthened the Chinese notion of beauty.