Yüan (dynastic styles and period)

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Scope note
Refers to a Chinese dynastic the culture, style, and period dating to 1279 to 1368. The dynasty was founded by the Mongol Kublai Khan (reigned 1260-1294), reuniting all of China into a empire that extended west as far as modern Poland and Hungary. While not great patrons of the arts, by reuniting China, expanding trade, and by not imposing stylistic demands, different traditions and influences were brought together and freely used. Innovations occurred particularly in the applied arts of porcelain and lacquer. During this time the Silk Route was reopened and Europe's interest in China began to develop. In response to foreign domination, educated Chinese withdrew into tradtions of their native past, with many scholars rejecting government service. The school of literati painting became dominant in the realm of painting, with artists emphasizing individual and calligraphic expression in contrast to the decorativeness of official painting. The most important Yuan masters were Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan, and Wang Meng, all of whom were literati objectors to Mongol rule. A noteworthy exception was Zhao Mengu, the most important Yüan calligrapher, who served the Mongols and was president of the Hanlin Academy. In the realm of ceramics, Middle Eastern influence stimulated exuberant blue-and-white decoration; Middle Eastern merchants also commissioned enormous Longquan celadons. Much Buddhist sculpture was commissioned during the Yüan period, with Tantric, multi-limbed figures revealing the Mongol preference for the lamaist art of Nepal and Tibet. The chiselling technique in silverwork, associated with the silversmith Zhu Bishan, developed at this time; Yüan carved lacquer was also produced. The Mongols made contributions to architecture, with the buildings of Beijing, the Mongol capital, built on a grand and massive scale; the city plan was adapted by the later Ming and Qing dynasties. The Yüan dynasty declined after the death of Kublai Khan.
Accepted term: 20-May-2024