Early China Shaman Riding a Dragon Silk Banner


Man Riding on a Dragon
3rd C BCE
painting on silk
Zhou Dynasty

outline and color method

Man Riding on a Dragon
3rd C BCE
painting on silk
Zhou Dynasty
Qin, Chariot  221-207BCE
from the tomb of Qin Shihuangdi 
(The First Emperor of Qin)

Umbrella is a luxury item probably denoting his class.The Umbrella is a symbol of spiritual authority and charity.

Fish (Yu)
Fish in Chinese sounds like the word for "Abundance and Affluence" so the fish symbolizes wealth. Fish shown with a lotus blossom symbolize "Year after Year may you live in Affluence".

Heron (Lu)
Heron in Chinese sounds a lot like the word for "path or way". A painting of a heron and a lotus has the meaning of "May your path be always upward".

Dragon (Long)
One of the most complex and multi-tiered Chinese symbols. The dragon is a good natured and benign creature. A symbol of male vigor and fertility, the dragon is also a symbol of the Emperor, the Son of Heaven. Paintings often show two dragons playing in the clouds with a ball or large pearl.


 Shang and Zhou Dynasties

5,000-2,000 BCENeolithicBeginning of agriculture: painted pottery

Yangshao (Painted Pottery) Culture 5000-4000

Banpo 4000

Banshan 2200

Longshan (Black Pottery)
Culture 2500-2000

Catal Huyuk
Lyre of Puabi
Pyramids in Egypt
Pictographs and invention of Cuneiform
Sargon of Akkad
Stele of Naram-Sin
Tell Asmar
c1700-221 BCEBronze Age
Warring States Period
Shang dynasty; 
Chou (Zhou) dynasty
Shang 1700-1100 BCE
Zhou 1100-221 BCE dynasties; 
  • development of writing
  • bronze casting
  • Confucius c551-479 (Analects)
  • Developed philosophies leading to Taoism
  • Chuang Tzu (Chuang Chou) Butterfly
  • Lao Tzu (Codified Writings)
  • Iron Tools
Code of Hammurabi
Olmec in America
Golden Age of Perikles
Rome Begins
c221- 206 BCEQin  (Chin) dynasty
  • Unification 
  • Centralized Bureaucracy
  • standardized money, written language, 
  • clay figures, 
  • Great Wall
  • Legalism introduced
  • Shan Yang c360 "Man is by nature evil"
  • Han Feizi c233 codified the system
Rome Begins
206 BCE-220CE Han dynasty
  • Silk Road 
  • Taoism
  • Confucianism made state philosophy
  • Buddhism Introduced
Rise of Christianity
220 - 579 CESix Dynasties
North, East and West Wei, 
Nomad Invasions,
Buddhism Grows
Rock Cut Caves
Monumental Buddhas
Birth of Mohammed
Edict of Milan
Hagia Sofia
Separation of Churches
568 - 617 CESuiReunification of China
618-907Tang dynastyRepression of Buddhism
960-1279 CESong (Sung) dynastyNeo Confucianism
Landscape Painting Develops


Shang Dynasty    1700 BCE - 1100 BCE
Zhou Dynasty 1100 BCE - 221 BCE


Oracle Bones
14th to 12th C BCE
Bronze Age
Form:  This particular oracle bone is part of a turtle's shell.  However other bones have been found with writing on them from other animals.  The bone has early Chinese pictographs incised on it.  The bone is cracked and has scorch marks on it.

Iconography:  The bones represent both a question and an answer.  They were used as divinitory tools (for fortune telling.)  The characters or pictographs are each symbols that represent a concept that when strung together form a question. 

Context:  These bones contain some of the earliest forms of Chinese writing known.  The bones were tools that were used by shamans to answer questions. I have come across two versions of how they were used.

1)A question was carved upon the bone.  Then the bone was heated until it cracked.  The shamans read the crack and interpreted the answer. 

2) Then the bone was heated until it cracked.  The shamans read the crack and interpreted the answer. The writing was then incised on the bone as a record of the question and the answer.

These bones give us our first view of the development of Chinese writing and are also an excellent record of some of the ideas, questions and concerns of early Chinese culture.

Writing represents spoken language. Spoken language consists of sounds, while writing is a string of symbols representing those sounds. In Chinese, each symbol stands for an entire word, unlike in alphabetic scripts where a sequence of individual letters signifies the word. This means that, more or less, every word in the Chinese language is written with a different symbol.

The earliest symbols in the development of Chinese writing were pictographic, that is they graphically depicted certain objects. The symbol for the word "dog" was a picture of a dog, the symbol for the word "tiger" was a picture of a tiger, etc. It is important to emphasize, however, that despite their graphic resemblance, these symbols were secondary to the sound value of words in spoken language. Later on, additional symbols were developed mainly on the basis of phonetic similarities between words.

As a curiosity, below are some characters from around VII-III centuries BCE written in a calligraphic style that emphasizes their origin. Below each symbol there is the modern form of the character which evolved from the original pictographic version.

(Left to right)

  1. Ji - chicken.
  2. Yang - sheep. A symbolic representation of a sheep head with horns.
  3. Fu - bat.
  4. Gui - turtoise.
  5. Yu - fish.

(Left to right)

  1. Zhi - to stop. A picture of two feet, one behind the other. The second foot is placed at a right angle indicating that the person has stopped. Compare with the next symbol showing a walking person.
  2. Bu - to walk. Two feet in succession indicating a person walking forward.
  3. Xiang - elephant.
  4. Hu - tiger.
  5. Shi - house. A house with a pointed roof and foundation.

(Left to right)

  1. Xi - rhino.
  2. Lu - deer.
  3. Ma - horse.
  4. Quan - dog.
  5. Qi - banner. A pole with strips in the wind.

The preceding was quoted from

Royal Tomb of Fu Hao
1460 BCE - 1050 BCE
Zhengzhou, China
Shang Dynasty
Bronze Age
13' x 18'
Aerial view
Form:  This site is thirteen feet by eighteen feet.  It contains the royal copse, sixteen humans, six dogs, bronzes, carved jade, carved stone, carved bone, and cowrie shells.

Iconography:  Cowrie shells are iconographic of money because they were the currency of the time.  The grave site is iconographic of an afterlife because of all the things this person has buried with her and all she hopes to take with her.

Context:  Some of these grave sites were sixty feet deep, so this one is not that large but compared to Chinese burials before the Shang dynasty it is very large.  It is the only royal Shang tomb that ha been found undisturbed.  We can assume from what was found in this limited space tomb what might have been found in some of the bigger tombs.


1180 BCE 
Anyang, China 
Shang Dynasty
Bronze Age
Fu Hao's tomb
Style V

Piece and Mold Technique

Context:  Vessels such as this one were found buried in tombs such as the Tomb of  Fu Hao from the Shang Dynasty.  The use and creation of these vessels continued on into the Zhou Dynasty however, they were not always used in burials.  The function for both vessels would have been to hold or cook food for a sacrifice.  The smoke rising off of the vessel would have been for the spirit of the diseased and then the cooked food would have been eaten by the living.

The creation of such vessels shows a complexity of design as well as technology in terms of bronze casting.

Process:  The artist would make a model of what he wanted the bronze to look like out of clay.  He would then let it dry until it was very hard.  Next, moist clay was placed over the dried model and allowed to harden.  This layer, when dry, was cut away into easily reassemble pieces, and fired.  The model, the first piece made, was then shaved down to serve as the core for the fired mold.  Then everything was reassembled, with bronze spacers holding up the core.  Then the entire thing was covered in clay and a hole was cut, into which the artist could pour the hot, liquid bronze.  Next, the bronze was poured and when it was cooled the cast was broken, revealing the bronze sculpture.

Internet Site of Interest:

Form:  Some of these vessels weighed 200 to 300 pounds.  The ornamentation on them is fairly complex and stylized and uses compound imagery very similar to that of the art from the Kwakiutl and Tlingit cultures.  The relief images on the front are fairly geometricized.  They represent two stylized dragon or monster faces (called t'ao-t'ieh also spelled taotie) which are mirror images of each other. Half of the taotie has been outlined in red, the other design motifs, the leiwen thunder design in turquoise and kui dragon in yellow.

The manner in which it is



Iconography:  The iconography of the vessel itself is that it represents a form of wealth in the guise of conspicuous consumption.  The individual component of the taotie mask is less clear.  The kui dragon is often a symbol of good fortune and of royalty and the leiwen thunder design may relate to animist beliefs.

One of my best students ever, Sue Che comments,

Tao-tie in the ancient Chinese mythology is a monster who eats people. For certain reasons, people like to put its face/figure on the Ding, a cooking vessel such as the one we see here. One theory is that the ancient Chinese might think if they cook food inside the Ding with tao-tie's face symbolized that the monster is full of food so it won't eat people anymore. Even today, a person who likes gourmet food is called 'lao-tao'.
". . . .Most of the bronze objects of the Shang and Zhou were ritual vessels used in sacrificial ceremonies to make offerings to one’s ancestors, or were inscribed with records of military exploits and victories. It was also the custom in those days to slaughter prisoners of war for sacrificial purposes, and to kill and even eat one’s enemies. The creed then was: ‘He who is not of my own clan must be an enemy at heart.’ The man-eating taotie was therefore a supremely appropriate symbol of those times.

    "According to Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals: Prophecy, ‘The taotie on Zhou bronzes has a head but no body. When it eats people, it does not swallow them, but harms them.’* It is hard to explain what is implied in this, as so many myths concerning the taotie have been lost, but the indication that it eats people accords fully with its cruel, fearful countenance. To alien clans and tribes, it symbolized fear and force; to its own clan or tribe, it was a symbol of protection. This religious concept, this dual nature, was crystallized in its strange, hideous features. What appears so savage today had a historical, rational quality in its time. It is for precisely this reason that the savage old myths and legends, the tales of barbarism, and the crude, fierce, and terrifying works of art of ancient clans possessed a remarkable aesthetic appeal. As it was with Homer’s epic poems and African masks, so it was with the taotie, in whose hideous features was concentrated a deep-seated historic force. It is because of this irresistible historic force that the mystery and terror of the taotie became the beautiful—the exalted."

*footnote by Li Zehou: "Some scholars consider that the meaning of taotie is not ‘eating people’ but making a mysterious communication between people and Heaven (gods)."

This excerpt is from The Path of Beauty: A Study of Chinese Aesthetics by Li Zehou, translated by Gong Lizeng.New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. pages 30-31. The hard-bound copy has some of the most beautiful reproductions available. The text should be required reading for anyone interested in Chinese culture.

According to the Brittanica,
Pinyin LONG (Chinese: "dragon"), in Chinese mythology, a type of majestic beast that dwells in rivers, lakes, and oceans and roams the skies. Originally a rain divinity, the Chinese dragon, unlike its malevolent European counterpart (see dragon), is associated with heavenly beneficence and fecundity. Rain rituals as early as the 6th century BC involved a dragon image animated by a procession of dancers; similar dances are still practiced in traditional Chinese communities to secure good fortune.

Ancient Chinese cosmogonists defined four types of dragons: the Celestial Dragon (T'ien Lung), who guards the heavenly dwellings of the gods; the Dragon of Hidden Treasure (Fu Tsang Lung); the Earth Dragon (Ti Lung), who controls the waterways; and the Spiritual Dragon (Shen Lung), who controls the rain and winds. In popular belief, only the latter two were significant; they were transformed into the Dragon Kings (Lung Wang), gods who lived in the four oceans, delivered rain, and protected seafarers.

Generally depicted as a four-legged animal with a scaled, snakelike body, horns, claws, and large, demonic eyes, the lung was considered the king of animals, and his image was appropriated by Chinese emperors as a sacred symbol of imperial power.
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.


Fang Ding from Fu Hao's tomb
1180 BCE - 1168 BCE
Anyang, China
Shang Dynasty
Bronze Age
Style V

Rubbing from the Fang Ding at left

One of my students explained to me that fu means woman and hao means good.  Therefore this pictogram and the tomb are the tomb of the "good woman."

Form: This is a typical bronze vessel from the Shang Dynasty and contains the  taotie, leiwen and kui dragon in yellow.  Inscribed on the vessel is an inscription that uses pictogram. The pictogram consists of a symmetrical design.  At the center of the design is the pictogram for a child.  Directly above the child pictograph is a broom and bracketing the child are two pictograms that represent woman.

Iconography: The pictogram represents the concept of the mother or "good wife."  It is interesting to note that the individual icons, a child, a woman and a broom, link the idea of child rearing and cleaning as part of the roles of women in Shang culture.

Context:  Beginning in the Shang Dynasty the ritualized vessel began to be inscribed with pictographs that described or dedicated the vessels.  By the Zhou Dynasty these inscriptions became quite verbose.  The vessel on the left made for Fu Hao, contains the inscription with her name "the good wife", which was symbolized by archaic characters composed of women flanking a child and framed by a broom above).


Yo Vessel
1766 BCE - 1045 BCE
Shang Dynasty
Bronze Age
Form:  This is a zoomorphic piece, mainly in the form of a bear or tiger resting on its feet and tail.  There is a deer on its head and the handle is made out of serpents and a boar head.  There is a dragon on its side and more snakes on its legs.  It is also hugging, eating, or holding a man.  It is very highly decorated, wherever there is not an animal there swirls, blocks, and designs in low relief.    It was created using the piece and mold technique.

Iconography:  This vessel could be iconographic of man's animal side, the perils of the hunt, our interconnectedness with nature, or the constant changes in life.

Context:  This design is unprecedented in neolithic Chinese sculpture.  Normally, most of these vessels are an example of schema and correction.  But this piece with it's heavy decoration, it's zoomorphic form and it's depiction of a human is very unique.


Gong Vessel 
1300 BCE - 1100 BCE 
Anyang, China 
Shang Dynasty
Bronze Age
Form:  This vessel is also zoomorphic.  It has eyes of a tiger, horns of a ram, and a bird beak at its back end.  Less noticeable are rabbits, elephants, and fish.  It was made using the piece and mold technique.  It is heavily ornamented and has other smaller designs all over the piece.

Iconography:  It is iconographic of all of the animals it represents and the ritual it was used in.

Context:  It was used for a ceremonial purpose.  It would have probably held some sort of liquid.

Marquis Yi of Zeng Bells
433 BCE
Zhou Dynasty
Bronze Age
9' x 25'
No clappers 
Form:  The bells very in size from small to large.  The taotie is on front and back of each bell.  The bars that the bells are hung off of are decorated as well.  The bells were made with the lost wax process.  (See the diagram below this section.)

Iconography:  They are iconographic of the preferences of the society and the importance of music to the society.  In later Buddhist art the bell is one of the Buddhist symbols
and this could be an early form of this symbolism.  The bell in Buddhist art implies respect, veneration, signals, martial enthusiasm.  The sound disperses evil spirits.

Context:  Each of these bells has two tones one found in the middle and the other at the bottom of the bell.  It would have taken several musicians moving around the bells to play them.  Music rituals and the performance of them were important to the wealthy society.

In 1978, 124 musical instruments were unearthed from the fifth-century tomb of the Marquis Yi of Zeng in what is now Hubei Province in eastern China. Among them was a set of 65 bronze bells, which are considered to be among the finest relics of the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.). The central bell bears an inscription that indicates it was a gift to Marquis Yi from King Hui of Chu and cast in 433 B.C., the year the Marquis was buried. The bells are believed to have been played in court rituals to ensure the posterity of the imperial reign.

In 1977, excavators in Hubei Province found a remarkably rich and undisturbed tomb. Inscriptions on some of the bronzes indicated that it belonged to Yi, marquis of the State of Zeng (Zenghou Yi in Chinese) and dated to about 433 BC in the Warring States Period. The existence of the State of Zeng was unknown until 1977, and it remains somewhat enigmatic. The tomb is 21 meters from west to east and 16.5 meters from north to south, covering about 220 square meters. About 15,404 articles were unearthed, mainly including bronze ritual vessels, musical instruments, weapons, chariots, jade, lacquer wares, and bamboo articles, etc.

Originally sunk to a depth of 13 meters, the tomb was packed with charcoal, and the shaft filled with clay, stone slabs, and earth. The durability of these materials, and the fact that the tomb became waterlogged, left it in a remarkable state of preservation, enabling archaeologists to determine precisely how goods were distributed in the four chambers. These chambers mirrored the arrangement of the marquis' palace during his life.

The eastern chamber, representing his private quarters, contained his own lacquered double coffin, the coffins of eight young women (ages thirteen to twenty-four) who were probably concubines or musicians to entertain Yi in the afterlife, and a dog buried in its own coffin. The chamber also contained weapons, a chariot, and many personal items, including furniture, a zither, silk, and vessels -- though not bronze vessels. The central chamber seems to have corresponded to the ceremonial hall of Yi's palace. Inside, was a large set of bronze bells and other instruments, together with bronze ritual vessels. The northern chamber served as an armory and storeroom, the western chamber, where thirteen more young women were buried, as servants' quarters.

The marquis' tomb illustrates a transition from tomb traditions that replicated the ritual environment of ancestral temples to a new conception of the tomb as a recreation of the deceased's earthly existence.

Zeng Houyi Bells

It is the largest set of bronze bells excavated in the world. It comprises 65 bells in various sizes, with each bell producing two different tones when struck. There are three levels, with the smallest bells suspended on the highest level and the largest ones on the bottom section. The bells cover roughly 5 octaves and the middle 3 octaves produces 12 semitones each. There is an inscription on each bell that records events, musical theories and the sound the particular bell products. From historical records and other materials, it is concluded that there are probably five performers involved in the playing of the bells, with two standing in front of the set playing the larger bells with long poles and three behind playing the smaller bells with smaller sticks.

The bell right in the centre of the lowest level and not suspended at an oblique angle was a gift from king Hui of Chu to Yi, the Marquis of Zeng State, as recorded in the inscription on it. The inscription also states that the bell was cast in the 56th year of the reign of King Hui (433BC), the year of the burial of Marquis Yi. The State of Zeng was a vassal state of Chu and was under the same cultural sphere.

The bells were made with thecire perdue or lost wax process.   The process is referred to as lost wax not because we have lost the process, but because the figure is originally sculpted from wax which is lost in the process.  The original is encased in clay.  Two drainage holes are placed in the clay and when the clay is heated, the wax runs out of the hole leaving a cavity.  Bronze is then poured into the cavity and when the bronze cools the clay mold is broken open revealing the bronze sculpture.  Since the bronze is a fairly soft metal, details can be etched and molded while the bronze is cool.

For large hollow sculptures the process is different.  See this diagram.


Man Riding on a Dragon
3rd C BCE
Zhou Dynasty
Bronze Age
Form:  It is made out of silk and is monochromatic.  The image is very flat.  It is drawn in profile and has no sense of depth.  There is no shading and it is drawn using the "outline and color" method.  Outline and color are literally what they say.  The artist would outline the object/s and then paint in the color as in a coloring book.  The thickness and thinness of the lines does not vary very much.

Iconography:  This image is probably iconographic of a dead man riding into heaven.  The dragon on which he rides is a symbol of luck and the umbrella is a luxury item probably denoting his class.

Umbrella is a luxury item probably denoting his class.The Umbrella is a symbol of spiritual authority and charity.

Fish (Yu)
Fish in Chinese sounds like the word for "Abundance and Affluence" so the fish symbolizes wealth. Fish shown with a lotus blossom symbolize "Year after Year may you live in Affluence".

Heron (Lu)
Heron in Chinese sounds a lot like the word for "path or way". A painting of a heron and a lotus has the meaning of "May your path be always upward".

Dragon (Long)
One of the most complex and multi-tiered Chinese symbols. The dragon is a good natured and benign creature. A symbol of male vigor and fertility, the dragon is also a symbol of the Emperor, the Son of Heaven. Paintings often show two dragons playing in the clouds with a ball or large pearl.


Context:  Calligraphy was a thriving art in China.  This paining on silk has some of the same qualities as calligraphy, with its flowing brush strokes and different thicknesses of lines but it does not yet have the beauty of calligraphy.


Bi Disk 
500 BCE - 400 BCE 
Zhou Dynasty
Bronze Age
Jade 6.5"
Form:  It features stylized dragons and is made of jade.  It is circular and features piecework.

Iconography:  This disk may have been an icon for the circle of heaven.  It is an icon of patience, diligence, beauty, and hard work. The dragons are symbols of good fortune and a rulers ability to meditate and thus transcend between heaven and earth.

Context:  Jade is a semi-precious stone but if it's worked the labor that goes into it is what makes it precious. Jade was used to make various objects including axes (ceremonial pieces).  Rubbing a stone against jade was one way of polishing it.  To make this piece involves sawing, grinding, polishing, and drilling.  Jade is very hard and it is not possible to simply carve it a one would wood.

Confucius- (Con-fu-tzu)
(translation means: great thinker and teacher)

A disciple asked Confucius, saying, "Why, sir, does the superior man value jade much more highly than serpentine? Is it because jade is scarce and serpentine abundant?"

"It is not," replied Confucius; "but it is because of the superior men of olden days regarded it as a symbol of the virtues. Its gentle, smooth, glossy appearance suggests charity of the heart; its fine close texture and hardness suggests wisdom; it is firm and yet does not wound, suggesting duty to one's neighbor; it hangs down as though sinking, suggesting ceremonystruck, it gives a clear note, long drawn out, dying gradually away and suggesting music; its flaws do not hide its excellencies, nor do its excellencies hide its flaws, suggesting loyalty; it gains our confidence, suggesting truth; its spirituality is like the bright rainbow, suggesting the heavens above; its energy is manifested in hill and stream, suggesting the earth below; as articles of regalia it suggests the exemplification of that than there is nothing in the world of equal value, and thereby is-TAO itself.


Composite animals:     Are animals with different parts of other animals in them.  Ex:  In Disney's Pete's Dragon, the dragon, Elliot, has the head of a camel, the neck of a crocodile, the ears of a cow, and he is both a fish and a mammal.

Confucius (Con-fu-tzu):     (translation means: great thinker and teacher)  Confucius was a chinese philosopher from the Zhou (also spelled Chou) Dynasty.  Confucius described jade as a metaphor for a superior person: In jade “superior men in ancient times found the likeness of all excellent qualities.  It was soft, smooth, and glossy (when polished) like benevolence; fine, compact, and strong, like intelligence; angular, but not sharp and cutting, like righteousness; and (when struck), like music.  Like loyalty, its flaws did not conceal its beauty nor its beauty its flaws, and like virtue, it was conspicuous in the symbols of rank.”  (Gardner's pg. 496)


ka.o.lin n [F kaolin, fr. Gaoling hill in China] (ca. 1741): a fine usu. white clay that is used in ceramics and refractories, as a filler or extender, and in medicine esp. as an adsorbent in the treatment of diarrhea 

according to the Brittanica, is also called China Clay, soft white clay that is an essential ingredient in the manufacture of china and porcelain and is widely used in the making of paper, rubber, paint, and many other products. Kaolin is named after the hill in China (Kao-ling) from which it was mined for centuries. Samples of kaolin were first sent to Europe by a French Jesuit missionary around 1700 as examples of the materials used by the Chinese in the manufacture of porcelain.

In its natural state kaolin is a white, soft powder consisting principally of the mineral kaolinite, which, under the electron microscope, is seen to consist of roughly hexagonal, platy crystals ranging in size from about 0.1 micrometre to 10 micrometres or even larger. These crystals may take vermicular and booklike forms, and occasionally macroscopic forms approaching millimetre size are found. Kaolin as found in nature usually contains varying amounts of other minerals such as muscovite, quartz, feldspar, and anatase. In addition, crude kaolin is frequently stained yellow by iron hydroxide pigments. It is often necessary to bleach the clay chemically to remove the iron pigment and to wash it with water to remove the other minerals in order to prepare kaolin for commercial use.

When kaolin is mixed with water in the range of 20 to 35 percent, it becomes plastic (i.e., it can be molded under pressure), and the shape is retained after the pressure is removed. With larger percentages of water, the kaolin forms a slurry, or watery suspension. The amount of water required to achieve plasticity and viscosity varies with the size of the kaolinite particles and also with certain chemicals that may be present in the kaolin. Kaolin has been mined in France, England, Saxony (Germany), Bohemia (Czech Republic), and in the United States, where the best-known deposits are in the southeastern states.

Approximately 40 percent of the kaolin produced is used in the filling and coating of paper. In filling, the kaolin is mixed with the cellulose fibre and forms an integral part of the paper sheet to give it body, colour, opacity, and printability. In coating, the kaolin is plated along with an adhesive on the paper's surface to give gloss, colour, high opacity, and greater printability. Kaolin used for coating is prepared so that most of the kaolinite particles are less than two micrometres in diameter.

Kaolin is used extensively in the ceramic industry, where its high fusion temperature and white burning characteristics makes it particularly suitable for the manufacture of whiteware (china), porcelain, and refractories. The absence of any iron, alkalies, or alkaline earths in the molecular structure of kaolinite confers upon it these desirable ceramic properties. In the manufacture of whiteware the kaolin is usually mixed with approximately equal amounts of silica and feldspar and a somewhat smaller amount of a plastic light-burning clay known as ball clay. These components are necessary to obtain the proper properties of plasticity, shrinkage, vitrification, etc., for forming and firing the ware. Kaolin is generally used alone in the manufacture of refractories.

Substantial tonnages of kaolin are used for filling rubber to improve its mechanical strength and resistance to abrasion. For this purpose, the clay used must be extremely pure kaolinite and exceedingly fine grained. Kaolin is also used as an extender and flattening agent in paints. It is frequently used in adhesives for paper to control the penetration into the paper. Kaolin is an important ingredient in ink, organic plastics, some cosmetics, and many other products where its very fine particle size, whiteness, chemical inertness, and absorption properties give it particular value.

Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Laozi (Lao-tzu):     Laozi was another philosopher & poet from around the same period.  Developed Taoism (Taoism) (following the way).  He questions the nature of reality.  Laozi woke from a dream of being a butterfly and wondered if the butterfly was dreaming of being him.

Lost wax process:     See page on Roman Art and Architecture.

Monochromatic:     Meaning one color.  It can be varying shades of one color though.

por.ce.lain n [MF porcelaine cowrie shell, porcelain, fr. It porcellana, fr. porcello vulva, lit., little pig, fr. L porcellus, dim. of porcus pig, vulva; fr. the shape of the shell--more at farrow] (ca. 1530): a hard, fine-grained, sonorous, nonporous, and usu. translucent and white ceramic ware that consists essentially of kaolin, quartz, and feldspar and is fired at high temperatures -- adj -- or adj 
porcelain enamel n (1883): a fired-on opaque glassy coating on metal (as steel) 

According to the Brittanica, porcelain is a,

vitrified pottery with a white, fine-grained body that is usually translucent, as distinguished from earthenware, which is porous, opaque, and coarser. The distinction between porcelain and stoneware, the other class of vitrified pottery material, is less clear. In China, porcelain is defined as pottery that is resonant when struck; in the West, it is a material that is translucent when held to the light. Neither definition is totally satisfactory; some heavily potted porcelains are opaque, while some thinly potted stonewares are somewhat translucent. The word porcelain is derived from porcellana, used by Marco Polo to describe the pottery he saw in China.

Outline and color:     Is outlining something and then coloring it in.  Similar to a coloring book.

Piecework:     Carving entirely through the piece of jade. 

Tao-tie (t'ao-t'ieh):     In modern Chinese it means "ogre mask".
according to the Brittanica,

Pinyin TAOTIE awesome monster mask commonly found on Chinese ritual bronze vessels and implements of the Shang (18th-12th century Bc) and early Chou (1111-c. 900 BC) dynasties. It characteristically consists of a zoomorphic mask in full face that simultaneously may be divided through the nose ridge of the centre to form profile views of two one-legged beasts (k'uei dragons) confronting each other. A ground pattern of squared spirals, the "thunder pattern" (lei-wen), often serves as a design filler between and around the larger features of the design.

Typical features of the mask include large, protuberant eyes; stylized depictions of eyebrows, horns, nose crest, ears, and two peripheral legs; and a line of a curled upper lip with exposed fangs and no lower jaw. Since it suggests an ever-devouring "glutton," it was probably this last feature that later (3rd century BC) inspired the name t'ao-t'ieh for the ancient monster motif. The function of the t'ao-t'ieh motif has been variously interpreted; it may be totemic, or protective, or an abstracted, symbolic representation of the forces of nature. After the early Chou period, the t'ao-t'ieh mask motif was supplanted by a monster that was similar but depicted more literally and with diminished power. 
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Zoomorphic:     Is having the form of an animal.  Is being a deity conceived of in animal form or with the attributes of an animal. 

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