Hierarchy of Chinese Art

Chinese ancient art, inclusive of paintings, are mostly consist of objects which were put to practical usage in those days. Others were stored away and only brought out on special occasions. In fact, those artwork produced by the olden Chinese, were classified into different hierarchy. The quality differ greatly, if Chinese artworks for emperor and those made for scholarly elites, for ordinary people or for furnishing tombs or temples.

Below I have listed out the traditional hierarchy of Chinese art, starting from the most popular and prestigious in early times.

  1. Landscape paintings and calligraphy writings. Using ink on paper
  2. Figure paintings, including birds, flowers and insect paintings
  3. Religious paintings of Tang Dynasty. Ink and colors on silk. Art for Buddhist temples
  4. Hand-scroll paintings of Yuan Dynasty.
  5. Jade craving and bronze vessels inlaid with gold and silver.
  6. Decorative painting art, lacquer, porcelain earthenware and silk.
  7. Silk embroidery
  8. Ceramic ware
Ancient Chinese Landscape Painting, Handscroll; ink and pale color on silk
Ancient Chinese Landscape Painting, Handscroll; ink and pale color on silk