Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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(6,300 words)

1. Historical Development

The oldest preserved ink painting on silk roughly dates back to the mid-1st millennium BCE. A multicolored painting on a silk coffin cover from 172 BCE depicts a "body portrait" of the deceased, surrounded by entwined dragons and mystical creatures. During the course of the Han dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE), burial chambers were decorated with mural paintings that showed scenes of daily life. The style of these colored ink mural…

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Toyka-Fuong, Ursula, “Painting”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 25 September 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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