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You are here: Primitive Painted Pottery

Primitive Painted Pottery

Painted pottery was the earliest form of Chinese folk art that incorporated colored designs into objects. These are works of important historical and artistic significance because they are one of the signs marking the entry of human civilization into the Neolithic Age.

Painted pottery appeared with agriculture to meet everyday requirements when men no longer lived nomadic lives. It was an embodiment of early men's notions about life and nature. Its primitive simplicity is meaningful and has great artistic effect, demonstrating the ability of the ancestors of the Chinese people to generalize complicated things philosophically and use simple, explicit artistic language to bring out the basic features of objects and their relations to others. The highly symbolic decorative patterns correctly showed the elegance of clan culture.

Xi'an's Banpo painted pottery represents a high level of artistic achievement. It is first painted and then fired, with the result that the color will not peel off. Most of the pottery objects are typically decorated with fish or some other aquatic animal motifs and occasionally associated with geometric patterns which evolved from woven designs. The prevalence of animal themes reflects, to a certain extent, the importance of fish and other animals in the life of the people of that period - a life of fishing, hunting, gathering wild plants and fruits and farming. Their simple forms and designs give themselves a pristine look, representing the civilization of that period, embodying the aesthetic law of unity of multiformity, and reflecting the reality and ideas of that era.

The fish motif appeared on all the painted pottery objects of that period of the Banpo-type cultures, and the individual fish patterns showed a gradual change from realistic depiction to free representation characterized by vivid express and bold outlines. In the later period the representation of fish was reduced to only one characteristic part of the aquatic animal, such as the head, body or caudal fin. The composite design of fish, human face and bird vividly reflected men's production activities and their aesthetic taste about 5000 - 6000 years ago.

Dai Gandyi & Guo Youmin, Sinminchu Publishing Co.


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