A Short History of Chinese Art

By Hugo Munsterberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
The Art of the Sung Period

HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL BACKGROUND

Following the collapse of the T'ang dynasty, China was once again thrown into a state of chaos. This period of disunion, lasting from 907 A.D. to 960 A. D. is called the Five Dynasties period after the five main dynasties which ruled China during these years. Military governors and bandits exploited the people and indulged in all kinds of tyranny and cruelty. It is thus not surprising to find that these rulers were soon overthrown by the Sung dynasty which once more brought peace and unity to the Middle Kingdom.

The Sung period which lasted for over three centuries from 960 to 1279 A.D. was politically one of weakness but culturally one of the most splendid in Chinese history. The pride which the Chinese of this era felt in the high state of their civilization is best expressed by a saying attributed to Shao Yung: "I am happy because I am

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