Figure painting is the oldest element in traditional Chinese painting, as everyday scenes were portrayed on the painted pottery which is the representative of the Neolithic Age. The earliest figure painting could be traced to paintings on the pottery or tomb walls in Shang Dynasty and Zhou Dynasty, in some burial sites, we could even find paintings were preserved on silk banners, lacquered objects. From the Han (202 BC) to the Tang (618–906) dynasties, figure painting was a main stream in art circles at that time. When Buddhism was introduced into China in Han Dynasty, figure of Buddha became the most important drawing materials. We even could find gorgeous grottoes housing a mass of portraits of Buddha, such as Yungang, Gottoes, Longmen Grottoes, Dunhuang Grottoes in the north of China and wall paintings of Buddha in the South.
Chinese figure painting strives to indicate vivid people's character by the render of environments, atmospheres, bodies and actions, then make a person a unity of form and spirit. Besides imagines of Buddhism and Taoism, emperors and beauties are also the main subjects in figure painting.
The modern artists of figure painting, not only look back to the past masters' techniques and styles, but also widely soak up the essence of western painting. That brings the progress on composition, types, forms, color tone as well as techniques of expression to Chinese figure painting.
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