Chinese Flower-and-bird Painting

The flower-and-bird painting is peculiar to China. From of old, all kinds of flowers, plants, and birds were given various symbolic meanings. Flowers and birds can be compared to almost all thoughts and feelings of human being. They can symbolize feminine beauty, virtues, political authority, omens, and lucky niceness. And once established, this tradition became popular in every dynasty.

Peach Blossom&Birds

Peach Blossom&Birds

Flower-and-Bird Painting did not become an independent art form until the mid and late Tang dynasty around the 8th and 9th centuries, it is interesting to see how this form of art slowly"creeps" from the background of initially serving as ornamental pattern for daily utensils, later serving as symbolic, metaphoric and allegorical elements in the background of figure painting and all the way to the final stage where we see flowers and birds as independent themes. In pre-Tang and Tang Dynasty figure paintings we see birds and flowers symbolizing the mood and temperament of the human figures depicted, the characters seldom directly look at each other, instead there is a relationship with a flower they hold, a tree they sit beside or with the birds that fly around them. At this stage of development, flowers and birds serve as symbols, this is a further development from the ornamental function they had on bronze wear and pottery. This symbolic function was certainly an important stepping stone on the way to become an independent art form during the mid and late Tang, and indeed, Flower-and-Bird Paintings preserved their symbolic role and must be observed and enjoyed in this context.

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