Art of Asia,
n your journey through art history, you will
learn that some works of art may seem
unfamiliar because they reflect ideas, values,
and feelings that differ from your own. To
understand works such as the scene pictured
here, you must consider the ideas and values
that characterize the unique cultures in which
these artists lived and worked.
Web Museum Tour The extensive collection at
Florida’s Lowe Art Museum includes objects from
China, Korea, Japan, and South Asia. Browse by region
or explore artworks from a particular period or dynasty.
Start your exploration in Web Museum Tours at
Activity Enter the museum site and click on the Art of
Asia link. Take the tour and discover the myths and
legends behind the artworks.
Landscape in the style of Li T’ang. Copy after Qiu Ying.
c. 1494–1552. Chinese, Ming dynasty. Handscroll: Ink and color
on paper. 25.4 � 306.7 cm (10 � 1203⁄4�). Freer Gallery of Art,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Purchase, F1939.4.
o you know where the Taj Mahal is located? Do you know what a Ming
vase looks like? Have you ever seen a Japanese screen painting? Paint-
ing, sculpture, and architecture evolved in different ways in the East than in
the West. Religious, intellectual, and artistic achievements in India, China,
and Japan formed the basis for contemporary Eastern culture. The ten cen-
turies beginning in the fifth century B.C. and ending in the fifth century A.D.
were an important period in both Western and Eastern civilizations.
The art of india, china,
Read to Find Out Learn about the architecture and sculpture of
ancient India and the scroll painting and sculpture of China and Japan.
Focus Activity Imagine you are an art critic evaluating the painting in
Figure 10.1. Divide a piece of paper into four columns and write the
answers to these art criticism questions. Description: What actions are
taking place in the painting? What story does the picture tell? Analysis:
What visual effect does the high viewpoint create? How are the ele-
ments and principles of art used to create this effect? Interpretation:
What feelings, moods, or ideas do you associate with this painting?
Judgment: Do you think this is a successful work of art? Give reasons to
support your judgment.
Using the Time Line Compare images on the Time Line created in the
East. What aesthetic qualities do they share with the work in Figure 10.1?
works with images
c. 1500 B.C.
Standing Buddha is
created during the
Northern Wei dynasty
Shang Dynasty China
2500 B.C.–1500 B.C.
Harappan Civilization, India
206 B.C.–A.D. 220
Han Dynasty, China
Gupta Era, India
Tang Dynasty China
Heian Period, Japan
3000 B.C. 100 B.C. B.C. A.D. A.D 500
glaze used in
The Great Buddha
at Kamakura, Japan Refer to the Time Line
on page H11 in your
Art Handbook for more
about this period.
A Woman Dancer
Mughal Period, India
Kamakura Period, Japan
Momoyama Period, Japan
Sung Dynasty, China
Ming Dynasty, China
■ FIGURE 10.1 Zanbur the Spy Brings Mahiya to Tawariq, Where They Meet Ustad Khatun.
Mughal, Indian. c. 1561–76. Tempera on cotton cloth, mounted on paper. 74 � 57.2 cm
(291⁄8 � 221⁄2�). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York. Rogers Fund. 1923.
A.D. 1000 A.D. 1500 A.D. 1800
After completing this lesson,
you will be able to:
■ Describe the development of
the Hindu and Buddhist
religions in India.
■ Explain how the Hindu and
Buddhist religions influenced
the architecture and sculpture
he long history of India is also the history of two great and endur-
ing religions. For centuries Hinduism and Buddhism have influ-
enced all aspects of Indian life. Nowhere is this more evident than in the
art of India, the birthplace of both.
At times these two religions vied with one another, each producing its
own unique art style in architecture and sculpture. At other times the two
have existed side by side, resulting in artworks that are both Hindu and
Buddhist in character.
When and how did these religions originate? How did they influence the
art of India? A search for answers to these questions involves a journey back
4,500 years, to the same period when Egypt’s Old Kingdom flourished.
The Indus Valley Civilization
The modern nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh
trace their cultural beginnings to the early Indian civiliza-
tions. Historians now recognize that an ancient civilization
once flourished on the banks of the Indus River in what is
now northwest India. (See map, Figure 10.2.)
The Harappans, or people of the Indus Valley, gradually
developed a way of life as far advanced as that of Egypt. They
used bronze and copper technology and erected multistoried
buildings made of fired bricks along streets as wide as 40 feet.
The Harappans also built an efficient drainage system and
developed a written language based on pictograms, or
While most Harappans raised grain and vegetables in the
fields surrounding their cities and towns, others made and
traded small clay pottery, bronze and stone figures, and cot-
ton cloth. The production of these items made the Indus
Valley an important trading center.
Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro
In modern times, two important sites have been discov-
ered: Harappa in 1856, and Mohenjo-Daro (Figure 10.3) in
1922. Excavations reveal that about 4,500 years ago a civiliza-
tion rose along the 400-mile route separating these two cities.
More than 70 cities, towns, and villages have been discovered;
they are believed to have been part of an organized kingdom
with a central government.
The Art of India
■ FIGURE 10.2 Two major Eastern religions,
Hinduism and Buddhism, began in India. Buddhism
spread to China and Japan. How do you think
the spread of religious ideas affected the artworks
created in these areas?
Many Harappan clay works (Figure 10.4)
have been found, most of which were appar-
ently made for trading purposes. Only a few
small stone and bronze sculptures from
Mohenjo-Daro have survived to the present
day. These hint at a fully developed artistic
style and provide insights into the religious
beliefs of the mysterious Harappan people.
Like their clay works, these sculptures indi-
cate that the Harappans worshiped a great
many spirits who, they believed, were found
in water, trees, animals, and humans.
Decline of the Harappan Civilization
By about 2000 B.C. the Harappan civiliza-
tion began to decline, and by 1500 B.C. it van-
ished completely. Most historians believe that
invaders from the northwest, known as
Aryans, were largely responsible for bringing
an end to the Indus Valley civilization.
Chapter 10 The Art of India, China, and Japan 215
■ FIGURE 10.3 This site reveals the ruins of a carefully planned city that thrived about 4,500 years ago.
What do these ruins tell you about the people who lived here?
Mohenjo-Daro, India. c. 2500 B.C.
■ FIGURE 10.4 Notice the images of nature,
birds, and flowers decorating this work by
Harappan artists. What elements and principles of
art would you discuss when analyzing this work?
Large Painted Jar with Birds. Pakistan, Chanhu-daro. 3000 B.C.
Terra cotta. 25 � 49.5 cm (93⁄4 � 191⁄2�). Charihu-daro. Chanhu-
daro Expedition. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,
The Ganges Civilization
and the Rise of the
The Aryans controlled India during the
thousand-year period now commonly known
as the Ganges civilization. They were warrior-
shepherds who relied on their cattle and sheep
for livelihood. There is no evidence to suggest
that the Aryans were as well organized as the
Harappans were. They had no central govern-
ment and were loosely organized into tribes.
Each tribe was ruled by a raja, or chief, who
was assisted by a council of warriors.
Over time the Aryan religion, which recog-
nized many gods and goddesses, blended
with the beliefs of the Harappans to form
what eventually became the national religion
of India: Hinduism.
Hinduism was not founded on the teach-
ings of a single person. Instead, it developed
over a long period of time from a blend of sev-
eral different beliefs and practices.
The Hindu believe there are three primary
processes in life and in the universe: creation,