Arts and Recreation in Song Dynasty China

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When studying the rich history of arts and recreation in the Song Dynasty, it is evident that there were many newly pioneered practices that completely captivated the populous and became the epitome of several long-established genres. When one observes the progression of visual arts through the Song Dynasty, landscape painting established itself as the most prevalent and important of the multitude of forms in this genre. Close examination of entertainment reveals that the dramatic arts, with emphasis on shadow-puppeteering, became the most enjoyed form of amusement in the Song Dynasty. Finally, nothing had become more delightful than the everyday life of a citizen, which never had a dull moment. Chinese art and recreation came to a pinnacle of excellence during the Song Dynasty as landscape painting became an ideal practice, the theater grew to be central entertainment, and the life of a citizen never lacked wondrous activities.

Landscape painting was the most important visual art form during the Song Dynasty. It was through the cultural stimulus of the Tang Dynasty that landscape painting was able to come to mastery during the Song Dynasty and take its place as the epitome of classical Chinese art (Morton and Lewis 2005). Landscape painting also exemplified how the East developed separately from the West through its art. While in the West the human form was central to most art, artists in China found their muse in Nature. Landscape painting was not represented in Europe until much later (Morton and Lewis 2005). During the reign of the penultimate Song emperor, Huizong, the Song Dynasty reached its cultured peak. Huizong had an imperial collection of six thousand works of art, many of them landscape, and he established...

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... was able to find that balance between mind and body, spirituality and physicality that then, in turn, appeased all its denizens. It is evident that this balance played a role in the longevity of the empire and its cultural imprint on China’s history. The arts and recreation in China truly came to a zenith during the shining cultural imperium that was the Song Dynasty.

Works Cited

Bowman, John S., ed. Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Gernet, Jacques. Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1970.

Hook, Brian, and Denis Twitchett, . The Cambridge Encyclopedia of China. 2nd Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Morton, W. Scott, and Charlton M. Lewis. China: Its History and Culture. 4th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.

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