The Most Popular Artworks From Ancient China

When we consider some of the great civilisations that once reigned supreme, we tend to imagine the mighty Ancient Egyptians, or the massive, sprawling metropolis of Ancient Greece. And while many of these cultures left a mark on world history, China was also a truly magnificent empire, one that has been going strong for thousands of years.

One way of gauging just how advanced an ancient civilisation really was is by looking at the amount and quality of the art it produced, and the Chinese were among the best artists in the world. These are some popular examples of Chinese art.

Jade Artwork

In ancient China, jade was seen as more than just a stone or material to be used for artwork, but rather as a symbol of achieving perfection, nobility, and everlasting life, and the people at the time considered to be the very essence of the earth and heaven. It’s among the very oldest materials used in their art, often done in a way to symbolise their connection with heaven and the planet. It was common, too, to create pieces of art that replicated birds, fish, and turtles.


Although derived from a French word, meaning to “partition” this is actually a technique that was used by the ancient Chinese to decorate the metalwork that they created. Specifically, it refers to the decorations that would be made to bronze and copper, which were two of the more popular metals used for creating utensils. Thin wire made of copper would be glued to the objects, and then themes were drawn over it. It was most widely seen in the Yunnan province when the Mongolians were in charge, and countless pieces were designed during the period.


Poetry was extremely important to the people of ancient China. They used to express their emotions both in a private and public fashion, and it gave readers a chance to gain insight into the life of the writer and the kind of emotions they were feeling when they created it. Chinese classical poetry tended to consist of three elements, which are called shi, ci, and qu.

Unfortunately, much of the poetry from ancient China did not survive the book burning that was initiated by emperor Qin Shihuang, and at the moment some of the only examples of poetry are the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, The Orchid Pavilion Gathering, and a few others.


Perhaps one of the most valuable traded items in the ancient world was silk, almost all of which was created by the Chinese, and is considered as one of the very greatest creations. It was traded over much of the world, and it was not uncommon to come across silk tapestry amongst royalty and the elite.

A single silkworm can create over 1000 metres of silk over the course of its life, and the Chinese worked hard to create artwork from it. The trade of silk eventually gave rise to the famous trade route the Silk Road.