China’s artistic history is rich and unique, based on aesthetic principles of distinctly its own origin. From Neolithic ceramics and Jade; unusual bronze designs of ritual vessels, bells and masks starting from the possibly mythical Xia dynasty; to fine ceramic statuettes of the Han dynasty. Buddhism’s contested aesthetic influence, as well as classical influence by way of Greco-Buddhist art of Central Asia, began predominantly during the Tang dynasty around 700 A.D. though it was suppressed. Furthermore, since as early as the Yuan period (around 1300 A.D.) China has been known as the producer of the finest porcelain. Ever since its domestication in north-eastern China around 5,000 years ago, the horse has been an integral figure. Its significance has been such that as early as the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1600-1100 BC), horses and the vehicles they powered were entombed with their owners for the afterlife.

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