[ Arts & Crafts ]
With its long history and inward-looking propensities, China has had the patience to develop and refine a resplendent catalogue of fine arts and exquisite crafts.
Up to the Warring States period (403-221BC), arts were generally produced by nameless craftsmen for the current emperors, but during the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD), THE ELITE CLASSES OF China began to develop a passion for spending their leisure time engaged in artistic endeavours. A division arose between the handiwork of professional, but lower class, artisans and that of the amateur, but upper crust, masters.
Thus it was that the educated gentry was driven to excel in many art forms. In particular, the "Four Arts of a Scholar" were especially highly valued and refined by the Chinese literati. Excluding two of these which are not visual arts, the arts of calligraphy and painting have over the years become the most treasured of all art forms in China.
There has been, however, no dearth of other visual art forms cultivated by everyone from anonymous laymen to famous intellectuals throughout history. Architecture, sculpture, pottery and porcelain, jade and ivory carving, metalwork, textiles, lacquerware, and others are also timeworn forms of expression.