Song and Yuan
Song and Yuan
A Golden Age
Chapter 3 brings us to the Song (960–1279) and Yuan (1279–1368) periods, widely regarded as the highpoint in traditional times of both Chinese technological creativity as well as the visual portrayal of technology. Before turning to five landmark works from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries, each of which represents a new level of achievement in the graphic presentation of technology, we examine one style or technique of Chinese painting, “ruled-line painting” (jiehua), which is the only important non-freehand style of drawing and painting ever developed in China and which, more than any other style, also displayed remarkable potential for the portrayal of technological subjects. We shall see how certain artists realized this potential but also how certain impediments prevented broader use and enhancement of these techniques. We shall also consider the complex role of a government that often supported and promoted technology but also, in its efforts to keep control over certain technologies firmly in its own hands, could serve as a brake on technology itself as well as on its depiction.
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