Because so many Chinese artworks have been ravaged by time, the only way to really understand their history and significance is to turn to writings by the painters themselves or by contemporary critics. That is what Osvald Sirén has done in this classic book, with eye-opening results. One of the first Western studies to systematically cover the more than two thousand years of Chinese art, this book by a modern expert considers a wide range of topics, including the relationship between religion and art and the different aesthetic philosophies prevalent in different periods. The book covers art works from the Han (third century B.C.) to the T’ang dynasties; the Sung period; aspects of Ch’an Buddhism and its relation to painting; the Yüan period; historical theories, methods of study, and aesthetic principles of the Ming dynasty; and individual departures and reassertion of traditional principles during the Ch’ing period. Readable and intriguing, this volume is a valuable reference for art lovers and historians.