The Wei, Jin, and Southern & Northern Dynasties (220-589)
After the fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty,
The chronic warfare and calamities of this period caused a general turning to religion. Large numbers of temples were built and extensive grottoes were excavated, and these works gave wide scope to mural painters. The Kizil Grotto in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the Mogao Grottoes in
Although tomb murals remained as popular as they had been in the Han Dynasty, the turmoil in the Central Plains resulted in an exodus of the rich and noble, and so few large tombs were built. The tombs with lavish murals built during the Wei, Jin and Northern Dynasties are found in remote areas of the northwest and northeast, and even in neighboring
In the course of this prolonged social turbulence the Confucian school lost its grip as the national ideology, and the literati tended to become liberal in their philosophical reasoning. This gave rise to many new trends in the art of painting: There were more art works expressing personal feelings, the styles of expression tended to be diversified and the painting techniques were further developed. Professional painters, art critics and connoisseurs all appeared in this period.
Figure paintings were still the major type of painting, but artists had already begun to pay attention to expressing the inner feelings of the figures. Landscapes and flower-and-bird paintings were in transition from being parts of figure paintings to being independent subjects of paintings themselves.