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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics

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Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.

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Chinese Primitive Art: Lin Tonghua 293

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Chinese Primitive Art Lin Tonghua Historians in the past developed theories of the origins of pre-literate Chinese painting from their researches into the written myths and legends handed down from the Qin and Han period (221 BC-220 AD). At the tin1e, this involved reasonably advanced research methods in history. Judged from standpoint of modern research methods, however, this earlier method was not so satisfactory. Though the Qin and Han writing is very old, it describes cultures thousands of years older and therefore may not be very reliable. Indeed, before the discovery of material relics in archaeology, there were no examples of pre-literate Chinese painting. Until recently, it was only possible to imagine what the art was like and to take at face value the earliest written records (written thousands of years after the printitive societies they describe, but also thousands of years before the beginning of scientific writing) on the aesthetic consciousness of these ancient, printitive artists and their adntirers. But since the early decades of this century, modern methods of anthropological research have enabled researchers to learn more about contemporary societies in Australia, Africa and South America at a comparative level of printitive social development which closely resembles, in all probability, those societies in ancient China and Europe when art first arose, enabling us to draw indirect conclusions about the origins of art elsewhere in human history. In the 1870's the Altimira cave paintings of prehistoric, now extinct animals were discovered in Europe. This was followed by the discovery...

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