The dating of chinese bronze mirrors
Thus Greek art rises out of sensitive observation, and results in clear, realistic representations - or, in architecture, in logical, functional structure, sparsely ornamented.The Oriental way - as exemplified by Chinese art - is to discount the observed natural phenomenon, to seek the essence of life in intuitively apprehended values, in spiritual intimations, and in the abstract elements of colour and creative formal organization.Similarly Asiatic religious painting and sculpture exist, not to instruct and impress and glorify, as does Western religious art, but to afford a feeling of utter peace, of rightness, of suffusing joy.This art is at once a direct, gratifying visual experience, the means to a cosmic self-identification, and a conveyor of the feeling of order as the foundation of the spiritual-material world.The abstract elements in art - colour, rhythm, formal vitality - are a language intelligible to the soul and welcome to the inner vision.This eye in the centre of consciousness, atrophied in most Western men through neglect, or deliberately blinded in favour of the reasoning intellect, can be opened, grows sensitive with use.Paleolithic culture in China yields up the usual potteries, stone weapons, and bone implements of early crafts and craftsmanship.
Beside these two, Japanese art and culture seems comparatively new and immature; yet it has an unbroken history of fourteen hundred years, and its arts were flourishing centuries before the English language was born.
Pondering and understanding, he may find new quietude in living; new insight, even ecstasy, in contemplation; and a new world of formal enjoyment opened before him in the realm of Oriental art.
At the best he may experience the glow of the soul, the suffusing illumination of the inner being, which comes with surrender to the spirit and its participation in the rhythmic creative ordering of existence.
There can be no doubt that today the West is disillusioned over the art of its post-Renaissance period, and is at last aware that the Greek achievement, for all its perfection of forms, was limited to a narrow segment of the field open to the artist; that the larger body of profound and masterly art belongs to China and Persia, and, in only a slightly lesser degree, to India, Indonesia, and Japan.
The Hindu philosopher, in an effort to express the inexpressible, offers a figure which is helpful to the Western observer dismayed by the surface strangeness of Oriental art. It looks not out upon the external world but toward eternal realities.