Views of the Cosmos

“Wen, or pattern, is a very great power indeed. It is born together with Heaven and Earth…. When the black [of Heaven] is combined with the yellow [of Earth] all color patterns are compounded. With the squareness [of Earth] and the roundness [of Heaven], all forms are distinguished.
Liu Xie (465–ca. 522)

The appearance of Chinese art is deeply rooted in and reflective of Chinese philosophical traditions. The theory behind the decoration and design of a robe, a jar or a poster is often a cumulative manifestation of thousands of years of thought and reflection on the composition of the universe. Near-perfect symmetry and hierarchy are principles present in both the structure of the cosmos as well as individual elements in this gallery. As well Chinese art works often attempt to portray the entire universe, sometimes symbolically, in a single composition.