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4) Woman with dragons and phoenix. Painting on silk. Late Waning States period, about 300 BC. Excavated at Ch'ang-sha, Hunan province in southern China. This fragment of a larger work by an unknown artist is the earliest, surviving Chinese painting. Part of the distinctive Ch'u culture native to southern China at this time, the painting is probably part of a religious scene. The dragon and phoenix were motifs central to Chinese mythology. The painting is a good example of early Chinese attempts to depict three-dimensional objects (the woman) on a two-dimensional surface (the silk). From a Western point of view, the attempt is largely unsuccessful, and results in a flat painting, lacking in Western notions of depth and perspective. The representation of the human figure in silhouette (facing to the side, not front) would remain characteristic of Chinese figure painting until the late Han (about 200 AD).

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