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8) Filial sons and virtuous women of antiquity. Panel from a wooden screen painted in lacquer. From a tomb dated 484, Northern Wei dynasty. This screen is one of the few archaeologically excavated examples of early medieval Chinese painting. The status of the representation as a development of the Han lintel (No. 7 above) is clear; groups of figures pictured in relation to each other against a flat, neutral ground. Unlike the Han example, however, this painting has text that specifies who the figures are and what they are doing. As the title of the work, filial sons and virtuous women, indicates, much of medieval Chinese art was didactic -- meant as illustrations for well-known texts and stories with morally uplifting content. This combination of text and painting was to remain an important feature of later Chinese painting.

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