At the End of the Stream: Copy in 14th to 17th Century China

  • Dan Xu (Autor/in)


In traditional Chinese art, copying masterpieces was widely practiced, the famous works existed in numerous versions through the ages when copies of copies, and copies of copies of copies (of copies) functioned as models for ensuing generations. Restricted by the material and the nature of painting and calligraphy, copy in China has never carried such dark connotations as it does in the West. The lack of the consensus of uniqueness and originality, resulted in paintings in series, as well as in countless “after manner” and homage versions. This article is concerned with the phenomenon of copy making in 14th to 17th century China. The discourse is led by a series of essential questions: Who were the copyists? What was the purpose or motivation? Who were the end-users? What messages do the copies convey? Answers to those questions unfold a panorama of the Chinese art history revolved around the employment of picture.