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Chinese Paintings Landscape Meanings



For over a thousand years, since the T'ang dynasty, Chinese landscape paintings have been understood as both an intimate expression of nature and as a way of conveying profound emotions.

Landscape paintings have traditionally been China's favourite Chinese painting as they show the poetry in nature. It is the "nature of nature" that the artist tries to convey in a Chinese landscape painting. So, it is not so much a portrait of a mountain but a composite of many elements of nature that invite you to wander in imagination through the landscape.

Literally translated, the Chinese characters for landscape mean "mountain and water". Almost all Chinese landscape paintings depict mountains and water, generally a river. The mountains represent a long life, and water the sea of happiness. In harmony together, mountains and water symbolise a long happy life.

Most Chinese landscape paintings will also show mist or clouds which symbolise good fortune and happiness and are understood to arise from the union of the two main principles, yin and yang.

Clouds and rain can also refer to sexual union, the clouds being the blending of the male and female, the sky and the earth, and the rain, the climax of the union. This relates to an old Chinese creation story in which heaven or sky, the Great Father, and earth, the Great Mother, are thought of as a conjugal couple engaged in never-ending intercourse.

For the Taoists, Chinese landscape paintings represent the eternal Tao, the ultimate reality that pervades all life. It's the Chinese landscape painting in which the overwhelming experience of the one-ness of nature and soul can be realised.

In ancient times mountains were special objects of veneration that were thought to ensure cosmic order and permanence, and virtually every mountain was believed to have its resident mountain god.


View our fantastic collection of Chinese Landscape Paintings here, they are our best sellers, our customers are amazed how stunning they are when they arrive and they see them in real life.