Heaven & earth in Chinese art

treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei



ISBN: 9781741741438 Category:

Yin Cao


This publication presents some of the highest artistic achievements in Chinese history. Drawing on the exceptional collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Heaven and earth in Chinese art: treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei celebrates the rich heritage of Chinese culture through the ancient Chinese concept of tian ren he yi – unity or harmony between heaven, nature and humanity.

As expressed by Song dynasty scholar Zhang Zai (1020-77), who developed this concept of unity, ‘nature is the result of the fusion and intermingling of the vital forces (qi) that assume tangible forms. Mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, animals and human beings are all modalities of energy‐matter, symbolising that the creative transformation of the Tao [Dao] is forever present.’ Similar expressions of this unity are common to the three major philosophical and religious traditions of Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, which form the foundation of the Chinese belief system.

Heaven and earth in Chinese art includes over 80 artworks of outstanding beauty covering paintings, calligraphy, illustrated books, bronzes, ceramics, and jade and wood carvings.

The National Palace Museum in Taipei holds one of the finest selections of Chinese art in the world. Once held in imperial collections inside Beijing’s Forbidden City, many of the treasures were transferred to Taiwan during the unrest of the 1940s, and have rarely travelledsince.

Additional information

Weight 1134 g
Dimensions 22.3 x 26 cm
Publisher name Art Gallery of New South Wales
Publication date 1 March 2019
Number of pages
Format Paperback / softback
Contributors Edited by Yin Cao and Karyn Lai
Dimensions 22.3 x 26 cm
Weight 1134 g


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Yin Cao is curator of Chinese art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Her most recent exhibitions and related publications include Tang: treasures from the Silk Road capital (AGNSW, 2016) and A Silk Road saga: the sarcophagus of Yuhong (AGNSW, 2013).

In previous roles she co-organised the inaugural exhibitions at the Arthur M Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Peking University and the new Lee Kong Chian Art Museum at the National University of Singapore. She has translated and edited various catalogues, including Treasures from a swallow garden, the inaugural exhibit of the Arthur M Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology, Peking University (1992)and Arthur M Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Peking University: a selection (1998).

Dr Karyn Lai is associate professor of Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of NSW. Her primary research area is in early (pre Qin) Confucian and Daoist philosophies. Her books include Learning from Chinese philosophies (Ashgate Publishing, UK, 2006) and Introduction to Chinese philosophy (Cambridge University Press, UK, 2008). Her work is often of a comparative nature, drawing insights from Chinese philosophies to address issues in a number of philosophical areas including moral philosophy, environmental ethics, reasoning and argumentation and epistemology.