Engraving Review

Engraving in Chinese Art

Printing art and books by engraving was invented in China.

Collecting antique Chinese engravings will almost certainly become more popular.



Ancient Chinese engraving developed before engraving in European art, and has a unique style.

As China 's influence increases, the ancient art of Chinese engraving is likely become more widely appreciated. Collecting antique Chinese engravings will almost certainly become more popular. This is a niche in the antique print market that may prove relatively untapped for the collector and profitable for art investors.

Engraving has been important in Chinese art for over 1100 years. Ancient engraving used stone, wood and copper to print on paper.

Stone rubbing was the first type of engraving used in China . The engravers carved holy texts and images into stone slabs. They pressed moist paper onto the stone, pushing the paper into the engraved lines. Then they applied ink and carefully removed the paper. The image appeared as white lines on a black background. This technique was the world's the first printing technique and is sometimes called block-book printing. The first book ever printed was made in China in AD686 and is called the The Diamond Sutra, a copy is in the British Museum in London.

Chinese Art
Chinese wood engraving from Qing dynasty
Wood Engraving
Qing Dynasty

Engravings created in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the Five Dynasties (907-960 were mainly religious and functional rather than artistic.

Artists learnt to engrave landscape pictures during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and Yuan dynasties (1206-1368). In the Song Dynasty copper plate engraving was used to print paper currency and advertisements.

The Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1616-1911) dynasties were peak times for engraving in China . Both religious engraving and picturesque engraving reached its zenith.

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