Museum of Chinese Art and Ethnography Xaverian Missionaries - V.le S. Martino, 8 - Parma, Italy 0521-257.337

Southern and Northern Dynasties



bronze statue (cast bronze, golden) Northern Wei Dynasty (4th century)
Bronze Statue (cast bronze, golden)  
Northern Wei Dynasty (4th century)  

The Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 AD) was a period of great turmoil, the last period of the Six Dynasties and 16 Kingdoms. Many general took control of a divided territory, and ruled China for several decades. It was also a period of activity in the spread of Buddhism and Buddhist-inspired art in China.

In 420, the warlord Liu Jin Yu overthrew the emperor, establishing Liu Song, the first political entity in a series of dynasties of the South. Meanwhile, the regions north of the Yangtze River suffered an internal rebellion that divided the kingdom of Wei into sixteen small kingdoms.

In the middle of the fourth century, the capital becomes Luoyang, which was the imperial center of various earlier dynasties. The emperors encouraged the adoption of elements of Chinese culture, take Han surnames, and make marriage alliances. Despite the political turmoil, it was a period that saw advances in medicine, astronomy, and cartography. Even the industry of vases and pottery of this period is characterized by elegant lines with simple decorative and valued styles.

The Buddhist religion flourished in this period, and the Yungang Grottoes, in Shanxi, are great testimony, with its large Buddhist statues carved during the reign of the Northern Wei. The monk Bodhidharma went to China at the beginning of the 6th century, and the various legends and myths about this monk begin to spread.

In 581, the struggles for dominion of the territory began with Emperor Wen of Sui, who defeated the Northern Zhou, and the southern regions, giving rise to the Sui Dynasty. After nearly four centuries of division, China was reunited.



Southern and Northern Dynasties
420 - 589


Dynasty Art