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Southern Song

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Art & Architecture Thesaurus

Preferred Term

Southern Song


Refers to a Chinese dynastic style and period dating to 1127 to 1279. The dynasty was established by Gaozong (reigned 1127-1162), son of the last emperor of the Northern Song. The dynasty had its capital at Nanjing and later at Lin'an and it ruled the area south of the Huai River. Foreign influence was avoided and archaic traditions were often drawn on. Landscape remained the most important genre of painting with artists such as Ma Yuan and Xia Gui depicting local, ethereal, gentle scenery in contrast to the craggy landscapes of Northern Song painters. This school of painting, called the Ma-Xia school, came out of the emperor's painting academy. In sharp contrast are the active and spontaneous brush paintings of Zen monks of the period. Since northern kilns were now unavailable, new southern centers of ceramic production began to be patronized by the court. Special guan (official) wares were made near the palace. Celadon-glazed stoneware in explicitly archaic forms was made at Longquan. A small factory producing Qingbai wares at Jingdezhen expanded during the period, eventually becoming the greatest center for ceramics in China. Jades and metalwork were often made in archaistic forms. The manufacture of the fine silk tapestry known as 'kesi' reached its pinnacle in the Southern Song. Gilded and painted wooden Buddhist sculptures featured sensuous bodies, enigmatic smiles, and a sense of vitality.


Song, Southern

Southern Sung

Sung, Southern

Broader Term


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