Japan is a well-wooded country, and wood has always been used there for domestic utensils of all kinds, either in a natural state or lacquered. Until recent times, pottery and porcelain were not employed extensively for general domestic use but were reserved for such special purposes as the tea ceremony.
Ancient China covered a vast and ever-changing geopolitical landscape, and the art it produced over three millennia is, unsurprisingly, just as varied. Still, despite continuous indigenous technical developments, changes in materials and tastes, and the influence of foreign ideas, there are certain qualities inherent in Chinese art which make it possible to describe in general terms and recognise no matter where or when it was produced and for what purpose.
We’ll start with a seemingly simple question: what is calligraphy, exactly? Although many will nod their heads in confirmation that they know the correct answer, putting it into words is a much bigger challenge. And, in all honesty, it’s not surprising that many can’t provide a reliable explanation of what calligraphy is as modern times definitely blurred the line of this discipline’s description.