In Chinese tradition, the arts are divided between civil and military. Only those who mastered both could aim to obtain perfection and be considered a true “gentleman-scholar”.

Codified during the Zhou Dynasty, a well-rounded education was taken to consist of the Six Arts 六艺of rites – music – archery – horsemanship – calligraphy – mathematics.

Gradually over the centuries, with ever increasing peace and prosperity, society turned more towards leisure and the pursuit of pure aesthetics.  As a result, the civil components gained prominence and evolved to emphasis the Four Arts 四艺of qin qi – calligraphy – painting; valued even in current times as the marks of a sophisticated and refined individual.

Overall, art in Chinese culture aspires towards an ideal balance between physical skill and mental prowess; the height of the artistic achievement being considered as able to strategize and execute, but with attention given to form and aesthetics.