Under the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), China, for the first time in its long history, was subjugated by foreign conquerors, becoming part of the Mongol Empire. Yet during this century of occupation, Chinese culture not only survived but was renewed, and Yuan artists established new paradigms that had a profound influence on painting and calligraphy during the ensuing Ming dynasty (1368–1644).
The installation is organized chronologically into three sections. The first section, which focuses on the period from 1280 to 1350, illustrates the response of literati living in south China to Mongol occupation. Having withdrawn from government service out of loyalty to the fallen Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) or having been prevented from serving due to the cessation of civil service examinations, these men often found sanctuary in the alternate bureaucracies of the Daoist or Buddhist religious establishments. Turning to art to express their emotions, they created escapist visions of unattainable paradises or wintry landscapes in which old trees became a metaphor for survival.
Mongols ruled China from 1271 - 1368