In 618 CE, after China had been divided for nearly four centuries, the Tang dynasty assumed rule over a reunified country with a powerful central government that fostered political, artistic, and cultural coherence. Trade along the Silk Road reached its peak during this period, and the influx of exotic goods and foreigners produced an immensely rich, multiethnic society and culture. In the visual arts, a characteristic national style emerged, combining features like the palmette and the acanthus from the west with quintessentially Chinese details such as the peony and the vine scroll. The result was a lavish and delicate visual vocabulary that expressed Chinese aesthetic values in all their wealth and diversity.
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