The wars, plagues, and political instability that characterize
this lengthy period forced the Chinese to question traditional belief
systems, especially Confucianism, and encouraged many to embrace Buddhism
and Taoism. Despite the pervasive turmoil, the arts flourished and evolved.
The invention of woodblock printing made it possible to teach the tenets
of Buddhism to the masses. Poetry, painting, and sculpture, no longer
associated with the state, became personal modes of expression. Even penmanship
took an artistic turn, as calligraphers perfected increasingly picturesque