The origins of painting in China are mingled with the origins of writing. Written characters are, in fact, derived from pictography or picture writing, those in use at the present time being only developed and conventionalized forms of primitive drawings. The early books and dictionaries give us definite information regarding this evolution. But while history bears witness to this ancient connection, we do not come into contact with actual evidence until the third century of our era, through the bas-reliefs of the Han dynasty, and in the fourth century through the paintings of Ku K’ai-chih. Here we find by no means the origin of an evolution but, on the contrary, the last traces of an expiring tradition.