One of the most distinctive characteristics that differentiates Chinese painting from other paintings can be the inscriptions on the paintings. For example, in Zhao Mengfu’s Sheep and Goat, inscriptions and painting almost take up equal proportion in the work, which does look “cluttered to Western viewers” (Kleiner, 1051). As Kleiner points out, the reason why inscriptions usually appear on Chinese painting is because “the Chinese have held calligraphy in high esteem” and “calligraphy and painting have always been closely connected” (Kleiner, 1051).
接下來的body部分的討論，提出加入題畫的傳統可以追溯到唐代。一開始銘文的主要目的是為了表明藝術家。因此，在早期的中國繪畫中，尤其是宋代的藝術作品，碑文通常是藝術家的名字。例如，在范寬的“山川流水”中，銘文僅僅是一個小角落裡的藝術家 – 也即是“范寬”的名字。
The tradition of adding inscriptions on painting can trace back to the Tang Dynasty. ，However, in the beginning, the main purpose of inscription was to indicate the artist. Therefore, in the earlier Chinese painting, say art works from the Song Dynasty, the inscriptions were usually the name of the artists. For example, in Fan Kuan’s Travelers among Mountains and Streams (Song Dynasty), the inscription is merely the name of the artist – “Fan Kuan” in a small corner (Yu, 85). Starting from Yuan and Ming Dynasty, Chinese literati and artists were required to perfect their abilities of both painting and writing calligraphy. As a result, the inscription on painting has begun to play a more and more important role and the content of inscriptions has been expanded – it can include the information of the creator, such as his/her name, age and title and it can also include the information where and when the art word was made. More interestingly, Chinese literati and artists even started writing poets on the painting, which can be found in some Song art works but were very commonly seen in Ming and Qing art works: since Northern Sung Dynasty, “poet-calligraphers, such as Su Shih, Huang T’ing-chien, and Mifu started to write out their works in large character handscrolls for presentation to friends or political associates” (Harrist, 1).
For Chinese literati, painting is not the only way to express themselves: unlike Western art, Chinese calligraphy is regarded as a major art form which has the aesthetic dimension and can reflect the thoughts and feelings of the creators. Besides calligraphy, poetry plays significant role in literati’s life and like painting and calligraphy, Chinese literati usually took advantage of poetry to express themselves. And according to Kleiner, for those Chinese literati: “poems provided subjects for paintings and poets composed poems inspired by paintings” (Kleiner, 1051). In tradition Chinese culture, “it is common knowledge that Chinese poetry, calligraphy, and painting, have been practiced together in single works of art” (Fong & Murck, xv). Therefore, it is not difficult to understand why some Chinese paintings are full of inscriptions and also it is necessary for the viewers to appreciate both the painting and inscriptions in order to fully comprehend the art work.