Urban Life

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The images in this section come from a single handscroll, The Spring Festival Along the River, by Zhang Zeduan.  This painting is considered one of the most valuable in Chinese art history for its high level of technical quality and the liveliness with which it portrays the myriad details of urban life.  It is generally interpreted as portraying the city environs of Kaifeng, the Northern Song capital, and some of the surrounding countryside.  

To see this handscroll as it would be traditionally viewed, start with the first section at the top and use the scroll bar to move from right to left; progress through the following segments in the same way.  Handscrolls are typically viewed one section at a time, normally in portions equivalent to a shoulders' width apart.  Links to some of the details follow the final section.

Who do you think would have commissioned this painting?  Do you think this painter was a specialist, and if so, in what type of subject is he most skilled?


Section 1            (begin viewing from the right)

Zhang Zeduan (Song), Along the River at Spring Festival Time                                      source

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5

For a closer look at some of the details of this handscroll, look under the following topics.


Shops and commerce Means of transportation Individuals and groups