Along the River During Qingming Festival: Attitudes and Worth


Along the River During the Qingming Festival (simplified Chinese: 清明上河图; pinyin: Qīngmíng Shànghé Tú) was painted by Song Dynasty artist Zhang Zeduan (1085-1145). It is one of the top ten famous painting in China. It includes the appearance and the life of people in the capital of Song Dynasty, Bianjing. Zhang Zeduan was a famous painter of Song Dynasty and he prefer to portray buildings, trees, and characters. People have different attitudes towards this painting over the centuries and it is really expensive.

Attitudes of past

People in ancient time had various attitudes towards Along the River. When Zeduan Zhang worked at Hanlin Academy, he first drew the painting from AD 1111 to 1125. He then offered the painting to Emperor Huizong named Zhao Ji after finishing it. Zhao Ji was also a famous calligrapher and he highly treasured Zeduan Zhang’s painting. Zhao Ji used his own writing style to write five characters, “清明上河图”, which was the Chinese name of Along the River During the Qingming Festival, and also set his seal to the painting (The Authentic). About eight hundred years ago, Zhang Gongyao, who was the first person to define the theme of the painting, claimed that the painting presented all the positive affairs during the dominate of emperor Huizong. However, about 650 years ago, Li Qi refused this claim and he argued that the painting actually portrayed the contrary side of the prosperous capital and the hard life of common people. (Specialist). 

Attitudes of nowadays

Nowadays, most of the people highly commend Along the River. In 2015, the Research Office Chief of Palace Museum, Yu Hui was interviewed and said that the painting was full of history meaning. Yu said that although the scenes in the painting were hilarious, it was present an inflammatory world with a sense of urgency instead of a prosperity world. A Chinese specialist, Marc F. Wilson, who is the director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City Mo, stated that Along the River is possibly the one that is widely known in China. He also said that the counterpart of this painting is Mona Lisa. Ringo Lau, who had studied the “Along the River”, said that the painting is detailed, colorful, and astonishing (Bradsher). University of Hong Kong art historian Yeewan Koon thought the painting illustrate Chinese perfect innovations in architecture and engineering of that era, which could be proved by the timber bridge without piers and boats created to transport stuffs and citizens. Maxwell Hearn, director of Chinese painting at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, even said that Along the River was the ambassador for Chinese culture (Seno).

Worth from visitors

The worth of Along the River could be presented by how many visitors it has been attracting. In 2003, the painting was exhibited in Shanghai and visitors drew a quarter-mile line outside the museum. The same situation was happening in Shenyang, China, in 2005. In 2007, Chinese government sent Along the River to Hong Kong and it was exhibited at Hong Kong Museum of Art through July 22. Visitors passed through large reproductions and texts of the painting before seeing the real Along the River and they were only permitted to see the painting for five minutes because of the high volume of visitors (Bradsher). In 2015, visitors waited for up to 10 hours outside the Palace Museum to see Along the River. Although viewers were allowed to see the painting a few minutes, they still thought it was worth it. One Beijing citizen, Ms. Jacqueline Zhang, went to Palace Museum at 5 in the morning to stand at the head of the line. According to Museum office, about three thousand visitors came to the exhibition a day (Song Dynasty).

Shanghai EXPO China Pavilion 清明上河圖

Shanghai EXPO China Pavilion 清明上河圖

Worth from reproduction

Many reproductions of Along the River have been produced because the worth of it. The painting provoked some of court artists in Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasty to create re-interpretive versions. Qing Court Version was the famous; it was drawn by five Qing Dynasty court artists, Chen Mei, Sun Hu, Jin Kun, Dai Hong, and Cheng Zhidao. This version was even published on books, made into a documentary, and printed on postcards (Along the River). One of the known electronic reproduction was the animated 3D reproduction, displaying at the Chinese pavilion of Shanghai World Expo in 2010 (Lucarelli). This fascinating 3D Along the River then inspired another person to make reproduction. The president of Jingyu Mantang jadeite carving workshop, Mr. Fang, said that he could not find a proper theme for a huge piece of jadeite until he saw the 3D painting of Along the River at Shanghai World Expo in 2010. The huge piece of jadeite would be sculpted into a jadeite Shan Zi, a three-dimensional carving of a jadeite, and it might be the largest jadeite Shan Zi in Asia and worth several million Yuan (Tsu).

Works Cited

“Along the River During the Qingming Festival”, Comuseum.

Bradsher, Keith. [ “China’s Mona Lisa’ Makes a Rare Appearance in Hong Kong”], The New York Time.

Hsu, Tao and Lucas, Andrew. “The Spirit of Jadeite Carving”, Gia. 18 June 2014.

Lucarelli, Fosco. [ “Along the River During the Qingming Festival by Zhang Zeduan (12th]

Century) and an 18th Century Remake”, Socks-studio.

Seno, Alexandra. “A Rare Look at ‘China’s Mona Lisa’”, Newsweek.

“Song Dynasty Scroll a Hit in Beijing”, The Straits Time.

“Specialist: Along the River During Qingming Festival is an alarming painting”, “专家:《清明

[ 河图》为盛世危图 官兵懒散税务重”], News.163.

“The Authentic of Along the River During the Qingming Festival Actually Has Two”, “《清明上

河图》真迹其实有两幅”, “Qingming Shanghe Tu Zhenji Qishi You Liangfu”, Ifeng.