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Along the River During the Qingming Festival

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Along the River During the Qingming Festival

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Figure 1 The screenshoot of the video Along the River During the Qingming Festival


The national treasure- Along the River During the Qingming Festival is one of the Top 10 greatest paintings in China, which depicted the ancient capital city, Bianjing (currently known as Kaifeng) during the twelfth century Northern Song. This remarkable painting is the only extant valuable work of art by Zeduan Zhang, the historical famous artist. It is 25.2 centimeters in width, and 528.7 centimeters in length amazingly (Qian Ma, 2014). It had been drawn on the silk in hand scroll format by utilizing scatter perspective mapping method, in which containing approximate 814 of people, 60 of animals, 28 of boats, 20 of vehicles, 30 of buildings, 8 of sedan, and more than 170 of trees (Zi Li, 2017). The extraordinary work seemingly was telling a flourishing and alive city scene, but it virtually indicated an administration problem and social issues to the temporal authority, Emperor Huizong of Song Dynasty. This artistic work has been widely appreciated around the world.


People customarily traded, visited and walked along the Bianhe River during the Qingming Festival, such as the fair custom nowadays. The whole work was divided into four parts for the researching convenience, including the suburbs, Bianhe River, downtown, and “Qu Jian”, according to the researcher from the Imperial Palace Museum of Beijing (Hui Yu, 2014). The former three components are real geographical area that the picture depict, the last term “Qu Jian” is however an intellectual way that Zeduan Zhang applied to suggest the temporal authority the hazard social issues by this real-scene painting.

The Suburbs

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Figure 2 Parial of the Along the River During the Qingming Festival- The Suburbs (Hui Yu, 2014)

According to Figure 2, it can be found that there was a caravan of camels on the main road, which supposed to be coming from the northeast direction. The leading people walked by feet and held the direction of his burdened camel. It can be told that they had just arrived their destination for the aim of trade during the Qingming Festival. On the northern side of the caravan of camels, there was a group people orderly around a performer, who sat in the middle of the circular crowd. He was supposed to be a storyteller, who was clearly aware the appropriate place with large flow of people in his previous experience in the Qingming. At that time, houses were either built along the river, or concentrated that close to the main road of Bianliang, in which the countryside turned to the downtown. Consequently, the suburbs that Zeduan Zhang draw was obviously an important transportation junction which connected different cities and also enabled commodities exchange or trade.

Bianhe River

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Figure 3 The Busy Bianhe Dock (Xiaoyun Wang, 2009)

As known from the history recorded, Bianhe River was a significant national water transportation hub and business traffic arteries during the twelfth century Northern Song (Xiaoyun Wang, 2009).  Figure 3 was the lively scene of Bianhe Docks, in which the business men of Kaifeng traded mainly by shipment. The boats were closely anchored on each side of the river, and it was seemed that people inside the boats were negotiating on prices or loading their commodities. The famous Hongqiao Bridge contained unaccountable people was the essential connection that linked the two cities. Therefore, cities were not divided from the countryside, while they connected each other just by a bridge. However, this remarkable bridge not only was able to bear the burden from the large number of people as well as the fulfilled vehicles, but also higher enough to ensure large boat to pass. According to Xiaoyun Wang, (2009), this historical bridge was built under the tough conditions, such as the rapid-flow water, wide span, and force balance problems. Moreover, the ancient people did not have disciplined instruments and high-developed techniques, but they still constructed such firm and great bridge.

The Downtown

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Figure 4 The city gate tower of Bianjing (Wenkai Zhou, 2015)

The magnificent city gate tower was the center of Bianjing city. Nonetheless, it also was a partition that divided the outside the city and inside the city. It can be found that the height of the gate tower was three times to the houses on each side, whereby the guards on the tower could observe the accident as soon as possible. A caravan of camels walked outside the city, their hosts may just finish the trade with considerable profit. The commodities these camels transported were made from other countries, they carried them through the “Silk Roads” and sold to the people live in Bianjing (Weikai Zhou, 2015).

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Figure 5 The inside city of Bianjing (Qian Ma, 2014)

The buildings that lied on the opposite sides of the Bianjing main road, were tea house, taverns, meat store, and the ancient court of session “Gong Xie”. Besides, there were several profitable “hotel”, which did not allow people to stay overnight, but only for taking a break. Because Bianjing was a popular and central transportation junction and commercial center, many businessmen experienced long-period travel to sell their goods here (Weikai Zhou, 2015). Consequently, these simplified “hotel”, which named “Jiao Dian- Foot Shop”, were welcome by people.



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