The scroll’s first shops are just opening for business
the large- and small-scale enterprises so characteristic of . ... before picking up his display
rack loaded with small round items, possibly toys. We also see a long-distance
grain boat, staffed by many laborers and . Several
centuries earlier, improved agricultural techniques, combined with
new rice strains from Southeast Asia, had produced sufficient agricultural
surplus so that some farmers could devote themselves part-time to
growing cash crops or making handicrafts. Others continued to grow
their own food. As the market economy developed, the people who pursued
full-time occupations came to buy all of their foodstuff at the market.
market system expanded, merchants found coins, silver, and gold too
cumbersome. Instead they used personal notes for financial transactions.
Eventually these notes circulated so widely that they developed into , which the government took
over at the beginning of the eleventh century.
As the viewer unrolls the scroll, one sees stores, and, above all, lively crowds. The bridge scene,
the undeniable high point of the scroll, appears just at its halfway point. It shows a bridge
teeming with people coming and going, some ,
others peering below at the water traffic. A few of the stands on the bridge,
like that for cakes on a table, are temporary, while those with roofs could
not be dismantled as easily. Other bystanders watch the action on the bridge itself,
where a figure in a sedan-chair has a stand-off with a mounted rider who refuses
to give way.
... Because the level of commercial activity remains equally high on both sides
of the dilapidated city wall, one can barely detect the difference between the
areas inside and outside the wall.
In this respect, which had been subject to strict government controls. Officials had
carefully monitored markets, which opened only at noon, closed at sunset, and
occupied designated sections of the city, always within the city wall. By the
twelfth century, markets had burgeoned outside city walls, where they stayed
open all day and night without government interference.
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