The Song Dynasty in China | Asia for Educators

China in 1000 CE

The Most Advanced Society in the World

The Cities of the Song



The crowded “rainbow bridge” is the centerpiece of the Beijing qingming scroll.

Get a closer look at the scene on and around the bridge...






The Rainbow Bridge

“Rainbow” bridges, such as the one that occupies the dramatic center of the Beijing qingming scroll, are so called because of the way in which the bridge arches, resembling a rainbow. The bridge pictured is an elaborate wooden bridge that spans the river and offers room for peddlers to show their wares to the pedestrians crossing from one side of the river to the other.

The technology of the bridge is impressive. In Song times one observer remarked that the bridge had no piers, but rather spanned the river using giant timbers curved like a rainbow. What keeps the bridge up is a series of interlocking horizontal and cantilevered beams. 


More about the Technology behind the Rainbow Bridge

Secrets of Lost Empires: China Bridge [NOVA, PBS]
Companion website to a 2000 PBS program documenting the “effort by a NOVA-assembled crew of scholars and timber framers to design and build a Chinese bridge known only from an ancient painting [the Beijing qingming scroll].” Includes an essay, China’s Age of Invention, that highlights many Song-dynasty inventions.


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