The Song Dynasty in China | Asia for Educators

China in 1000 CE

The Most Advanced Society in the World

Faculty Consultants

Patricia Ebrey, Williams Family Endowed Professor in History, University of Washington
Conrad Schirokauer, Professor Emeritus of History, City College of the City University of New York; Senior Scholar and Adjunct Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
Valerie Hansen, Stanley Woodward Professor of History, Yale University

Site Design and Production

2018: SQUAREWATER, Heidi Neilson, Principal
2008: Sara Leeun Huong, Weatherhead East Asian Institute
Project Director: Roberta Martin, Director, Asia for Educators

2008: Images of the Qingming shanghe tu reproduced from Renmin Meishu Chuban Shi, 1981, Beijing.
2018: Fine Art Prints Reproduction, China Online Museum; Ink Wash Large Handscroll Famous Paintings Along the River During the Qingming Festival Chinese by Zhang Zeduan from Song Dynasty 10"x282". Collected by The Palace Museum, Beijing

The painting is considered to be the most renowned work among all Chinese paintings,and it has been called "China's Mona Lisa."

In a rare move, this artwork was exhibited in Hong Kong from June 29 to mid-August 2007 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's transfer to the People's Republic of China. It is estimated that the costs of shipping the painting ran into tens of millions of dollars in addition to an undisclosed cost of insuring this piece of priceless art.

From January 2 - 24, 2012, the painting was exhibited in the Tokyo National Museum as the centerpiece of a special exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations between China and Japan,with the Japanese museum officials present.
The scroll captures the daily life of people and the landscape of the capital, Bianjing, today's Kaifeng, from the Northern Song period. The theme is often said to celebrate the festive spirit and worldly commotion at the Qingming Festival, rather than the holiday's ceremonial aspects, such as tomb sweeping and prayers. 
Successive scenes reveal the lifestyle of all levels of the society from rich to poor as well as different economic activities in rural areas and the city, and offer glimpses of period clothing and architecture.