Qingming Festival Concertina Book Along River
AGE: – Copy Circa Early 20th Century
CONSTRUCTION: – Parchment and silk
LENGTH: – 440cm
HEIGHT: – 20cm
WIDTH: – 28cm
WEIGHT: – 250gms
The scenes depicted in Qingming Festival Concertina Book Along River are divided into three parts, a rural scene, a city scene, and the famous scene showing the Rainbow bridge, the focus of this more than four metre long book.
The title in Chinese “Qing Ming Shang He To” is a hard-covered concertina-style copy of the famous Song Dynasty painting attributed to the painter Zhang Zeduan (1085-1145). Zhang Zeduan served in the imperial court as a professional artist.
This copy was likely printed in the early 20th Century. The tan-coloured silk in this book is adhered to parchment and comprises nineteen pages, excluding covers. Chinese calligraphy and red seal marks are on the inside of both covers. Covers are covered in a green coloured brocade faded with age. Chinese calligraphy on the top of each internal page could be commentary or poems.
Copies of this famous painting have been reproduced throughout the centuries, the artwork in this copy is similar to the famous Qinming Shang He To painting, dated to the Song Dynasty which in scroll form measures 528cm long by 24.8cm wide.
The original scroll has opened a section at a time from right to left. It shows a panoramic view of activity along the river in the city of Bianjing, today known as Kaifeng. The right section of the scroll shows the scenery of a rural part of the city and as one scroll further to the left it comes alive with a hive of activity with people going about their daily lives.
As in the original scroll, this central section of the book focuses on the arched bridge known as the Rainbow Bridge or Shangtu Bridge, where scenes on the bridge and activity on the banks of the river are highly charged with people gesturing and pointing in their efforts to alert the people on the boat of the impending danger they faced when the boat mast wasn’t lowered enough in order to prevent it from hitting the bridge.
The left half of the scroll show houses, temples, hotels, and businesses varying in style from poor to affluent. The river is busy with several fishing boats and ferries, while on land, there are donkeys and buffalo pulling carts and porters supporting sedan chairs for the transport of people.
The Qin-ming festival is a tradition observed by the Chinese for more than 2500 years. The festival is also referred to as Ancestors day or tomb sweeping day. It falls on the 15th day after the spring equinox each year around the 4th or 5th of April.
Throughout most of Asia and China, It is customary for many Chinese families to spend the day at the cemetery of their ancestors to clean the grave sites and to make offerings to honour their ancestors’ memory.
This day is far from a solemn occasion but more like a party where the family burns fake money, Food, and paper replicas of material goods for offerings to the ancestors. Food offerings are enjoyed by the family with some left at the grave site for the ancestors.