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Hanging Scroll Chinese Artwork

During the early Chinese history, hanging scroll Chinese artwork is only one of the many forms of wall paintings. Although it was known from archaeological and textual sources, only a few of these traditional artworks have survived. Very few screen paintings that were used as portable walls have survived. Beginning from the Song dynasty, hanging scrolls and hand scrolls were passed on to the next generations as heirlooms or family collection. The portable formats of hanging scroll and handscrolls made it easier to carry and store in great quantity. These scrolls serve as a window to the past, where one can imagine the past customs and traditions of early civilizations – giving us a valuable information on their everyday life. Artworks from this period also depict the most important cultural excellence that China’s history has achieved. Old Chinese paintings served as a fine art or a record of people’s normal everyday life.

By studying the paintings created in a particular period, one can gain knowledge of how people lived, how they dressed, and interacted during those times. One of the most significant paintings in Chinese history is The Spring Festival Along the River by Zhang Zeduan. This single handscroll is composed of several sections with astounding technical quality and vividness that points the multitude aspects of urban life. The many details that can be found in the handscroll include individuals and group of people, the modes of transportation and the trade and commerce. It is important to note that in this particular painting, few women were illustrated. This is mainly due to the fact the upper class women in those days were rarely seen in public unless it’s a holiday or any special occasion.

Typical mode of transportation presented donkeys and oxen as the beasts for carrying loads of goods to the market. Individuals carry smaller goods with the use of pole baskets to evade the hassle of maintaining carrier animals. Humans were transported using donkeys and horses with sedan chairs. Women stay hidden in covered sedan chairs. The painting also showed transportation through ferries and boats in the Grand Canal. As seen in the painting, fortune tellers were also rampant those days, with clients seeking to know the most appropriate time of almost any important life event, such as opening up a business, marriage proposal, and start of schooling. These practitioners were more formally known as prognosticators. Chinese astrology and Feng shui are one of the many studies that branched from this tradition.


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