On Qingming shanghe Studies
Palace Museum, Beijing
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Translator's note: Since it is still being debated whether "qingming"
refers to the Spring Festival, or a noun meaning peace and order, for
the sake of a less ambiguous translation, I shall keep the title in
pinyin, rather than using the better known English title, Spring
Festival by the River. Some recent scholarly inquiries on the Qingming
shanghe scroll, with overviews of Western, Chinese, and Japanese scholarship,
are published in the
Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies 26 (1996) and 27 (1997). IL
If a single novel could become the focus of an entire scholarly subject,
as Dream of the Red Chamber has been, then the equivalent phenomenon
in painting is summarized in the book entitled "Qingming shanghe
tu" and Qingming shanghe Studies. The author, Zhou Baozhu, chronicles
primary and secondary documents relating to the Qingming shanghe scroll,
separating them into different topics: (1) the Eastern capital Kaifeng;
(2) "Qingming shanghe"; (3) Zhang Zeduan and the Dongjing (Kaifeng)
painting academy; (4 & 5) analysis of the content of the painting (parts
1 and 2); (6) the controversy over the authenticity of the Qingming
shanghe scroll; (7) the portrayal of the city, its location, and
scenery in the painting; and (8) questions relating to Qingming shanghe
Studies. The author also gives an overview of a wide range of related
documentary evidence, summarizes previous scholarship, and further analyzes
Studies of the novel Dream of the Red Chamber involve an additional
important component -- the investigation of its author Cao Xueqin's
background. Many scholars choose this topic for their publications,
giving birth to "Cao Studies," or the so-called "Extra-Red Line."
As for the Qingming shanghe scroll artist Zhang Zeduan (active
early 12th c.), could he also become topic of a branch of specialized
study? I think that if there are no new discoveries, such a trend could
not sustain itself solely on the colophon written at the end of the
painting by Zhang Zhe.*
*Zhang Zhe was the Curator of Painting at the Jin court. His colophon
on the Qingming shanghe scroll, identifying the painter as Zhang
Zeduan, is dated 1186.
See Wang Qi's
review of this book.
here to purchase