These are short essays, as the muse and fancy strike me, on various topics (arts, genealogy, the world, etc.). I’ve titled these pages “Grover’s Take on Things (for whatever that’s worth)” for a reason. These are just things I want to share with friends, including those I haven’t met yet.
Several people have asked about the beautiful banner across the top of these pages. I am happy to explain: Early in the 12th century, during China’s Song Dynasty, a painting called Qing Ming Shang He Tu (“Along the River During the Qingming Festival”) depicted daily life in what is now Kaifeng in Henan Province, against the backdrop of the annual spring festival. The Qingming Festival (also known variously as Pure Brightness Festival, Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day, or Tomb Sweeping Day) is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice, on or about April 5 on the Western calendar.
Attributed to artist Zhang Zeduan, the scroll came to be one of the greatest art treasures in China’s history.
“Qingming Festival is famous partly for its involvement over centuries in palace intrigues, theft and wars, and partly for its detailed, geometrically accurate images of bridges, wine shops, sedan chairs and boats beautifully juxtaposed with flowing lines for the depiction of mountains and other natural scenery. It is routinely covered in courses on Chinese history, art and culture, across China and in the West. ‘The Qingming Festival is probably the single most widely known work in China,’ said Marc F. Wilson, a Chinese specialist and the director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. He added that the painting was ‘like China’s Mona Lisa’.” (Bradsher, 2010)
The original went through many private ownerships before becoming the property of the Emperors. Among its most passionate admirers was the Last Emperor of China, Puyi, who took the scroll from the Imperial Palace (The Forbidden City) in Beijing and kept it in his personal palace in Changchun. In 1945, the government regained control of it, and it now resides in the Imperial Museum inside the Forbidden City.
The banner on these pages is not taken from the original painting. For comparison’s sake, the section showing the bridge in the original is reproduced above right, showing its great genius despite the faded colors and fragile condition. (The original scroll is 24.8 cm × 528.7 cm (9.8 inches ×17.3 feet) in size.)
Being so famous, the painting inspired many remakes over the centuries, including the one from which the bridge detail is taken used as the banner in these pages. 600 years after the original was painted, five Qing Dynasty court painters (Chen Mu, Sun Hu, Jin Kun, Dai Hong and Cheng Zhidao) presented their stunningly beautiful remake to the Emperor Qianlong. This version is now housed in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, where it has been since 1949.
For a magnificent visual treat, you can see the entire 35.6 x 1152.8 cm (14 inches x 37.8 feet) masterpiece scroll slowly, quietly, breath-takingly, amazingly in front of you. Click here and be patient. This is a real treat!
Bradsher, Keith. (2007, July 3). ‘China’s Mona Lisa’ Makes a Rare Appearance in Hong Kong. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/03/arts/design/03pain.html?_r=3