This part talks about boats in the river, transportation on land, ways of transporting goods, interactions between people and some interesting characters and the concluding remarks.
Boats in the river
The boats were well built with slung rudders for steering, oars, paddles and sails. Some boats carried passengers and some carried cargo. Boats have bipod mast to support the sail. Some boats have large stern sweeps and bow sweeps. The sweeps were worked by up to 8 men. Nail caps are visible on the outside of the boat, meaning the planks of timber can be nailed and joined together properly. This leads to the capability of building boats to the desired size.
Transportation on land
The long scroll shows people riding on mules, donkeys, horses, sedan chairs, carts and wagons drawn by animals. Camels carry goods and they may have come from the Silk Road.
Ways of transporting goods
Goods were carried on the head, by hands, on the back or by over-the-shoulder pole baskets. Some goods were carried on the back of animals. Some are carried by carts or wagons drawn by animals.
Interactions between people and some interesting characters
The painting shows people of all classes, rich or poor, and all ages young or old.
The long scroll shows a lot of contemporary details of city life. However, the restaurant and the tavern did not show any real names. A book called Dongjing Meng Hua Lu (東京夢華錄) by Meng Yuanlao (孟元老) and other Song Dynasty literature described some prominent landmarks of the capital city Biàn Liáng (汴梁) such as temples, pagodas and the Song Imperial palace. None of these except the Rainbow Bridge can be found in the scroll. Zhang Zeduan has painstakingly depicted buildings, streets and waterways in a generic way so that each is realistic yet resolutely anonymous. Zhang did not portray sights of the capital city, and he chose to create a prosperous city packed with commercial and everyday activities of its residents and visitors.
Some people speculated that the scroll was painted after the humiliating defect of Northern Song in 1127, invoking a bygone time of a prosperous city. On the contrary, some people said that the scroll bore a preface ‘Along the River of Qingming’ (清明上河圖) written by Sòng Huī Zōng (宋徽宗), indicating that the scroll was kept in the palace of the Northern Song before its collapse. However, the scroll in the National Palace Museum (故宫博物院) today does not have the preface of Sòng Huī Zōng, either because it does not survive the passage of time for various reasons, or has never existed.
The enchanted artistry of the scroll coupled with the lack of sufficient documentation about the painter and his subject matter makes the scroll even more fascinating.
Qingming can simply mean ‘peaceful and orderly’ making the scroll’s title meaning’Peace Reigns over the River’. It might have nothing to do with the Qingming Festival.
I would like to thank all the authors listed in the ‘further readings’ below for providing all the invaluable information for me to write the page. Their meticulous and painstaking work is greatly appreciated.
I would also like to thank Irene, my wife for proof-reading the three pages and correcting my grammatical mistakes.
Further readings :
https://www.zhihu.com/question/29771389/answer/83844985?utm_campaign=weekly202&utm_source=weekly-digest&utm_medium=email (superb page with beautiful colour images and Chinese text)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxff-4GktOI A Moving Masterpiece with English narration
杭侃, 宋峰 (2007) 東京夢清明上河圖 商務印書館(香港)有限公司 ISBN 978 962 07 5543 9