Chinese : Wanshou shengdian tu

Wang Yuanqi, 王原祁, 1642-1715


<p style='text-align: justify;'>This beautiful and unique item consists of two scrolls, both meticulously depicting a bustling street in the Qing capital Beijing where people celebrate the Kangxi emperor’s birthday. Many everyday practices (carrying water, smoking, hanging out the laundry in a backyard) can be spotted. The detailed portrayal of shops and shop signs might be of particular historical interest, e.g. shops selling dumplings, vegetables (cai 菜), meat, tea (cha 茶), alcohol (jiu 酒), tobacco (yan 烟), incense (xiang 香), ginseng (renshen 人參), cakes (gao 糕), and medicine.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> Other relevant details include animals (elephants, horses, sheep, birds), tools (carrying poles, wheelbarrows, wheeled carriages), entertainment (theatre plays), infrastructure (bridges, wells, city gates), military men, and public text. All gates have Chinese characters on them; some are bilingual (Chinese-Manchu). Even the smallest characters are highly legible.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> While the scroll contains the date 1717 (printed in “the 56th year of Kangxi of the Qing” [清康熙五十六年]), this does not mean that the item itself, as a material artefact, really originates from that year. It could well be, for example, a nineteenth-century reprint. Note also that the event depicted here took place in 1713.</p>

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