The Painting of Along the River During the Qingming Festival

In ancient times, the day before Qingming Festival was Cold Food Day. On this day, people would go to sweep graves of the dead. They would not use fire and only eat cold food. All of these were to commemorate their ancestors. In Tang Dynasty, he court issued an edict to annex the Cold Food Day and Qingming Festival on one day. From then on, Cold Food Day became another name of Qingming and sweeping graves also became a custom of Qingming. Later, the court of Tang Dynasty also stipulated that for the convenience of people to sweep graves, people could enjoy a seven-day holiday for Qingming Festival.

As the "Along the River During the Qingming Festival" by Zhan Zeduan was a famous painting depicting the flourishing scene of metropolis and scenery during Qingming, and had great reputation, the painters of all dynasties competed to copy it. The painting displays, during Xuanhe period of Northern Song Dynasty, the capital city Bianliang, namely today's Kaifeng, Henan. Shang River, namely Bian River, the Qingming Festival depicts the urban scene along both banks of Bian River on Qingming Festival. According to survey by experts, in Chinese history, there are at least over one hundred copies of the painting. With the same subject of Shang River on Qingming Festival, the painters of different period would add the customs and characteristics of his own period into the painting. Through comparison, we can find that the customs on Qingming Festival of different dynasties are not the same. Among these copies, the most famous one is the "Along the River During the Qingming Festival" by Qiu Ying Of Ming Dynasty.

We can see from this, in Ming Dynasty, outing was very popular among people on Qingming Festival. Actually,  Qiu Ying painted a peculiar custom the South of the Yangtze River. It was the "cherish human while treat ghost ungenerously" in the folk.

To Qing Dynasty, another excellent copy of "Along the River During the Qingming Festival" appeared. The academic version of Qing Dynasty of "Along the River During the Qingming Festival" depicts the various activities on Qingming Festival in Qing Dynasty. It contains most of the folk activities in Qing Dynasty, including drama performance, variety show, wrestling and so on. The picture of various folk activities reflects the scene of activities of all parts on Qingming Festival in Qing Dynasty.

"Along the River During the Qingming Festival" was one of the most famous paintings in ancient China. Either the original  version by Zhang Zeduan in Northern Song Dynasty or copies in different dynasties, all versions of "Along the River During the Qingming Festival" reflect the theme of "clear and bright flourishing age; peace in the world". These works reflect in different periods, the vivid scenes of people worshiping ancestors, going outing and having folk activities on Qingming Festival.

The spectacular scene in "Along the River During the Qingming Festival" and its realistic approach had always been the favorite painters in different dynasties. They had been copying and appreciating it. Just because of the copies of so many famous painters, we are able to see the changes of city life in ancient China and evolution of customs on Qingming Festival. We believe as the research goes on, we can learn more history information from "Along the River During the Qingming Festival",