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Along the River During the Qingming Festival (清明上河圖) is a panoramic painting by Song Dynasty artist Zhang Zeduan (1085–1145). It describes the daily life of people during Xuanhe (1119 - 1125) period of the Northern Song at the capital, Bianliang, today's Kaifeng. The entire piece was painted in hand scroll format and the content reveals the lifestyle of all levels of the society from rich to poor as well as different economic activities in rural areas and the city. It offers glimpses of period clothing and architecture.
As an artistic creation, the piece has been revered and court artists of subsequent dynasties have made several re-interpretive replicas. The painting is also known for its geometrically accurate images of variety natural elements and architectures, boats and bridges, market place and stores, people and scenery. It is often considered to be the most renowned work among all Chinese paintings.
Over the centuries, the Qingming scroll was collected and kept among numerous private owners, before it eventually returned to public ownership. The painting was a particular favorite of emperor Puyi, who took the Song Dynasty original (24.8 by 528 cm) with him to Manchukuo. It was later re-purchased in 1945 and kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City.
Over 60 variations on this topic by artists of subsequent dynasties were made. Several Ming and Qing versions can be found in public and private collections around the world. Each version follows the overall composition of the original fairly faithfully, however, the details often vary widely. The Song Dynasty original and the Qing version, in the Beijing and Taipei Palace Museums respectively, are regarded as national treasures and are exhibited only for brief periods every few years.