Emperor Minghuang’s Journey to Shu

AnonymousAD 618-AD 907

National Palace Museum

National Palace Museum
Taipei, Taiwan

This painting depicts what happened in the An Lushan Rebellion that took place in the Tianbao era of the Tang dynasty. Before rebel troops captured the capital of Chang’an (Xi’an), Emperor Minghuang (Xuanzong) escaped the chaos by taking an imperial journey to Shu (Sichuan). Historical records mention that the entourage crossed small bridges below lofty cascades on narrow plank paths so frightening that even the horses feared to go. Such a scene is depicted here, in which the red-robed figure is none other than Emperor Minghuang. This painting is also known as “Picking Gourds,” and related paintings ascribed as such appear in Song and Yuan dynasty records, with many paintings surviving that are similar in composition to this work. The painting method of this work still preserves the stylistic features from the Tang dynasty to Five Dynasties period. However, in terms of form, it includes the idea of landscape structure from the Song dynasty. The work is carefully and meticulously done throughout with beautiful colors, making it worthy of being considered a classical masterpiece of early blue-and-green landscape painting.


  • Title: Emperor Minghuang’s Journey to Shu
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date Created: AD 618-AD 907
  • Physical Dimensions: 247 x 92.6 cm
  • Type: Hanging scroll
  • Rights: National Palace Museum
  • Dynasty: Tang dynasty

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