The Chinese Explorer Zhang Qian on a Raft

Maejima Sōyū Japanese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 229

This bearded Chinese gentleman engaged in a most unlikely endeavor—white-water rafting—is Zhang Qian (Japanese: Chōken), a legendary explorer of the second century B.C. Zhang was immortalized in a Yuan-dynasty poem that tells of his riding a log raft to the source of the Yellow River, only to find himself floating in the Milky Way. This painting is one of the works most reliably attributed to Maejima Sōyū, a painter active in the Kantō region of eastern Japan.

The Chinese Explorer Zhang Qian on a Raft, Maejima Sōyū (active mid-16th century), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, Japan

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