Searching for My Parents

Huang Xiangjian Chinese

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This painting illustrates the true story of Huang Xiangjian’s epic journey across China to find his mother and father. Having lost contact with them following the Manchu conquest in the mid-1640s, Huang set out from his home in Suzhou to search for them in 1652. He traveled more than fourteen hundred miles over one and a half years before reuniting with them in Yunnan, in the southwest, and escorting them back home. Huang created several paintings to commemorate his adventure. This scroll, painted three years after his return, traces the most arduous portion of the journey, from northwest Guangdong through west Hunan to east Guizhou. Look closely for a traveler holding an umbrella or staff over his shoulder—this is Huang, who appears several times throughout the scroll.

Searching for My Parents, Huang Xiangjian (Chinese, 1609–1673), Handscroll; ink and color on silk, China

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