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The Covered Walkway and The Marble Boat


The Covered Walkway and The Marble Boat are some of the best museums in the world, such as the Louvre in France and the Musuem of Great Britain. In a sense, it maybe just as grand as them, if not more. Its delicacy in design makes it a special attraction. It would be a pity if we leave the Summer Palace without visiting the gallery and the Marble Boat.

The Painting Walkway, more commonly known as the Covered Walkway, is one of the most important structures in the Summer Palace. It is also the longest walkway in the Chinese gardens. It is 728 metres long and it is divided into 273 sections. On the beams and crossbeams of the walkway, there re altogether over 14, 000 traditional Chinese paintings.

If you don't believe it, you are welcome to count them. A tremendous collection. Some of them are birds, flowers and landscapes, the others are from famous ancient poems, dramas or other literary classics, such as "Monkey King", "The Tales of Three Kingdoms", "The Dream of Red Mansion" and so on. Most of the stories here are regarded as the essentials of ancient Chinese classics. Visitors only test themselves or their friends to see how much they know about Chinese history and literature while appreciating those figure paintings.

Passed through the "Moon Inviting Gate", the starting point of the Covered Walkway in the East. The "Monkey King Subdues White-Bone Demon" from the novel "Pilgrimage to the West", more commonly known in the west as Monkey King. It's about the adventure of four monks to the West for Buddist scriptures.

Look at this based on a celebrated piece of writing entitled "The Story of the Source of Peach Brook" by Tao Yuanming, a great man of letters about 1,500 years ago. The story tells about a fantastic fishing trip of a fisherman in Hunan Province, central China.

One day, he went fishing and lost his way. Accidentally he found a previously unknown place with peach trees all around. Men and Women there were working on fertile lands, houses were spacious and cozy in the shade of mulberry trees and bamboos. Even chickens and dogs went out to welcome him. Sweet fragrance of peach flowers intoxicat ed him. He spent some happy time there with those who had led quite a secluded life for generations. Later, other people tried all means to find it, but all efforts were in vain. The story was simply from the imagination of the author, who was eager to live a peaceful life. We think, many people still long for such a Utopian Society nowadays, don't you think so?

There is something interesting about the paintings. Let's go as far back as 250 years ago when the walkway was originally built.

Emperor Qianlong travelled to the South on six of his inspections, he was so much in love with the beautiful scenery there that he asked the best painters to sketch them down and later he had them copied on the beams and crossbeams of the walkway. Even the Summer Palace itself was modelled after a famous garden in Suzhou, a garden city in China. The original walkway was burnt down by the invading Eight Allied Forces in 1900. The reconstruction was carried out by Emperor Guangxu later.

As you will notice, there're four pavilions along the walkway. They represent the four seasons of the year. Moreover, they play a very important role in the construction of the walkway. The walkway travels along the undulating terrace of the hillside. The pavilions were built on each high rising place of the terrace so as to avoid unevenness. To the south of the walkway is the famous Kunming Lake, which makes up three quarters of the total area. To the north is the Longevity Hill. The walkway serves as a partition of the different landscapes, it demonstrates one of the typical Chinese gardening method: The separation of scenery. In summer, the walkway provide a pleasent shade. Emperor and empress used to stroll along the walkway, enjoying the refreshing coolness and the beautiful scenery.

The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove

This painting is located on the western side of Qiu Shui Pavilion. It shows seven passionate literati of the 3rd century, known as the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. The scholars, Ruan Ji, Ji Kang, Ruan Xian, Shan Tao, Xiang Xiu, Wang Rong and Liu Ling, held progressive political views but were unable to realize their ambitions. As a reaction, they refused to seek fame and wealth and took to entertaining themselves in a bamboo wood with composing poetry, food, music, and chess play instead.

Zhang Fei's Fight with Ma Chao

The subject of this painting is a fierce, stalemate battle between two of the future Five Tiger Generals of the Kingdom of Shu, Zhang Fei and Ma Chao. The story is taken from the 14th century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of the Four Classical Novels of Chinese Literature.

The Covered Walkway leads to the Marble Boat. It's a ymbol to the stability of the Qing government. Originally, it was built in Chinese style. The present western style upper part was rebuilt after the original one was burnt down by the Anglo-French Allies in 1860. It was named the Boat for Pure Banquets. Empress Dowager Ci'xi used to sample tea and enjoy the hazy scene over the lake in rainy days on the Boat, when it is raining, water flows through the mouths of dragon heads on the body of the boat and pours into the lake, creating a pleasent sound and a mysterious atmosphere.

Today, the Marble Boat gets its new usage. On the upper storey, photo service is available. You can dress in the costume of the Qing Emperor and Empress and take some pictures. We know you'd love that!