W560x H340mm, China

In old China, society is generally organised by different class, it would be extremely difficult to excel beyond where one is set to belong.  In the Siu dynasty, a system for selecting a top official post was introduced.  By way of a series of literature examinations, unlimited by one’s background the best is chosen purely from his knowledge.  The scholar who comes first in the examination is known as the Zhuang Yuan and would be appointed directly by the emperor.  It therefore became every parents’ dream for their son to become the Zhuang Yuan. After his appointment the Zhuang Yuan would parade from the capital all the way home.  The villagers are proud to welcome the scholar home, in fact so proud that the alley where he used lived would be renamed.  In this print, the gate on the left is known as “Zhuang Yuan Place”.  In front of the gate, leading the parade are two soldiers bang on the gongs and carrying the banner 状元及第 “Zhuang Yuan Ji Di” (the new title of the scholar) and 連中三元 (coming first in all three exams).  Behind them, the two men with flower decorated hats are the Zhuang Yuan and the one in armor the military Zhuang Yuan (who came first in martial art).  What more can one wish for if a family can have 3 sons all to become Zhuang Yuan!  On the sky, there is a ghostly figurine, he is Kui Xing, the saint in charge of who becomes Zhuang Yuan.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition