Children Playing in the Snow at the New Year

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1800-1900
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 109.9 x 61.5 cm (43 1/4 x 24 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Douglas Woods Sprunt in Memory of Rear Admiral and Mrs. Edgar L. Woods
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

child, China, new year, playing, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), snow, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

The most significant and joyous of all festivals in China is the Lunar New Year, which falls on the first day of the first new moon of the year (generally in late January or February). This festival painting is not intended to be realistic, rather it depicts an imaginary scene filled with wishes for a happy New Year.

In the foreground, boys make a snow lion; two of the older ones wear peacock feathers in their caps, an allusion to becoming  high officials since peacock feathers were bestowed by the emperor as a high honor. In the midground, a boy ignites a red firecracker, which is an essential element of the New Year festivities, said to frighten away evil spirits;  the sulphur released was also believed to stop the spread of epidemics. Other boys make clamoring noises with drums and cymbals to scare off evil and ensure harmony during the incoming year. On the back veranda, three boys huddle around a jar trying to capture five bats as an emblem of vast fortune. The symbolism derives from puns on the word red, which sounds like "vast," and the word for bat, which sounds like "good fortune."

The work is unsigned. It is most likely a workshop painting made as a festival decoration.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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