Bearing a signature of the renowned painter Zhang Daqian, this scene depicts travel and exchange along a section of the Fuchun River in modern-day Zhejiang province. One possible reading of the poetic inscription goes:
Can it be an accident that the river is quiet and the current still?
Right after each mountain is yet another mountain.
Near the fishing platforms work is slow;
Who needs wind to lead the upriver raft?
Around the Yanling Rapids there is the saying,
“Seven li of wind, and seventy of calm.”
The boatmen entering the rapids shout madly their prayers for wind.
Thus it is also called the Seven Li Rapids.
Executed in the manner of seventeenth-century master Shitao (1630–1724), this painting, like many classical Chinese landscapes, contains visual guides for the viewer. Beginning with the two figures interacting on the riverbank at the bottom of the composition, the river leads the viewer upward, through the winding sailboats and eventually into the mountains. The path created begins with an exchange between two people and leads into the movement of vessels, which embark on their own negotiation with the landscape.