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This 1000-year-old handscroll painting illustrates a poem about the power of food, friendship, and nature, to uplift a soul in social exile. The story may resonate with our experiences in today’s socially distanced world. The scenes, read from right to left, illustrate Su Shi's (1037-1101) autobiographic Second Prose Poem on the Red Cliff written while Su, a renowned scholar, was in exile. After enjoying a picnic with his friends, Su ascends the forbidden Red Cliff alone to begin his journey of self-realization. Su's lyrical adventure between the physical and spiritual worlds embodies the Daoist belief that “life is a dream.” What world do you dream of?

Starting at the right end of the scroll, click the left arrow to follow Su Shi's epic journey toward revelation. Click the red boxes to read Su's poem (adapted from the translation by Richard Strassberg) and learn more about the artist's revolutionary imagery