Unknown: Emperor Xuanzong's Flight to Shu (12th century)

(Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA)

A painted scroll made by an unknown Chinese artist from the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279). The Tang emperor Xuanzong (reign 713-756) fell in love with a consort called Yang Guifei. Xuanzong was so in love that he started to neglect his duties as an emperor and when in 755 a rebellion broke out, the blame quickly fell on Yang Guifei. Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and Yang Guifei fled to the neigbouring country of Shu (modern Sichuan Province in China) but were stopped by mutinous troops who sought the execution of Yang Guifei. Xuanzong reluctantly assisted but abdicated shortly afterwards and fled to Shu, leaving his son Li Heng as Tang emperor Suzong. The scroll shows Xuanzong and several soldiers riding to Shu. The person on red on the right is Xuanzong of Tang, looking backwards as if remembering what he has left behind. On the left is also a horse without a rider, this was probably the horse of Yang Guifei. Scroll from the 12th century.