Unique Chinese painting to be displayed for first time

One of the most famous - and longest - paintings of Chinese antiquity will be displayed in Beijing next month in its entirety for the first time ever.

Engineers at the Beijing University of Technology have built a 16-meter (52-foot) -long case weighing five tons and costing €200,600 to display "Qingming Shanghe Tu," or Qingming Festival on the River.

The 12th century work has long been praised for its realism and historical detail in portraying social and commercial life in an ancient Chinese city.

Yet, fears of damage to the delicate colors and silk on which it was painted - and its size - have prevented it from ever being shown publicly. The original painting measured more than five meters (16 feet), with lengthy dedications and inscriptions adding many more meters (feet).

An inner case containing the painting will be filled with nitrogen to prevent decay, the newspaper said. The outer case will be filled with the refrigerant fluorocarbon to keep the inner temperature at between 14 and 20 degrees Celsius (57 and 68 Fahrenheit).

The painting is believed to have been painted in the 12th century by Zhang Zeduan, an artist at the Song Dynasty imperial court. Hundreds of people, animals, houses, trees and vehicles are painted in minute detail, inspiring later emperors to order several copies.

The painting will go on display at Beijing's Palace Museum from Oct. 10 until the end of the year, The AP reports.

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