Children at Play

Children at Play



Xia Kui 夏葵

(Chinese, active c. 1405-1445)

Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk

Painting: 62.5 x 113.7 cm (24 5/8 x 44 3/4 in.); Overall with knobs: 214 x 137 cm (84 1/4 x 53 15/16 in.)

Gift of Charles L. Freer 1915.110

Did you know?

In the foreground on the right are three boys playing a kind of blind man’s bluff.


Sixteen children engage in scholarly, religious, and military activities, representing the popular “one hundred boys” theme expressing the wish for abundant, successful male offspring. Such paintings conveying auspicious wishes were often displayed during the New Year festival season.

Two older boys wear small crowns with red tassels. Another child with a mask holds a brush in one hand, a rice measure in the other. He stands on a low table imitating Kuixing, the God of Examinations and servant to the God of Literature.

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