The screen depicts scenes of a summer house or small palace of an important family. This suggests the central character under the tree smoking his pipe is a mandarin or maybe Prince of the Royal Court. His costume is his informal at home wear which can be of any colour. As he is elderly they usually wear darker colours.
All the attendants are gardening or carrying food or playing instruments. One of his wives is bringing a small child, his son across the bridge to visit. The elder children play in the pavilion across the way.
The sage in the blue robe is symbolised by his staff and gourd, a symbol of a perfected soul gone beyond sorrow. His attendant carries a green vase with a sprig of new growth showing long life.
The whole scene is about family happiness and joyful play during the heat of the summer. Many figures gently wave their fans to cool themselves. Two servant carriers rest on rocks in the shade of a tree waiting for their next journey to fetch something from the market.
The balustrade of the central house is decorated with cut out shapes of bats which are a symbol of happiness.
Outer panels 23" 59cm
Inner panels 22 ½ " 57cm
Height 85 ½ " 217cm