Three figures and calligraphy upon an ancient scroll.

Admonitions of the instructress to the court ladies

Exhibition /

8 July – 18 August 2024

This annual exhibition will reopen on 8 July. 

Room 91a

Accessed via Room 90, view the Museum map.

Exhibition audio guide

Listen on the Audio app, available on the App Store, App Store (China mainland) and Google Play


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This masterpiece is considered a milestone in Chinese painting history.

Traditionally attributed to Gu Kaizhi (about AD 345–406), it probably dates to between AD 400 and 700. Due to conservation precautions, it can only be displayed for six weeks a year.

The Admonitions Scroll depicts a poetic text composed by an official Zhang Hua (about AD 232–300) aimed at correcting the behaviour of an empress. The Scroll carries inscriptions by later collectors including the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736–1795). The British Museum purchased the Scroll from Captain Clarence Johnson (1870–1937) who was in Beijing in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion (1899–1901). Originally a handscroll, the painting and later inscriptions were separated and mounted onto panels in 1914.

Visiting information

  • The Admonitions Scroll will be on display from 8 July 18 August 2024. Due to conservation precautions, it can only be displayed for six weeks each year. 
  • Visiting information will be available nearer the time. 
  • Non-Museum guided tours and tour groups, regardless of size, will not be permitted.
  • Hand-held photography and video recording (without flash) is allowed in the gallery for private purposes only.
  • In line with current government and NHS guidance, face masks are not mandatory, but guests are welcome to wear them if they wish.
  • If you want to see the Admonitions Scroll throughout the year, or focus in on a specific detail, a digital screen of the scroll is available in Room 33: China and South Asia on the First Floor.