‘Scholar-official’ is a generic term used to refer to ancient scholars who rose to the upper-class of society through doing great in the imperial examinations of different levels conducted across the country. Usually, they specialized in Confucian classics and four arts, i.e. Qin (Chinese stringed instrument), Qi (Chinese chess), Shu (Chinese calligraphy) and Hua (Chinese painting).
For most Scholar-officials in history, politics were their priority. They were ambitious with some focusing on climbing to the top of the ruling class and some eager to serve their country even if it may cost their lives. In the meantime, for the education they had received, they were destined to be the successor and creator of Chinese traditional culture like literature, calligraphy, painting, seal-engraving, collecting etc. A look into this special class helps to understand Hangzhou culture if not the entire Chinese culture even better.