Yang Shilei Architectural Archives Shown in Beijing
2004-8-24 21:51:47     CRIENGLISH.com
An exhibition of the Yangshilei architectural archives is being held in Beijing. Yangshilei is a name for the famous Lei architectural family of the Qing Dynasty. The exhibition introduces, for the first time, the craftsmanship and special features of this unique architectural style.
Nearly one hundred masterpieces from the Lei family's architectural archives are now on display at the National Library of China in Beijing. The designs are all by the Lei family in the Qing Dynasty, about three hundred years ago. The Lei family got the name Yang Shilei after heading the Imperial Construction Department of the Qing Dynasty for seven generations. Su Pinhong, an associate research librarian at the library, tells us their aim in holding the exhibition. 

"We are holding the exhibition to publicize Yang Shilei's contributions to imperial architecture. The 100 excellent items on show are selected from 15,000 pieces. We are planning to exhibit more from their archives at home and abroad in the future and publish them in a series of books."

Librarian Su Pinhong points out that the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, as well as the Western and Eastern Qing Tombs around Beijing, were all designed by the Lei family. Architects say the numerous imperial buildings designed by them are wonders in Chinese architectural history. One fifth of China's historic sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List are masterpieces by the Yang Shilei family.

Some one thousand visitors have already come to the exhibition. Liu Zheng is an ancient architecture enthusiast and a member of the Beijing Cultural Relics Protection Association. He explains the importance of preserving this kind of archive. 

"Since childhood, I have had a special interest in ancient buildings and traditional Chinese culture. But few people in China today know about the architectural family, because in ancient China craftsmen didn't win the recognition they deserved. In my opinion, the exhibition is the best way to let the public know about the Yang Shilei family's architectural designs. Furthermore, the archives can serve as references for us in repairing and reconstructing ancient architecture."

Being so important, the Yang Shilei architectural archives have been submitted for inclusion in UNESCO's Memory of the World project for the protection of ancient documents. This will help ensure that generations to come will be able to marvel at this precious treasure of both China and the World's architectural history.

Li Gang, CRI news.
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