(By Chen Lin) As a cradle of the Chinese civilization, Hubei Province in central China has many treasured artifacts. One of the most important historical legacies is ancient homes which remain to this day.
File photo: an ancient house in Hubei Province. Photo source: china.org.cn
With the improvement of living standards, many farmers wished to upgrade their homes and this resulted in ancient buildings being redecorated or even rebuilt. Construction of new roads and water conservancy projects further threatened the very fabric of the province. Work to protect what remains therefore becomes quite urgent.
The most valued of the properties are hidden in villages. Some were built by runaway royal maids, some by salt and tea merchants and others by the leaders of ethnic groups.
The dispersal of these properties increases the difficulties in protecting them. But Hubei Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau has devised a plan to protect these structures.
A museum is now under construction aiming at bringing all those ancient houses together for better protection on the one hand and on the other hand, for providing an easy access to view these highly treasured relics hidden away from view. All the admission income will be used to finance protection projects.
The museum is located in Mulanhu Scenery Area in Huangpi District of Wuhan City. The Hubei Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau bought the properties and numbered the bricks, beams, windows and other construction materials individually so they can be accurately rebuilt at the museum.
Approximately 40 million yuan (US$4.99 million) has been earmarked for moving 30 such properties to the museum. Thirteen of them, measuring from 200 to 1,000 square meters each, are now being rebuilt.
Apart from the rebuilding work, business and research centers and copies of some of the original buildings will be constructed at the museum.
The project got underway in September 2005 and will be finished in June 2007 and open to public four months later in October. The whole project will eventually cost 150 million yuan (US$18.71 million).
According to Shen Haining, vice director of the Hubei Provincial Culture Department, there are several ancient villages in the province, such as Dayuwan in Huangpi District, Qiliping in Hong'an Town and Baoshi in Tongshan County.
Ancient architecture as cultural heritage is not just about buildings but includes many other aspects such as the environment around a building, the decoration, the dwellers themselves and other cultural points of interest.