A restored Hui-style building at the new Beauty Life Cultural Park in the Pudong New Area (Jiang Xiaowei/SHINE)
Six well-preserved historical Hui-style buildings were unveiled this week at the new Beauty Life Cultural Park in the Pudong New Area.
Hui-style architecture can be traced back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and was developed by families living in the Huizhou region (now mostly in Huangshan City in east China's Anhui Province).
The buildings were taken down brick by brick in Huangshan and rebuilt in Shanghai at the JinGang Museum — part of the cultural park, and located at 888 Yuanzhong Road.
"We have protected more than 500 Hui-style buildings in Anhui Province and Zhejiang Province," said Lorraine Wang, the museum's deputy curator. "Many of them were facing destruction for local people neglected the cultural value that lies in the buildings."
Compared to other watertown style architecture, Hui-style has its own characteristics.
"Hui-style buildings often look more dignified as the walls of the buildings is taller and the wooden pillars are thicker and stronger," said Professor Ruan Yisan, an expert from Tongji University.
Most Hui-style buildings have halls and archways to honor family ancestors. They also use carved beams and pillars as decoration to show the wealth of a family.
One of the buildings — Guiqu Mansion — was built in 1589. It is said that it once belonged to a famous calligrapher Zhu Shilu in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The carves on its beams illustrate the story of the eight immortals crossing the sea, an ancient Chinese myth. Some of the pillars have become distorted with age but have been preserved in their natural state.
"It is truly a pity that some damage to the buildings is irreparable," said Tao Ye, a manager at the cultural park. "We tried our best to present authentic Hui culture so we did not use a new pillar to replace the damaged one."
However, new wooden supports were linked to the damaged pillars to strengthen them.
Ruan said more and more Hui-style buildings were being protected and some of the ancient techniques were being used in new buildings.
"Two villages in Anhui Province, Hongcun and Xidi, are listed as world cultural heritage," said Ruan. But he also pointed out that many buildings in remote villages are still in need of attention and protection.
Apart from the six buildings in the park, Gangtai Group — the park's parent company — is protecting about 500 buildings in rural areas in Anhui, Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces.
The museum is divided into 10 sections. In the modern art section, 61 paintings by famous artists are displayed, including "Horse" by Xu Beihong, "Shrimps" by Qi Baishi and "Portrait of a Lady" by Lin Fengmian.
The museum also has a vast collection of Pu'er tea. The oldest brick tea dates back to the early 20th century.