China: Yunnan: #7 The Zhu Garden and Mansion, Jianshui (Part c)

One of the rooms in the Zhu Garden residence held clues to the real Zhu family. We had seen their house, their furniture, their paintings and vases and now we could see them … through a series of old photos… which I, in turn, photographed. I don’t know exactly who is who, but the photos give a sense of the people who lived in this place more than a century ago!

DSC00924 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00924 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00926 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00926 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00927 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00927 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00928 © DY opf jtdytravels

DSC00928 © DY of jtdytravels

This was not your average Chinese family of the time. This was a family who lived in plenty. After moving to this area, they built up their businesses, purchasing real estate, founding ‘grinderies’ (mills), and selling wine. They set up tin ore firms. They had shops widely distributed in Yunnan, Sichuan, Guandong and Hong Kong… shops that sold provisions such as cotton yarns, cloth, tin and indeed, opium. They became one of the top eight trading names in Yunnan. Their wealth brought them prestige and they became important bureaucrats under the late Qing regime.

DSC00921 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00921 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00922 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00922 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00923 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00923 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00925 © DY of travels

DSC00925 © DY of travels

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DSC00929 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00929 © DY of jtdytravels

During their time here, there was much disquiet in China. The Qing court, racked by corruption and incompetence, failed to contain foreign intrusions into China. The opium wars ensued. Then, following the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Yunnan came under the control of local warlords, like the Zhu family, who had more than the usual degree of autonomy due to Yunnan’s remoteness. They financed their regime through opium harvesting. They had become embroiled in both the political and military ‘games’ of those very volatile times.

DSC00938 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00938 © DY of jtdytravels

A couple of photos showed what happened to anyone captured fighting on the ‘wrong’ side! Off with his head… it was then put in a basket and hung on a wall. A very graphic message?!

DSC00935 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00935 © DY of jtdytravels

The last leader of  Zhu family was Lieutenant General Zhu Chaoying.  However, as a Chinese proverb puts it, “the rising wind forbodes the coming storm”. This family was directly affected by all of the twists and turns of political events in the early 1900s. There were sharp changes in the social situations of the elite and wealthy during and after the downfall of the last Imperial dynasty and the rise of the Republic of China. The Zhu families fortunes began to fall away. As one of the signs said, “The rise and fall of the Zhu Family mirrors the modern history of Yunnan in an age of rapid change across China.”  They’d had their days of glory.

DSC00967 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00967 © DY of jtdytravels

However, fortunately, the residence and the gardens they built, remain today for us to have a glimpse into life as it was then. After learning something of the family’s story, it was time to go out and explore the larger garden area. But on the way there, we enjoyed seeing yet more of the work of skilled masons and carpenters, of artists and potters and calligraphers; ordinary people whose work has not been forgotten.

DSC00950 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00950 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00950 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00950 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00961 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00961 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00971 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00971 © DY of jtdytravels

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DSC00973 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00973 © DY of jtdytravels

This had been a very special experience, one that I thoroughly recommend.

More about the gardens anon.

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

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