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

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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

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DSC00925 © DY of travels

DSC00925 © DY of travels

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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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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

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

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more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

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China: Yunnan: #5 The Zhu Garden and Mansion, Jianshui (Part a)

After dropping off our ‘stuff’ in the hotel, we ventured back out onto the streets of Jianshui. It was already 15.30, so it was time to get going again to explore.

DSC00861 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00861 © DY of jtdytravels

The street near the hotel was busy with shoppers… but not one was a westerner. Jianshui is still not on many tourist itineraries.

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On one of the side streets we came across a young man painting a sign above a new gallery.

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He happily acknowledged us before going back to his work.

 

DSC00862 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00862 © DY of jtdytravels

We’d checked out the town map and walked with a plan in mind… to find the Zhu Gardens and Mansion. Further along, in Hanlin Street, we found the main entrance gate.

DSC00866 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00866 © DY of jtdytravels

The ornate gate heralded what was to come as we entered this place sometimes referred to as the ‘Grand View Garden’.  All of the buildings have saddle-shaped roofs and elaborately painted crossbeams and ceilings.

DSC01020 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01020 © DY of jtdytravels

The layout of the complex is based on a fairly simple grid pattern.

DSC00869 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00869 © DY of jtdytravels

Within this layout there are 42 Tianjing (courtyards) and 214 pavilions and towers… lots to see! The whole complex covers many hectares and we just wandered between courtyards and rooms taking photos as we went. So, over the next few musing posts, you can join us as the photos lead us through this maze of buildings, a peep into China’s past in the late 1800s early 1900s.

DSC00870 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00870 © DY of jtdytravels

The roofs were covered in the traditional Chinese glazed tubular tiles. These are made of clay in a wooden tube-shaped mould. Each pipe is then cut into halves along their length, producing two semicircular tubular tiles. These are overlapped in lines down the roof. When these tiles are used on an eave edge, circular ends are often added, these usually moulded with the pattern of dragon.

DSC00865 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00865 © DY of jtdytravels

There are many ornately carved and painted wood panels.

DSC00867 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00867 © DY of jtdytravels

The garden’s penjing, or bonsai, collection is scattered throughout the various courtyards. Although best known in the west as a Japanese art form, this form of training and miniaturisation of plants in a pot originated in China.

DSC00868 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00868 © DY of jtdytravels

 

These lovely bonsai appear to be very old. They have been created to mimic the shape and style of the mature, full-size trees. Cultivation techniques such as pruning, root reduction, and grafting are used over a long period of time to produce this effect.

DSC00872 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00872 © DY of jtdytravels

A circular opening, known as a ‘moon gate’, lead us into the next courtyard.

DSC00875 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00875 © DY of jtdytravels

We had entered the courtyard of the Embroidery Tower, the only two story building in the residence. Here, in former days, female members of the Zhu family enjoyed recreational activities including reading and embroidery. It was later used as a ‘home school’ for the Zhu children.

DSC00876 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00876 © DY of jtdytravels

A larger Bonsai dominated this courtyard. Its stone label, in three languages, told us that this was a Bougainvillea spectabilis. In flower it would indeed be spectacular.

DSC00878 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00878 © DY of jtdytravels

Further along, we came to the doorway of one of the rooms in the residence, the doorway again flanked by Bonsai.  A sign in the complex explained that the main residence is typical of Jianshui architecture of the time: “three bedrooms with six side rooms, three living rooms with three side rooms attached in the rear, as well as one major courtyard and four attached small courtyards.”

DSC00879 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00879 © DY of jtdytravels

A peep inside the room… anyone for a game of cards?

DSC00881 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00881 © DY of jtdytravels

Yellow chrysanthemums grew beside another ornate door way.

DSC00883 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00883 © DY of jtdytravels

The chrysanthemums had been heavily pruned and trained. 

DSC00884 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00884 © DY of jtdytravels

The central shoot of the plant had been nipped out and the resulting side shoots had been trained to the outside edge of the pot and then allowed to grow upwards. Very spidery!

DSC00887 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00887 © DY of jtdytravels

Inside this ‘room’, in fact a linking passageway, were a couple of chairs but, although we could have done with a bit of a rest by then, they did not look at all comfortable!

I’ll return with more photos of the Zhu Gardens and Mansion in my next post.

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.dymusings.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.jtdytravels.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels