Restoring the face of Summer Palace

( Xinhua ) Updated: 2014-10-05 13:45:58

Restoring the face of Summer Palace

The Summer Palace in Beijing. [Photo by Bao Xinguo/Asianewsphoto]

Tourists at Beijing's Summer Palace, China's largest imperial garden, may not even notice a humble wall, but chief restorer, Dong Guomin, believes his work is meaningful.

Restoring the face of Summer Palace

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"The renovation of the wall will help maintain the integrity and look of the garden," said Dong, who has spent 35 years working in the garden, built in Beijing's western suburbs during the final imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911), which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.

2014 is the centennial of the opening of the Summer Palace to the public. Refurbishment of over 1,800 meters of wall enclosing the garden is scheduled to be completed in March next year.

Although the wall may seem trivial compare with the sumptuous residences of the old nobility, Dong's team is required to stick to the same restoration rules. Crumbling sections are being rebuilt and some misguided modern additions and repairs are being removed. The team uses the same yellow-brown Hupi stone and pointing as the original imperial craftsmen, over 200 years ago.

"We hope the restored wall is in keeping with its surroundings but traditional methods mean the work takes longer and unusual skills are required," Dong said.

Since 2000, 10 major projects, with each costing over 5 million yuan (about $813,000), have spruced up the main entrance, pier, art gallery and other parts of the palace and gardens.

Based on Qing Dynasty rules, the renovation complies with the principle of "no change to the original status" and corrects "mistakes" made during pervious work, according to Li Kun at the palace admin office.

In the most costly part of the restoration project, around 28 hectares of rice paddy, irrigation systems and mulberry groves--destroyed by Anglo-French forces in 1860 and later occupied by factories and homes--were restored at a cost to Beijing more than 100 million yuan.

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