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Old March 11th, 2012, 01:30 PM   #1
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Lost Historical Sites/Artifacts in China


As many of you probably know, much of China's historical heritage has been destroyed in the chaos of the past 200 years. Much of this was due to warfare, particularly the Taiping Rebellion, the Chinese Civil War, and the Japanese Invasion. The rest was a result of the Cultural Revolution and modernisation. Millions of historical relics were lost as a result of this. Consider this: In the city of Taiyuan alone, 190 temples were destroyed during the cultural revolution. The Japanese had already destroyed many of the temples in the region because they thought Chinese soldiers would use them for shelter. Then consider that in the Confucius Temple in Qufu alone, 3000 books and 1000 paintings were burnt. This was happening on a massive scale, all over China. It's a miracle that China still has a surprising wealth of surviving historical artifacts.

Anyway, I'm going to use this thread to compile images/info on some of the historical sites in China that were destroyed in the past 100 or so years. Maybe this will serve as an answer to those who wonder why so many of the historic buildings in China are recent reconstructions rather than originals.

Few people are aware that the City of Chengdu was once home to an Imperial Palace. During the Cultural Revolution, the Palace was Destroyed and replaced with a Soviet-styled building+square and a statue of Mao Zedong. All that remains of Chengdu's Palace are a few black and white photographs.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Buildings near the palace, all destroyed
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Click the image to open in full size.

Tianfu square today
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This was a Song dynasty hanging temple in the mountains of Fujian province. People today might associate certain elements of this style of architecture with Japanese Zen buddhism, when it is infact the Chan style of Song Chinese architecture. It perished in flames, along with a wealth of inscriptions and murals, in 1961

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Click the image to open in full size.
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Old March 11th, 2012, 04:59 PM   #2

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Another interesting thread.

Some old cities have been digitally recreated using virtual reality programs. It might be worthwhile to do that based on these pictures.
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Old March 11th, 2012, 05:38 PM   #3
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A fire destroyed parts of a 1,000 year old temple last year. The Fuhai Temple in Fuzhou, Fujian province was built by the Later Jin Dynasty in 945. I don't have a picture of the temple before the fire but this is what it looks like now:

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Old March 15th, 2012, 06:11 AM   #4
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Most ancient structures in China are not well protected. Last year, builders uncovered a segment of rampart built about 1000 years ago, in changsha, a city in south China. Although many citizens, scholars and medias appeal to reserve it, it will possibly be destroyed in order to build a square. It may be the most orbicular extant rampart of song dynasty !
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Old March 18th, 2012, 12:35 AM   #5

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As much as I hate to bring politics into a historical discussion, being a history buff it really makes my blood boil to think of the loss of so many historical artifacts to China's cultural revolution. The magnatude of the loss, not only to Chinese culture but to the world was great. An exibition of the first emperior of China's tarracotta army came to my town a few months back, it was amazing. I couldnt help but think what would have heppened to it had it been discovered just a couple years earlier, durring the height of the destruction of the "Four Olds"
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Old March 18th, 2012, 01:50 AM   #6

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I came across this one a few days ago.

Wudang_Mountains Wudang_Mountains

Quote:
On January 19, 2003, the 600-year-old Yuzhengong Palace at the Wudang Mountains was accidentally burned down by an employee of a martial arts school.[4] A fire broke out in the hall, reducing the three rooms that covered 200 square metres to ashes. A gold-plated statue of Zhang Sanfeng, which was usually housed in Yuzhengong, was moved to another building just before the fire, and so escaped destruction in the inferno.[5]


This article blames exploitation and poor management.

China's world heritage sites over-exploited

Quote:
BEIJING -- Some of China's world heritage sites are poorly managed, China's Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng admitted at a recent conference.
China even though they've lost quite a bit, they are really high on the World Heritage list in terms of volume.

That previous article mentions 33, but the wiki claims it's 41.

List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_China List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_China

Quote:
This is a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China. China has 41, ranking third in the world. China ratified The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage on December 12, 1985. These sites comprise some of the most essential part of China's valuable and rich tourism resources.

But, that Wudang Mountains, even though it is burnt down, it seems to still be on the list. I am unsure if the whole thing burnt down, or what, but it's a quite a building.

Or maybe, it used to be quite a building.

Click the image to open in full size.


(I guess if you are going to rent out a room in a 600 year old building to martial arts business, eventually something completely normal will happen.)

Last edited by MrKap; March 18th, 2012 at 01:56 AM.
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Old March 18th, 2012, 09:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geneo View Post
As much as I hate to bring politics into a historical discussion, being a history buff it really makes my blood boil to think of the loss of so many historical artifacts to China's cultural revolution. The magnatude of the loss, not only to Chinese culture but to the world was great. An exibition of the first emperior of China's tarracotta army came to my town a few months back, it was amazing. I couldnt help but think what would have heppened to it had it been discovered just a couple years earlier, durring the height of the destruction of the "Four Olds"
It is very tragic, although probably nearly as much of the damage is attributable to the pre-Communist turmoil and the post-Cultural-Revolution modernisation. It was already reported by visiting Japanese during the early 20th century that many of China's grandest temples had been ruined by warfare and the resulting inability to maintain them in the wartorn regions. The Cultural Revolution just worsened the situation when the government should have been doing everything to mitigate the damage. I give props to the current government for trying to remedy the situation to some extent, but some of it is irreversible. To put things in perspective, Hangzhou had over a thousand temples in the early 20thc. During the cultural revolution, the monks and priests were deemed "parasitic" because they lived off of donations and local farms, they did not produce anything. Most of the temples were destroyed/converted to other uses and the majority of the monks sent to their homes to work as labourers. This meant that the preserved artifacts in these temples could no longer be maintained, and those that weren't destroyed deliberately were destroyed through lack of upkeep. Amazingly the city still has a great many historical sites, but absolutely nowhere near what it once had.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrKap View Post
I came across this one a few days ago.

Wudang Mountains - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article blames exploitation and poor management.

China's world heritage sites over-exploited
Over exploitation and poor management are certainly huge issues. Too many times I've seen poorly reconstructed buildings advertised as "originals" just to make a quick buck. Many of them have been "restored" with aesthetically inappropriate and historically inaccurate/cheap materials and decorations. Others have hotels, restaraunts and tacky gift shops built right next to them. It's an unfortunate situation because there are certainly many people in China who care about authentic cultural heritage.

Quote:
China even though they've lost quite a bit, they are really high on the World Heritage list in terms of volume.

That previous article mentions 33, but the wiki claims it's 41.

List of World Heritage Sites in China - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Click the image to open in full size. List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_China
I think China is currently second in the world in terms of registered heritage sites - but they would have been first.


Quote:
But, that Wudang Mountains, even though it is burnt down, it seems to still be on the list. I am unsure if the whole thing burnt down, or what, but it's a quite a building.

Or maybe, it used to be quite a building.

Click the image to open in full size.


(I guess if you are going to rent out a room in a 600 year old building to martial arts business, eventually something completely normal will happen.)
The hall pictured is, thankfully, not the hall that burnt down. The Yuzhengong hall was a somewhat less grand (albeit beautiful) wooden hall located in another area of the Wudang mountains. Here it is, before and after the fire.

Click the image to open in full size.
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