Exquisite bonsai among high-rise buildings — Caihefang No. 24 Courtyard

2016-09-02 15:46 千龙网

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In the Zhongguancun area full of commercial atmosphere, there is a courtyard house hidden among the high-rise buildings called Caihefang No. 24 Courtyard. The courtyard house looks like a bonsai placed among the surrounding high-rise buildings as a Chinese saying goes “A real hermit lives in the bustling place”.

The gate of Caihefang No. 24 Courtyard [Photo/Qianlong]

The gate of Caihefang No. 24 Courtyard [Photo/Qianlong]

The inscription of “Caihefang” by the calligrapher Ouyang Zhongshi [Photo/Qianlong]

The courtyard house was built by Li Lianying who was a highly influential imperial eunuch during the reign of Emperor Guang Xu (1871-1908) in Qing Dynasty. It is said that Li spared no expense to build this exquisite courtyard house to flatter Empress Dowager Cixi for the use of having a rest on the way to the Summer Palace.

The courtyard house was recorded in details as follows, “The house is divided into two sections. The western section is the residential area while the eastern section is a garden. It can be equaled to a second-ranking official’s mansion equipped with rockeries, plants and pavilions.

Caihefang No. 24 Courtyard is listed as one of the Haidian District’s Protected Cultural Relics in 1999, Beijing. [Photo/Qianlong]

Today this well-preserved courtyard house has a new name Chaojiangchun Hall which is a restaurant. The courtyard house was rebuilt and expanded in 2004 and designers chose to expand and renovate it on the basis of the old courtyard house so as to substantially maintain the appearance and integrity of the original courtyard. The whole project lasted eight months, and the new courtyards of the same style were added in the east of the old courtyard.

The interior scene of the new courtyards in the east [Photo/Qianlong]

The interior scene of the new courtyards in the east [Photo/Qianlong]

Now there are two groups of parallel courtyards connected by a long corridor in Caihefang No. 24 Courtyard. The original old courtyards lie in the west which are named after four tree names of bamboo, yulan magnolia, malus spectabilis and crape myrtle, while the new courtyards lie in the east named after the four seasons.

A yulan magnolia tree grows in the old courtyards. [Photo/Qianlong]

The long corridor links the old courtyards and the new courtyards. [Photo/Qianlong]

Festooned doors commonly seen in old style courtyard houses are the boundary and the only entrance to the inner courtyard from the front courtyard. In ancient China, young ladies from a wealthy and influential family seldom stepped out of the festooned gate to go outside and the family’s manservants were also prohibited to enter this gate. The festooned door in Caihefang No. 24 Courtyard is very exquisite, especially the two square carvings on the door eaves with countless small plum flowers.

The festooned door in the old courtyards [Photo/Qianlong]

The house is also well-known for a large beautiful peony screen wall with brick carvings. It has intricately carved peonies and magpies, the symbols of wealth and status, in the heart and borders with hollow brick carvings of plum blossom, orchids, bamboos, lotus flowers, and magpies. Now it’s rarely seen to have such a large and well-preserved brick-carving screen wall in a courtyard house in Beijing.

The peony brick-carving screen wall in the old courtyards [Photo/Qianlong]

In the old courtyards, houses are connected by winding corridors to ensure that people won’t get wet in the rain. The scattered ornaments and century-old trees in the courtyards are a witness to the ups and downs of the courtyard house.

A stalagmite in the old courtyards [Photo/Qianlong]

Taihu stones in the old courtyards [Photo/Qianlong]

A white marble fish jar in the old courtyards [Photo/Qianlong]

Houses are connected by winding corridors in the old courtyards. [Photo/Qianlong]

Crape myrtle trees grow in the old courtyards. [Photo/Qianlong]

责任编辑:Ai Ting(QN0043)