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Cultural products bring history alive

Updated: 2023-04-20 08:19 ( China Daily )
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A visitor displays a scarf inspired by Dashuifa and other major scenic spots in Yuanmingyuan Park. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

The third edition of a design competition inspired by the Old Summer Palace is underway, Wang Kaihao reports.

Spreading over 350 hectares — five times the size of the Forbidden City — Yuanmingyuan, also known as the Old Summer Palace, in the northwest of Beijing, was perhaps the epitome of Chinese architectural splendor. The former royal resort of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was a magnificent compound that showed the best of the country's garden arts.

However, when it was set on fire in 1860 by the invading Anglo-French forces, numerous structures were burned down, and that also marked the start of many dark years over which most surviving architecture above the ground there was wiped out by further conflicts, social upheaval, and more commonly, just the passing of time. Nonetheless, Yuanmingyuan will never fade away from Chinese people's minds.

Decades of efforts to protect and revitalize the ruins through academic studies of documentations, old photos, archaeology among other things, seem to gradually recover the past prosperity of Yuanmingyuan from lost memory. However, more methods may be still needed to physically usher this cultural and psychological landmark to approach modern people's life.

In 2021, the administration of the Yuanmingyuan Park launched a project to collect ideas from the public to design cultural products, souvenirs or everyday articles with the theme of the Old Summer Palace. The initial event got enthusiastic feedback from the public, and its popularity turned an experiment into an annual design competition. The third edition of the competition was launched on Saturday, enabling the public to hand in their creative plans by the end of October.

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