|Ahn Luh Lanting resort in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province features antique houses and furniture from Qin Tongqian's collection.
Old houses and classic Chinese furniture get a new lease on life as an eager collector is turning his passion into luxury resorts, Xu Junqian reports in Shanghai.
It's sheer understatement to say Qin Tongqian is a collector of century-old houses.
What the 50-year-old businessman has been collecting for more than half of his life bears an uncanny resemblance to Lego, the twice-named "toy of the century", except that the world of his collections is a real one.
His three warehouses, scattered in the suburbs of Shanghai and neighboring cities, are like gigantic walk-in closets, in which quaint Chinese-style wood doors, windows, pillars and all kinds of furniture are neatly separated by genres and fill each room to the brim.
A single piece from the staggering collection could easily excite historians, scholars and antique collectors in the country and probably command a good price if sold, say, millions of yuan for a bed. But for Qin, a high-school graduate who made his windfall by contracting garden work since the 1980s for expats in Shanghai, "these pastime gadgets" simply make him "comfortable".
"Women love clothes and shoes, some men love sports and cars. I happen to have a penchant for the old stuff," says Qin, standing in one of his warehouses, an abandoned military base in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, the hometown of the self－dubbed "collecting maniac".
His penchant began in 1988, when he came across a set of traditional Chinese furniture in the home of a foreigner, one of his clients. At the time, people were busy replacing their decade－or even century-old furniture with brand-new Western pieces as the reform and open-up policy brought a new world to the country.
"It was like a cultural crush, reminding me how beautiful they are", as he put it.