Yin Yu Tang: The Architecture and Daily Life of a Chinese House

Yin Yu Tang: The Architecture and Daily Life of a Chinese House

by Nancy Berliner


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With hundreds of photographs and a wealth of information, Yin Yu Tang tells the history of a traditional Chinese house and the fascinating stories of its occupants.

In the late Qing dynasty, around the year 1800, a prosperous Chinese merchant named Huang built a house for his family in a remote village southwest of Shanghai. He called the home Yin Yu Tang which means Hall of Abundant Shelter—implying his desire for the building to shelter many of his descendants. For seven generations, members of the Huang family ate, slept, laughed, cried, married and gave birth in the house.

By the mid-1990s, the surviving members of the Huang family had moved away from Yin Yu Tang to take jobs in the cities. In 2003 the house found a new home as a permanent exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. This book, with its room-by-room, generation-by-generation documentation of life in the house, serves as a unique and invaluable introduction to traditional Chinese family and village life.

Nancy Berliner, one of the country's foremost experts on Chinese furniture and arts, takes the reader on a tour of this unique homestead providing detail on Chinese architecture, construction methods, decoration, furniture and family heirlooms. She weaves a story of domestic life in Chinese culture by explaining the traditions of the family who lived here—especially their love and respect for family and ancestors. She also documents the remarkable restoration and reconstruction of Yin Yu Tang, truly a treasure trove of Chinese history.

With hundreds of photographs, scores of primary documents, and thousands of fascinating details, Yin Yu Tang: The Architecture and Daily Life of a Chinese House offers a vivid portrait of everyday life in traditional China.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804844420
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Publication date: 05/20/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Nancy Berliner is currently the Wu Tung Curator of Chinese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She previously held the position of curator of Chinese art at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, where she spearheaded and curated the Yin Yu Tang house project. She also serves as a consultant to the World Monuments Fund on the Forbidden City's Qianlong Garden conservation project. She has lectured throughout the world including at Harvard University, Dartmouth College, University of California at Berkeley, Asia Society, La Sorbonne in Paris, Tel Aviv University, Palace Museum and World Art Museum in Beijing. She has written for the New York Times, Asian Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Asian Art, and Orientations magazines.

Table of Contents

1. The history, culture and geography of the Huizhou region—portrait of a prosperous merchant culture
2. The architecture of the Chinese house—feng shui, construction methods, craftspeople, etc.
3. The Huang family—seven generations of Chinese family life at Yin Yu Tang
4. Ornament and objects—the cultural messages of decorations, furniture, family heirlooms, etc.
5. Yin Yu Tang in America—the restoration and reconstruction at the Peabody Essex Museum

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