Chinese emperor’s residence to be restored

Beijing, Dec 19 (IANS) One of the buildings at Beijing’s Palace Museum most closely associated with the imperial era is to undergo a major renovation based on traditional construction techniques, a media report said on Saturday.

The Hall of Mental Cultivation, the residence of the last eight Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors, was partially restored in the early 1980s. The 3,800-sq-m Hall of Mental Cultivation, built in 1537, served in part as a place for emperors to meet officials, the People’s Daily reported.

Emperor Yongzheng (1678-1735) was the first monarch to live there, and the building witnessed the early days of the reign of the legendry Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908).

The Palace Museum also known as Forbidden City was China’s imperial palace from 1420 to 1911.

Palace Museum Director Shan Jixiang said of the restoration: “It’s more of a scientific research than construction project. As long as the original components can still be used, we’ll not replace them with new materials.”

Shan regretted that some previous restorations in the palace employed professional construction companies that were not the best choices, despite their efficiency, because they lacked expertise in traditional Chinese palace construction.

The new restoration will strictly comply with old royal files on the hall, and Shan said the project will enrich their experience on the conservation of palace constructions and explore methods of revitalizing endangered traditional renovation techniques among young generations.

“Each worker at the restoration site will receive a year of training,” he said.

The project is expected to be completed by 2020 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City.

Only a 1,000-sq-m area of the hall has been open to the public.

During the restoration, some cultural relics housed in Hall of Mental Cultivation will be exhibited at the Capital Museum in Beijing.

The Palace Museum tentatively plans to open its digital exhibition hall next week to present virtual displays of treasures such as paintings and calligraphy works.

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