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A mission to preserve traditional woodworking

By Xing Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-29 14:23
[Photo provided to China Daily]

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A former joiner has turned an old mansion in Beijing into a museum that aims to educate the public about the value of ancient carpentry, Xing Wen reports.

Within a village in Taihu town in Beijing's Tongzhou district stands a quaint country mansion that was turned into the capital's first private museum devoted to traditional Chinese woodworking.

Covering an area of 10,000 square meters, the museum has five exhibition halls in which woodworks ranging from utensils to adornments to waterwheels and canoes are displayed and classified into over 40 categories.

In one of the rooms, a wide variety of tools with which woodworkers use to construct furniture and houses are fastened on the wall. Stakes made with different types of timber are also neatly arranged in a row, with captions introducing their characteristics and the intricacy of the time-honored craft put up for visitors to read.

Pacing around the museum, one will find that wooden objects such as buckets, chairs, cabinets, shoulder poles, ploughs, steelyards and carriages that were widely used by laborers in the past dominate the exhibition space.

"I prefer to collect these antiques that are highly related to ordinary people's daily lives," explains Wang Wenwang, a 50-year-old carpenter who is the founder and director of the museum. "In this way, visitors can discover how important woodworking is in providing us with the basic necessities in life."

Wang says that he always researches the background information of his artifacts through reading books on joinery, architecture and folk culture before displaying them. He even has two storage spaces where, with the help of seven assistants, he can repair, sort and produce fine replicas of wooden antiques, especially those from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).

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