Building the foundations of excellence

Updated: Apr 28, 2024 By Yang Feiyue China Daily Print
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A view of the ancestral house of Yangshi Lei.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Tucked away inside an ancient alley near the entrance of Xinzhuang village, the ancestral home of the prominent Lei family has been restored and turned into a museum that vividly recounts their tales.

The Leis were a clan of architects that prospered during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Many of their members once worked as chief architects for the Qing court and designed buildings which are now world cultural heritage sites, including the Summer Palace in Beijing and the Mountain Resort in Chengde, Hebei province.

The style they created is known today as Yangshi Lei. Yangshi means "model", and the architects of the Lei family always made architectural models of their projects on a scale of 1/100 or 1/200. When they were approved, construction would start, hence, the style was known as Yangshi Lei.

Upon entering the village in Yongxiu county, in the north of Jiangxi province, visitors are first greeted by two signs shaped like cross-sections of a tree trunk that immediately inform them of the village's status as the home of Yangshi Lei and the family's stories.

Moving deeper along the winding streets of the village, the ancestral home of the Lei family inadvertently emerges, setting itself apart from the other rural abodes with its black tiles, ancient bricks, and exquisite carvings.

"We've been strictly following the requirement of protection first and then restoring as the original, and have put in more than 10 million yuan ($1.38 million) for the renovation of the ancestral home of Yangshi Lei," says Qin Ling, Party secretary of Yongxiu.

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