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April
Heritage Museum features Huizhou architecture
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The art of Huizhou architecture will be featured at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum from tomorrow (April 13) until July 11.

The exhibition features a selection of models, component parts of buildings, artifacts and furniture from Anhui Provincial Museum and local designer Kai Yin Lo.

Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Anhui Provincial Museum, the "Huizhou Vernacular Architecture" exhibition showcases more than 120 sets of exquisite wood, brick and stone carvings from Huizhou. Along with a reconstruction of a main hall and a study room of a typical Huizhou dwelling, the exhibition enables the visitors to get a better understanding of traditional Huizhou, its beauty and cultured elegance, as well as a taste of the idyllic enclave.

Under the jurisdiction of Huizhou is the mountainous region of Southern Anhui, covering the Yellow Mountain, Qiyun Mountain and the upper reaches of Xinan River. Its unique geographical environment provided the migrant officials and scholars a safe haven from wars and other upheavals, and an idyllic pastoral setting in which to live and indulge in the beauty of nature.

During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), the emergence of a class of Hui merchants saw the flourishing of luxurious mansions, renovation of ancestral halls, and construction of roads, bridges and memorial archways.

Among the various local dwellings, the renowned villages of Xidi and Hongcun were listed as the world heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2000.

Huizhou architecture is the embodiment of the aesthetic and ethical values of the region, evolving from the geographical settings of the area. It reflects the Confucian upbringing of the Huizhou merchants, whose practical wit blended perfectly with a serene sense of elegance.

Most of the villages in the region are set in a north-south orientation, facing their water source and a mountain barrier to the rear. The whitewashed walls topped with grey tiles, the soaring tiered gables and the high enclosing walls are all typical features.

The courtyards are mostly surrounded by buildings in multiple, symmetric rows. Portraits of ancestors are hung in the main halls, together with paintings and calligraphies of renowned masters -- all very typical of the Confucian legacies of Huizhou. The courtyards adjoining the main halls are sources of light and ventilation. Rainwater is gathered and drained from these courtyards, taking on the propitious meaning of "all waters converge at the hall", denoting the accumulation of wealth and happiness. The ancestral halls, memorial archways and gardens too, are manifestations of the art of Huizhou architecture.

Decorative brick, stone and wood carvings, the renowned "Three carvings" of Huizhou traditional dwellings are focal features which add to the charms of its architecture. Such carvings are commonly seen on dwellings, ancestral halls and memorial archways, door canopies, columns, brackets, beams and window panels.

Apart from being pragmatic architectural components, the carvings provide details of aesthetic interest to the buildings. The subjects of the carvings varied from landscapes and folklores to the more popular historical anecdotes, scenes from folk operas and auspicious motifs, all part and parcel of the aesthetic and values of the Huizhou people.

To coincide with the exhibition, a fully illustrated catalogue will be available at the Gift Shop of the Heritage Museum.

Located at 1 Man Lam Road in Sha Tin, the Heritage Museum opens from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday, and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10, with a half-price concession for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and full-time students. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

A free shuttle bus operates between the Sha Tin KCR Station and the Heritage Museum from 10am to 6pm on Saturdays and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. From June 27 onwards, the shuttle bus will operate from 1pm to 6pm on Saturdays and from 1pm to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays.

Car parking is available at the Heritage Museum. Those who prefer to make use of public transport may take the KCR Ma On Shan line to the Che Kung Temple station, which is within five minutes' walk of the Museum.

For enquiries, call 2180 8188. For details of the exhibition, visit the Heritage Museum's website at http://hk.heritage.museum/ .

Ends/Tuesday, April 12, 2005
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