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October
Precious old photos capture Beijing's past
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The spirit of ancient Beijing has been captured in an exhibition of about 280 old photos revealing the lifestyle, customs and architectural features of this unique city.

“Beijing in the Past – An Exhibition of the Old Pictures Collected by Capital Library of China” will be displayed at the Exhibition Gallery of the Hong Kong Central Library (HKCL) from Saturday (October 8) to November 4.

The mottled old photos have been selected from thousands of pictures at the Capital Library of China. They capture the essence of the ancient capital – from monumental city walls and palaces to colourful temple fairs, weddings and camel teams trotting on the roadways. Old Beijing comes alive with scenes such as a plum syrup booth, a street barber and shadow play performed on the street.

To coincide with the exhibition, the Deputy Director of the Capital Library of China, Mr Han Pu will host a talk, “Revisiting the old Beijing on Historic Photos” in Putonghua on Saturday (October 8) at 3pm at the Lecture Theatre of the HKCL.

Jointly presented by the Hong Kong Public Libraries of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and Capital Library of China, the exhibition is categorised into five themes, “Looks of Old Beijing”, “Life in the Old Capital”, “Customs of Old Beijing”, “Famous People of Old Beijing” and “Reminiscences of the Capital Gate”.

Beijing's ancient town planning consists of three concentric circles encompassing the Imperial City, the Inner City and the Outer City. Right in the centre is the magnificent Imperial Palace, surrounded by imposing walls and battlements. Streets criss-cross each other segmenting the city into grids, which are overlaid by numerous bystreets housing countless historic and cultural sites.

“Looks of Old Beijing” features city walls, streets and lanes, gardens, temples and palace halls including Yongdingmen, the biggest gate of the outer city and Andingmennei Street which was once the most important thoroughfare with numerous shops.

“Life in the Old Capital” features scenes of daily life such as markets and street performances.

“Customs of Old Beijing” has scenes from large temple fairs, festivals, traditional weddings and funerals.

“Famous People of Old Beijing” includes snapshots of the Empress Dowager, Cixi; the Last Emperor, Pu Yi; opera singer Mei Lanfang; and scholars Hu Shi and Lao She.

“Reminiscences of the Capital Gate” records historical events like the 12-day restoration conducted by Zhang Xun, the Song Po Library set up in 1925 and Fuliancheng Ke Ban, the traditional opera house where famous actors such as Ma Linliang, Tan Fuying and Yuan Shihai were brought up.

Guided tours conducted by staff of the Capital Library of China will be held at 5pm on October 8, 3pm and 4.30pm on October 15, 22 and 29. The tours will be in Putonghua. For registration, please call 2921 0286.

The exhibition opens from 10am to 8pm. Enquiries can be made at 2921 0285 or you can browse the website at http://www.hkpl.gov.hk .


Ends/Tuesday, October 4, 2005
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