Professor joins hands in ancient architecture maintenance

Professor joins hands in ancient architecture maintenance
Wang Qijun works at a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) building maintenance site in Taining, Fujian province. [Photo by Huang Zhiling/chinadaily.com.cn]

Workers repairing an ancient building in Taining county in Fujian province had a pleasant surprise on Friday when they found an amiable co-worker is a renowned artist.

"Professor Wang Qijun worked as hard as any other worker in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) building that we thought the 62-year-old was an ordinary old worker," said Min Gong, a middle-aged worker.

Hailed as one of the 60 most influential Chinese painters after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Wang, a professor of the Beijing-based China Central Academy of Fine Arts, is famous for researching Chinese architecture, mingling with ordinary people and doing paintings in a true-to-life style.

During his visit to Taining in early January, Professor Wang held his painting exhibition, donated 200,000 yuan ($30,335) for maintaining ancient buildings in the county and worked at an ancient building maintenance site.

Min did not know Wang is an artist until he asked the hardworking professor to have a simple meal with other co-workers at the construction site and was impressed with his deep understanding of ancient building maintenance when they talked during the mealtime.

Taining, which literally means prosperity and peace, remains unknown to many Chinese. It got its name from Emperor Zhezong of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) in 1086.

The county is best known for the Danxia landforms. Danxia, which literally means red rock, refers to red-colored sandstones and formations of the Cretaceous age from 145 to 66 million years ago.

Together with Chishui in Guizhou province, Langshan Mountain in Hunan province, Danxia Mountain in Guangdong province, Longhu Mountain in Jiangxi province and Jianglang Mountain in Zhejiang province, Taining became one of China's six Danxia landforms included on the UNESCO's World Natural Heritage list in 2010.

Taining also boasts many ancient buildings. Shangshudi, or Residence of the Minister, is the best-known building dating back to the Ming Dynasty. The residence of Li Chunye (1571-1637), minister of national defense in the dynasty, is Fujian's largest and best preserved Ming residence.

"Built from 1623 to 1627, it covers more than 4,000 square meters and has 120 rooms made of bricks, stones and wood. Buildings are mainly one-story. Reign titles of two Ming emperors can be seen on wells, which are still used," said executive county magistrate Jiang Qiurong.

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