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"Forbidden garden" to be renovated and accessible
2006-03-01 20:27:21 Xinhua English

Forbidden City(file photo)

BEIJING, March. 2-- The Qianlong Garden in the northeastern section of the Forbidden City will receive a US$12 million face-lift by the Palace Museum, administrative organ of the Forbidden City, and the New York-based World Monuments Fund, according to an agreement signed in the palace yesterday by the two sides.

Experts involved will come from the Palace Museum, the Washington-based Smithsonian Institute and a few private institutes in the United States, Bonnie Burnham, president of the foundation, told China Daily.

Houghton Freeman and his wife from the US have already sent the first donations.

A European Rococo mural depicting Qing royal concubines came into view, as the red-lacquered door opened to the dilapidated Lodge of Jade Purity in the still-forbidden part of the Forbidden City.

Created with perfect perspective techniques, which originated in Europe during the Renaissance, the mural is one of the numerous treasures found in the 230-year-old, 6,400-square-metre Qianlong Garden, which will open to the public in 2016 at the end of a 10-year conservation project undertaken by Chinese and US experts.

"I was born in Beijing more than 80 years ago. After the Forbidden City opened to the public in 1925, my family and I visited it many times, but have never been to this part, so it is an honour for me to help show the garden to the public," Burnham said in the Lodge of Ancient Trees next door to the garden, where the signing ceremony was held.

The Qianlong Garden, which Emperor Qianlong(reign 1736-1795) had built for his retirement in the early years of his enthronement, cost the royals 1.4 million taels of silver by its completion in 1776, according to Li Ji, executive deputy director of the Palace Museum.

It has remained virtually untouched since that time, while other parts of the Forbidden City underwent continuous changes throughout the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911).

Besides the corridors, artificial hills and bridges placed artistically among the buildings, the Qianlong Garden is unique in the interior decorations of its buildings, according to Burnham of the American foundation.

The designers used the best traditional material and techniques, together with tromp l'oeil paintings and perspective techniques from the West, to create a rich and elegant imperial interior space, while exemplifying the cultural differences between the East and the West.

(Source: China Daily)

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