Visiting a Preserved Monument

Chen Clan Shrine is a complex built by donations from people with the Chen surname. It existed before as a school and temporary residence for Chen descendants when they enter the city for official business or exams. Built in the 1890s, it witnessed the abolition of the imperial exams and has slowly lost its functions through the decades. In 1950s it was taken over by the city’s Cultural Department and restored.

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Currently, it preserved as a museum of folk arts. Some of the rooms have been converted to exhibition spaces and the entire complex is ticketed to the public.

The materials used in the construction and restoration of the Chen Shrine is typical of the buildings in this area – stone for anything that touches the floor, bricks for walls and timber for columns, windows and roofs. The connections between different parts of the building shows the different times when the materials are joint together. The sizes of bricks are also vary on different walls. All these are evidence that the building has been constructed at different times.

What I found also interesting was the patterning of brick walls in the complex. There is a white line that is much straighter than the mortar. This line is obviously decorative and used to create a strong visual brick patterns that sometimes might not correspond to the actual brick sizes. Why do they draw this line? What material is it?

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