In the late Qing dynasty, around the year 1800, a prosperous Chinese merchant named Huang built a house for his family in a remote village southwest of Shanghai. He named the house Yin Yu Tang which means Hall of Abundant Shelter—implying his desire for the building to shelter many of his descendants. For seven generations, members of the Huang family ate, slept, laughed, cried, married and gave birth in the house.
By the mid-1990s, the surviving members of the Huang family had moved away from Yin Yu Tang to take jobs in the cities. In 2003 the house found a new home as a permanent exhibit in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. This book, with its room-by-room, generation-by-generation documentation of life in the house, serves as a unique and invaluable introduction to traditional Chinese family and village life.
Nancy Berliner, one of the country's foremost experts on Chinese furniture and arts, takes the reader on a tour of this unique homestead providing detail on Chinese architecture, construction methods, decoration, furniture and family heirlooms. She weaves a story of domestic life in Chinese culture by explaining the traditions of the family who lived here—especially their love and respect for family and ancestors. She also documents the remarkable restoration and reconstruction of Yin Yu Tang, truly a treasure trove of Chinese history.
With hundreds of photographs, scores of primary documents, and thousands of fascinating details, Yin Yu Tang: The Architecture and Daily Life of a Chinese House offers a vivid portrait of everyday life in traditional China.