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[Peking University Landmark] Jingchun Garden

MAY . 14 2021
Peking University, May 14, 2021: Located at the north shore of Weiming Lake, Jingchun Garden is bordered by Langrun Garden in the north, Weiming Lake in the south, east wall of Peking University campus in the east, and Minghe Garden in the west.

Historical facts reveal that Jingchun Garden as well as Minghe Garden belongs to Chunxi Garden - one of the imperial gardens attached to the Old Summer Palace. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1736~1796), Chunxi Garden was given to Heshen, a favored courtier of the Emperor, thus it became a part of another garden, Shuchun Garden.

In the seventh year of Emperor Jiaqing’s reign (1802), Shuchun Garden was divided into two halves. The smaller piece of the eastern half, named “Jingchun Garden”, was given to Emperor Jiaqing’s forth daughter, Princess Zhuangjing. The larger half of the western garden, named “Minghe Garden”, was given to Emperor Jiaqing’s fifth son, Prince Mianyu. The main building area of Jingchun Garden is surrounded by watercourses, which are slightly round, much like a mirror so it was named Jingchun Garden (Mirror Spring Garden).

The path from Peking University’s first Gymnasiam to Langrun Garden at present was the boundary of these two gardens in the past. Lee Shau Kee Humanities Hall is located at the previous site of Jingchun Garden.

Notably, the Jingchun Garden suffered severe damage in 1860 (Emperor Xianfeng Period) during the Second Opium War as the Anglo-French forces conducted a near-complete destruction of the Old Summer palace. Despite all the strains of the Second Opium War, few architectures still exist in the Jingchun Garden.

In the early years of the Republic of China, Xu Shichang, one of the allies of Yuan Shikai and the President of the Republic of China from 1918 to 1922, bought Jingchun Garden and Minghe Garden at a low price and collectively named them as “Dianbei Garden”. Yenching University tried to buy Jingchun Garden from Xu but the negotiation was interrupted by the second Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Jingchun Garden was reestablished and was taken over by Peking University.

The current Jingchun Garden is quite different from what it used to be during the Qing Dynasty. The ancient Jingchun Garden was small and only occupied the space where the present Lee Shau Kee Humanities Hall is located. Although the Qing dynasty's architecture is no longer in existence, the pond in the west is still well-preserved.

In 2011, a pseudo-classic architecture complex in the Ming and Qing architectural style was built in the eastern wing of Peking University’s Department of Literary, History and Philosophy. It is called the “Humanities Hall”. The entire hall is organically divided into six areas that are either independent or mutually dependent according to their functional criteria, which greatly improves and meets several academic needs, such as teaching, scientific research, office work, conference gatherings, reading and studying, among others.

After more than a century of historical upheaval, most of the cultural relics and original sites have been damaged. Specifically, after the 1976 earthquake, a large number of humble cottages and illegal buildings had appeared in the ancient gardens of Peking University, which were extremely inconsistent with the style of these gardens, and brought serious safety hazards. In 2006, PKU decided to demolish those cottages and bungalows, renovate ancient architecture and build antique buildings according to the original layout, recreating classical gardens, with the aim of establishing an elegant scenic spot as well as academic research area. This renovation led to the establishment of Beijing International Center for Mathematical Research (BICMR).

Peking University Gazette
DOC88, “Introduction to some attractions of Peking University Headquarters (Yanyuan)”. Available at https://www.doc88.com/p-1846882505506.html

Written by: Jian Jingwen, Lukmon Akintola
Edited by: Ng Joong Hwee, Rose Li
Photo credit to: Sang Yuchen, Cai Xiangyu, Zhang Rui, Beijing International Center for Mathematical Research