Unspoiled ancient villages

Updated: 2015-06-13 07:58

By Peng Yining and Shi Xiaofeng(China Daily)

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Unspoiled ancient villages

[Photo/China Daily]

Emperor Huizong of Song: A better artist than ruler

Succeeding his brother as emperor, Huizong, or Zhao Ji, reigned from 1100 to 1126. Zhao was famous for his promotion of Taoism. He was also a skilled poet, painter, calligrapher, and musician. He sponsored numerous artists at his court and archived remarkable personal success in art.

He was a talented player of guqin, a stringed instrument. In order to search for art masters, Zhao established an imperial painting house, where the best painters around China shared their best works.

Of Zhao's paintings, the primary subjects are birds and flowers. In 2006, a painting of precious birds by Zhao was sold for more than 60 million yuan at auction.

Zhao invented the shoujin, or slender gold, style of calligraphy, that got its name from the fact that Zhao's writing resembled gold filament, twisted and turned. In 2012, one of his calligraphy works sold for 140 million yuan in Guangdong's Shenzhen city.

Despite being one of China's most famous artists, Zhao was an unsuccessful politician and a lousy emperor. His personal life was full of luxury, and he spent much of his money on his hobbies of building gardens and collecting artistic masterpieces.

He neglected the army and his country became increasingly weak. The Jin, Song China's former ally, declared war, and by the beginning of 1126 the troops of the Jin crossed the Yellow river and came in sight of Kaifeng, the capital of the Song empire.

Stricken with panic, Zhao abdicated on 18 January 1126 in favor of his son, and departed the capital. He and his son were captured by Jin troops and spent their last years as captives. The two former emperors were given offensive names by their Jin jailers, such as the "duke of muddled virtue" and the "duke of doubly muddled".

In a history book written by TuiTui, prime minister of Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Zhao Ji was summed up with the statement. "He could do everything, except rule an empire."

If you go

Shilin village is located 60 kilometers from downtown Ningbo. One or two days will be enough to enjoy the beauty of Shilin. The best season to visit is spring and fall. It was opened to tourists in 2002. The admission is 50 yuan. It is best to visit Zhongcun village first (one hour drive from Shilin), and spend half day there before heading on to Shilin.



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