From the Readers

What about tangible heritage?

Updated: 2011-06-17 09:29

(China Daily)

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The enactment of the law to protect China's intangible cultural heritage and announcement to observe June 11 as Cultural Heritage Day beg a question: What about the country's tangible assets, some of which have fallen into the hands of local developers?

The law to protect the country's tangible assets appears scant. A case in point is the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) site of Laoniuwan near Wanjiazhai in Shanxi province.

Here on the Yellow River is a superb example of a Ming fortification and associated dwellings, which have been taken over by a developer in cooperation with the local government.

There has been a crude, amateurish attempt to turn this priceless, hitherto inflexible asset into some sort of day-trippers' playground, and there are plans for bars and karaoke rooms within the ancient courtyards.

I think the site is of national importance because it is an intact example of a Ming fortification. The dwellings with their herringbone stone construction, courtyard paving and other architectural aspects representative of the era make this site worthy of protection.

On the River Thames in London, World War II battleship HMS Belfast is on permanent display as a floating museum, revealing the period and the functions and duties of the ship' s company. It is a time capsule that captivates visitors.

What an opportunity for a site such as Laoniuwan? Visitors could stroll on selected routes through a "functioning" fortification of the Ming Dynasty site, viewing the military and civilian figures, and entering homes and courtyards to see the domestic activities in an accurate re-creation of the 15th century.

Ken Collins, via e-mail

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