A Chinese relic finds a new home in US

By Hezi Jiang and Wang Linyan | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-02-10 14:43

A Chinese relic finds a new home in US

In Salem, a city that represents a dark period in US history, sits Yin Yu Tang, believed to be the first antique Chinese house to be dismantled and re-erected in the United States, Hezi Jiang and Wang Linyan reports from Salem, Massachusetts.

Enter the Witch House and you will be in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts, site of the infamous witch trials, presided over by the house's owner, Judge Jonathon Corwin, a Salem merchant.

Enter the Yin Yu Tang, a 7-minute walk away, and you will be in a stately 16-bedroom wooden house built during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) by a prosperous merchant surnamed Huang.

The Witch house represents a dark time in US history. Panic and hysteria in the coastal town led to more than 200 people being accused of practicing witchcraft, with 20 men and women - being hanged.

The 200-year-old Huang house - brought to the US from China in 2003 and re-erected at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) - offers a perspective on Chinese art, architecture and culture.

The two-story house was originally located in Huang Cun - a rural village of 200 people, most of whom are surnamed Huang - near the Yellow Mountain in southern Anhui province.Since the early 1800s, it was home to the Huang family for eight generations, with as many as three generations living in those 16 bedrooms at one time.

As Daisy Yiyou Wang, PEM's curator of Chinese and East Asian art, put it, the house, also known as Hall of Plentiful Shelter, has a "transporting power".

A Chinese relic finds a new home in US

"It engages all your senses," she said. "You feel that you are traveling in time and space."

Wang said Yin Yu Tang reminds her of her grandmother's house, especially the strong smell of wood, and on her first visit to it, she got so nostalgic that she cried.

Inside, the rooms appear as if the Huang family had just left the house for a walk or for an opera in the village.

A blue traditional Chinese jacket is hung by the windows on the second floor overlooking a courtyard. Mahjong cubes rest in a box on the floor.

Dried red peppers sit in a bamboo basket.

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