Opened on 2nd, Sep, 2007, Porcelain House, also known as the "China House" or Yuebao House, is located on Chifeng Street in Heping District, the Tianjin Commercial Center. Covering an area of 3,000 square meters, it is an old French-style building with a history of over 100 years. The house was originally inhabited by a central finance minister in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and later served as a bank after the founding of New China in 1949. It was then deserted for a long time as the bank moved out and nobody went to take care of the house.
In September, 2002, the porcelain collector Zhang Lianzhi (ÕÅÁ¬Ö¾) spent 1 million yuan (US$125,000) buying the house. Then in the following four years, the 49-year-old Tianjin native devoted most of his time to refurnish it with hundreds of thousands of porcelain pieces dating from Tang (AD 618-907) to Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It is calculated that more than 400 million pieces of ancient porcelain, 16 thousand pieces of ancient chinaware, 300 white-marble carvings, and 20 tons of natural crystals were used in the process, costing approximately over 2 billion RMB.
Based on the understanding of antique porcelain and traditional Chinese culture, Zhang Lianzhi mixed up fragments from different pieces. About 80 percent of the porcelain used in the house is broken or damaged antiques. But the flaw of these pieces had been carefully concealed when being pasted on the wall. These antiques just look as presentable as the good ones. In such way the damaged porcelain is given a new life. Thereby Zhang achieved the surprising effect of a new, more lively and interesting composition and presented it to the public in 2007.
The house is covered with various porcelain pieces such as plates, vases and figurines, making it come into the spotlight in the neighborhood. Elements of Chinese culture can be seen at every turn of the house, for example, the four "China dragons," entwining the exterior wall of the building, auspiciously symbolize the power in ancient China and is one of the dominant features in ancient Chinese architecture. Each "dragon", which has a length of more than 200 meters, is actually pieced together by mosaic of porcelain pieces.
Covered with more than 3,000 porcelain vases, the wall around the courtyard gets a very auspicious name "Ping'an Qiang" (Wall of Wellness). The pronunciation of Chinese word for vase ("ping") is the same as the word for wellness.
Meanwhile, porcelain pillows are also widely used, which symbolized "suisui ping'an" (wellness every year)." The Chinese word for "sleeping" (shui) sounds similar to the word for "year" (sui).
Inside the house, however, porcelain is only used to decorate the part of the ceiling, the rail and the doors.
As the designer and contractor of the project, Zhang is a successful businessman owning a Cantonese-style chain restaurant. He was born into a wealthy businessman's family in Tianjin and has a strong interest in art and antiques. Over the past 20 years, he has kept expanding his collection of which antique porcelain makes up the majority.
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