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17th Annual Sammy Lee Lecture -- Yuanmingyuan: The Garden of Perfect Brightness - a Mirror for the Last Dynasty of China

17th Annual Sammy Lee Lecture -- Yuanmingyuan: The Garden of Perfect Brightness - a Mirror for the Last Dynasty of China

CHE BING CHIU, Professor at the Centre de recherche sur l'Extrême-Orient de Paris-Sorbonne, speaks about China's most famous garden on November 6, 2004.

Dr. Che Bing CHIU's presentation on "Yuanmingyuan: The Garden of Perfect Brightness - a Mirror for the Last Dynasty of China" will begin at 2:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The lecture will be followed by a public reception from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., where refreshments will be served.

Yuanmingyuan, the Garden of Perfect Brightness in northwest Beijing, was simultaneously
China’s most famous garden and one about which little was known. It had hills, ponds, lakes, and palaces filled with treasures. Although ordinary Chinese heard about the beauty of the garden and its treasures, they could not enter it. With its burning by British and French troops in 1860, the garden became a myth in the full sense of the term. Construction of the garden began in 1709 and took more than 150 years to complete. It served six generations of Qing emperors. The Garden of Perfect Brightness became the symbol of the Chinese Empire and the real seat of the imperial power, since the Manchu sovereigns preferred to reside there rather than in the Forbidden City.


By the time the Garden of Perfect Brightness was destroyed, it was the most important imperial
garden of China and held an important library, a priceless art collection, and an open-air museum of architecture and landscape architecture. With its destruction, part of the history of China and part of the memory of mankind were irretrievably lost.

Che Bing Chiu is a professor at the Centre de recherche sur l’Extrême-Orient de Paris-Sorbonne. Trained as an architect, he is a member of the Research Center on Traditional Chinese Architecture and Gardens. Professor Chiu works with Chinese counterparts
in restoring gardens in China including the Yuanmingyuan and the Bishu shanzhuang. He is the author of Le Yuanming yuan: le jardin de la Clarte parfaite (Besancon, 2000).


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The Sammy Yukuan Lee lectures are sponsored at UCLA by the Asia Institute and funded by the Lee Family Foundation. The series was begun in 1982 in honor of the 80th birthday of Sammy Yukuan Lee, a noted collector and authority on Chinese art, particularly lacquers, textiles, and ceramics. Sammy Yukuan Lee is now in his 102nd year and remains active as an art collector. The lectures have been held annually in recent years and this year's event will be the 17th in the series. The lecture is cosponsored by the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History and the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies.

For information on last year's lecture, "Long-haired Monks? A Portrait of Two Chinese Buddhist Masters and its Many Contexts," by Dr. Raoul Birnbaum of the University of California, Santa Cruz, please see the web story on the Asia Institute website. Click here for the complete list of lectures since the series' inception in 1982.

Parking is available in Parking Structure 4 on the UCLA campus for $7. Click here for a map and directions to UCLA. Reservations are not required for either parking or the lecture. For more information, call the Asia Institute at (310) 825-0007.

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