There are problems associated with protecting many of the ruins.
Should they be rebuilt or left with their natural appearance?
There are also financial considerations. To rebuild a palace or
historic building requires huge amounts of money. The foundations,
which are deep under ground, may well have deteriorated and if
interesting artifacts are buried there, they'll be lost
To leave such buildings to age naturally results in them losing
any meaning for average people. Except archaeologists, no one is in
a position to appreciate how magnificent a building was by looking
at the remaining stones and timbers.
Prof Tan Guoxin with the Educational Information Technology
Research Center of Central China Normal University (CCNU), said
that he was studying a new system for protecting cultural relics
using digital restoration techniques.
Currently the technique is being used on a project relating to
Wudang Mountain. Wudang Mountain has splendid buildings related to
the magnificent Taoism culture. But some of the cultural relics
have simply been eroded by time; many were destroyed; and some
others have been submerged under water.
Yuxu Palace is an example. The palace was destroyed by fire
several decades ago and only small houses and broken artifacts
remained. There's no detailed record of its original appearance or
building style. Tan's center accordingly put forward a digitalizing
project with collaboration of CCNU's Taoist and Taoism Culture
Research Institute and the Taoism Culture Research Institute of
According to the plan, the two institutes carry out the research
work while the Educational Information Technology Research Center
takes the responsibility for producing images in a
three-dimensional format creating a virtual Wudang Mountain
One million yuan (about US$125,000) has already been invested in
the project and the digitalization of Yuxu Palace has almost
finished. They plan to digitalize all the main buildings over a
period of five years. Visitors to the virtual world will be able to
view highly detailed images which will allow them to pick out
single bricks. Information about Taoism musical instruments,
medicine, martial arts and other cultural points of interest will
also be included.
Another project underway is digitalization of cultural relics in
the Three Gorges area. Images of the area's scenery, the ongoing
archaeological work, the mixture of Ba and Chu cultures, the impact
of other customs, ancient homes and the relics unearthed there will
be included. The evolution of ancient wares will also be displayed
by comparing what is unearthed with other relics.
Tan said, "We're digitalizing the cultural relics to show them
to not only ordinary people but also experts and archaeologists who
need this information."
The project also has the support of CCNU's Chu Culture Research
What has already been recorded includes the information on
general environment, ancient residents and more than 100 cultural
relics. The total input in the project, which is scheduled to be
complete in two years, will reach 400,000 yuan.
According to Tan, the application of digitalization techniques
in cultural relics protection is still at the experimental stage,
and there are plans to digitalize the Hanju opera, the Chu culture,
the Confucius story and other historically interesting subjects in
Shen Haining, vice director of the Hubei Provincial Culture
Department and director of Hubei Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau,
said that the idea was advanced and valuable and that the
government would be supportive. According to him, some cultural
relics, for instance, silk, can't be exhibited in museums because
exposure to light and air can damage them. But digitalization makes
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Chen Lin, April 29, 2006)