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Forbidden City Undergoes Large-Scale Overhaul

The Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, is getting its biggest ever facelift since 1911.

The repair and maintenance work for the west road including the Wu Ying Palace in the Forbidden City will be completed in May this year while the repair work for the east road will be finished in October this year before the 80th anniversary of the Palace Museum.

In addition, the Wu Ying Palace and the Fujian Palace Garden are expected to open to the public after the anniversary celebrations.

In China ancient workmanship is handed down for generations. Earlier, media cast doubt on whether the overhaul of the Forbidden City could meet its original superiority.

Li Yongge, director with the ancient building section of the Palace Museum, said recently he expressed opposition to the saying by some media that there is a "lack of relevant ancient technology for the heavy repair of the Forbidden City". He said "We have mastered most of the ancient workmanship".

"For example, mortise and tenon joints were used for the main wooden structures of the ancient architectural groups in the Forbidden City instead of nails," Li said. "In the repair of the Wu Ying Palace we guarantee that the original mortise and tenon joints are used instead of nails".

The mortise and tenon joint is a kind of ancient wooden feat. It is introduced that no metal nails were used for connecting two parts in traditional Chinese furniture. Instead a joint style of concave and convex treatment, which the concave part is called chase mortise while the convex part is called joint tongue.

Li said, "Some of the workers in the repair team are grand sons of those worked here with their workmanship handed down for three generations.

It is reported that there are some 100 workers in the repair center of the Forbidden City. The average age of the workers is 46 or 47 and they are all from Beijing. And they are the main force for the repair project.

It is learned that the center has also employed more than 600 migrant workers for the repairing work, which requires no strong technology. Before starting the repair work, they have been trained in ancient repair work technology.

(Peopledaily.com March 17, 2005)

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