The Yin Yu Tang Chinese house at The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Massachussetts. Photo by Rickinmar, via Tumblr
During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a prosperous merchant named Huang built a stately sxteen-bedroomed home in China’s southeastern Huizhou region, calling his home Yin Yu Tang. This Chinese name implies the desire to create a home to shelter generations of descendants. In 1982, though, the last descendant left the village and it has now been removed, piece by piece, to the unlikely location of Salem, Massachussetts as a result of tha city’s close historic links with the China trade.
Originally, the home was oriented in the village according to well established principles of feng shui, to ensure a harmonious relationship with the landscape and it was constructed according to local traditions of building and local customs. Coins were placed under structural columns to bring prosperity to the home and its occupiers. The first floor bedrooms have intricately carved lattice windows that look out onto two fish pools in a central courtyard. Lots of small details in the building inform the viewer about the aspirations, identity and creative expression of the Huang family, as well as simply telling us about architectural style. There is a magnificent accumulation of furnishings which, again, tell us about things as varied as global trade and connections between China and America, finely developed personal taste and historical preferences.