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【Cultural Landscape】CHENG Xianzhang's Collection Gallery: A Showcase of Traditional Culture

Time:July 2, 2015  Author:  Editor:  Source:   Photo:

Editor's note:


Every university is comprised of its "people", "culture" and "scenery", all of which coexist in perfect harmony and shape the distinctive cultural landscapes. The cultural landscapes in the campus of GDUFS have witnessed the changes and developments throughout a university's history.


Blessed with stunning scenery and a pleasant atmosphere, GDUFS treats us to a visual and cultural feast —— the cultural landscapes on campus. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of GDUFS, the GDUFS News Website, in conjunction with the GDUFS Newspaper have produced a series reports on the cultural landscapes to shed light on their intriguing stories and cultural implications as well as to present a review of the development of GDUFS over the past half-century. Now let's embark on the 10th leg of the cultural landscape tour—— CHENG Xianzhang's Collection Galley.


CHENG Xianzhang, the former Director of Guangdong Institute of Literature, a renowned writer and expert of the Guangdong Research Institute of Culture and History, has contributed his precious antique collections, 1008 pieces in total, to GDUFS when he was alive. A collection gallery was been established in 2010, on the 5th floor in the library of the south campus to permanently house these treasures and further assess their value in terms of history, culture, art and folk customs. From that time on, GDUFS has boasted a showcase displaying our traditional culture. On the other hand, the antique collections have eventually secured an optimal home to "settle down".


Inauguration of the Gallery in Nov. 2015

Overview: A showcase of traditional culture


At the entrance of CHENG Xianzhang's Collection Galley stands a traditional-style wooden portal decorated with 182 doornails. Grand and picturesque, the portal leads people to a brand-new world infused with the atmosphere of traditional culture. Covering some 500 square meters, the gallery is home to 1008 valuable antiques donated by CHENG Xianzhang. It was categorized by experts into 7 areas, respectively for the exhibition of valuable treasures, the "Scholar's Four Jewels", manuscripts and letters, archives, ancient and contemporary books, ancient furniture and other items.


The gallery has provided the GDUFS faculty and students with a great opportunity to fully appreciate the relics. "Many classes visited the gallery under the guidance of their teachers or spontaneously. For instance, a group of students majoring in art design came here to draw inspiration from Chinese traditional relics", said the curator of the Gallery of University History. In addition, many distinguished guests also paid a visit to the gallery, including LIN Renming, Director of the National Center of the Restoration of Ancient Books, and LIN Rui, Deputy Director of the Guangdong Antique Authentication Center. There is no doubt that CHENG Xianzhang's Collection Galley has proved to be a showcase of traditional culture.


The immense amount of antiques has just filled the gap in the field of relic collections at GDUFS, thus enhancing its literary and historical taste. "Over 2,000 volumes and around 1,000 antiques have finally found an ideal home", Mr. CHENG expressed his excitement after the opening of the gallery.


Review: The link between CHENG Xianzhang and GDUFS


Despite the fact that the collections were the fruits of his years of painstaking efforts, they were given away to GDUFS generously. It was not only owing to the fate, but also a tacit understanding in culture.


In the light of the description in an article, CHENG Xianzhang and his Precious Collection of Books, written by XU Zhenhua, the former President of GDUFS, the first time they met was in the spring of 2001. "Listening to Mr. CHENG telling story was a sheer enjoyment, from which people can grasp the quintessence of the infinite appeal of reading books. According to the amusing anecdotes related by his secretary and nephew, that Mr. CHENG had took great pains to search for ancient books from friends and neighbors, a hint of adorable 'stubbornness' and 'pedantry' could be sensed from this literary giant."


CHENG Xianzhang showing people around the gallery after the inauguration


When it comes to his beloved collection of ancient books, there is another extract from XU's article. "As an avid collector, Mr. CHENG has adopted the virtue of the noble predecessors. He never sells his collections but donates them. The number of the books in Ming and Qing Dynasty alone has amounted to over 2,000, among which many are of profound historical value."


YU Qing'an, the former Dean of the School of International Cultural Exchange, along with XU Zhenhua, once dined with Mr. CHENG who had just been recruited as a visiting professor of GDUFS. During the dinner, he discoursed with great enthusiasm on reading, writing and how to behave and deal with people. His remarks were compelling and witty, so much so that the tasty dishes on the table were completely ignored. Having not been at the helm of GDUFS long, XU Zhenhua asked Mr. CHENG for some advice. Then, in a solemn tone, Mr. CHENGspoke, saying that: "The university is formidable place in people's minds. A headmaster is expected to excel in scholarship and to be free from the taint of commercialism and bureaucracy. Although recently the academic atmosphere in campus has always been disturbed by the unfavorable elements from the outside world, with the faculty setting good examples for us, we managed to stay immune to the adverse impact."


The ancient books on display


The antiquities on display


As opposed to the great academic achievements in the study of western culture of GDUFS, the relic collection area still remained blank. After knowing that, Mr. CHENG seriously promised to contribute his hard-earned collections to GDUFS. He also took an active part in constructing the gallery all the time. In the autumn of 2010, CHENG Xianzhang's Collection Galley was finally thrown open to the public.


Envision: A Three-Dimensional Digital Gallery


GDUFS will strive for the digital construction of the gallery to better preserve, display and study the relics. The e-books will be available in the near future, including an illustrated catalogue of 244 ancient books.


After the realization of the e-books, an on-line 3D gallery is going to appear on the scene with the purpose of creating an immersive experience for the on-line visitors.


According to the curator, the digitalization will not only be conducive to the conservation and exhibition of the relics, enabling more people to get access to the valuable antiquities, but also facilitate the further study of them. The relics are highly research-worthy, due to their diversities and broad time span. By virtue of the Internet, more researchers could join in so as to make comprehensive and in-depth studies, thereby paving the way for the more influential Lingnan Culture, from which more regions and people could benefit.


On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, GDUFS will seize the chance to display its glorious history and the brilliant Chinese culture. Special measures will be taken for the convenience of students and alumni when visiting the gallery.