The Rhyme of the Song Dynasty and Where to Find, Come to Hangzhou and Relish the Memory of the Song Dynasty

November 22 16:12 2022

With red walls and green trees, the Deshou Palace can present you with a “spring scene” though it is wintertime right now in Hangzhou. On November 14, the first media tour was held in the spotlight at the site of the Deshou Palace in the Southern Song Dynasty, which has been renovated for nearly two years and revitalized as a museum.

Two years ago on December 28, 2020, the renovation work commenced. Located north of Wangjiang Road, east of Zhonghe Middle Road, and northeast of the Local Chronicles Museum, the Southern Song Deshou Palace Site Museum, the palace, which has cherished the memory of the Song Dynasty royal family for more than 800 years, is like a time capsule and now it has been reopened again.

 

Time flips, but the grandeur of Song culture was not reduced to dust but shed light on the city through the ebb and flow. The Southern Song Deshou Palace Site Museum was built based on the original site of the Deshou Palace. The museum assumes the collective functions of protection, research, collection, and display of the site itself and  cultural relics unearthed. It is a typical Song featured architecture that is the home to  the cultural heritage of the Southern Song Dynasty. 

As one of the most regulated buildings in the Southern Song Dynasty, the Deshou Palace was located in the first block of East Wangxian Bridge Community, Lin’an City. In the thirty-second year of Shaoxing Reign (1162 AD), after the abdication of Emperor Gaozong, the Deshou Palace was built on the basis of the original constructions here. The same thing went on for Emperor Xiaozong, who also lived here after his abdication. The two generations lived here for a total of more than 40 years. Located in the north of the imperial city “Nan Nei”, the Deshou Palace was thus named “Bei Nei”.

In its heyday, there were more than 270 buildings in the Deshou Palace. The “Little West Lake” in the North Garden was divided into four major areas with spring, summer, autumn, and winter landscapes. The site was surrounded by Zhijixiang Lane in the east, Wangjiang Road in the south, Zhonghe Middle Road in the west, and Meihua Tablet in the north, covering an area of no less than 110,000 square meters. It is undoubtedly the culmination of garden and architecture of the Southern Song Dynasty.

Having witnessed the vicissitude of history for eight hundred years,  the Deshou Palace is the first and largest extant royal architectural garden of the Southern Song Dynasty with the highest level of exposure.

Covering an area of 21,367 square meters, with a total construction area of 12,321 square meters, the Southern Song Deshou Palace Museum is the first venue in China to systematically depict the full picture of the history and culture of the Southern Song Dynasty. Together with Yanguanxiang Southern Song Imperial Street Site and Laohudong Southern Song Dynasty Kiln Site, all three are included in the top ten new archaeological discoveries in China. The excavation of the Deshou Palace enriches the meaning of the discovery of the Lin’an City Site of the Southern Song Dynasty which is one of the hundred greatest archaeological discoveries of China in recent one hundred years, and once again provides the public with access to a tangible and concrete touch on the aesthetics of the Song Dynasty.

 

After the site was revealed, the most extensive restoration research and sustainable protection of the Deshou Palace was put on the agenda. But related tasks were also confronted with thorny problems such as how to achieve the maximum range of systematic protection of the architectural garden ruins of the Southern Song Dynasty in the humid environment, how to overcome the obstacles of a limited number of architectural remains of the Song Dynasty and the lack of architectural examples of the royal palace of the Southern Song Dynasty. After assiduous research and efforts, speculation about the restoration of the overall pattern of the Deshou Palace was finally made. Then in the original site, according to its original appearance and scale, the Song featured five-room palace architecture with pottery tiles, a wooden structure, and a single-eaved gable and hip roof, which assumed the function of site preservation and display was restored.

According to the introduction launched at the press conference, the Southern Song Deshou Palace Site Museum has five exhibition halls. They are the restoration display area of the Main hall of Chonghua Palace, the historical and cultural exhibition area of the Southern Song Dynasty, the Main Hall of Chonghua Palace Historical Site, the archaeological achievements exhibition area of the Deshou Palace, the thematic exhibition area of the Southern Song Dynasty Lin’an City in the Main Hall of Cifu Palace, the main Hall of Cifu Palace and related exhibition area of garden sites .

In the media tour, many media workers generated such a feeling of “one step making a difference in the Palace while walking in the beauty of the Song Dynasty charm.” And this is exactly the idea that has been put forward and prioritized throughout the whole process of conservation and restoration. In addition to the creation of natural scenery, technical experts have also improved the visual effect through the presentation of digital technology, and in this way, the visitors and the historical site can draw closer. “It is to reproduce the beauty of the palace and the glory of the garden in the Southern Song Dynasty from multiple angles, at close range and with cinematographic means, so that more people can understand the beauty of the Song and Hangzhou.” Hangzhou Municipal Bureau of garden and cultural relics deputy director Zhuo Jun emphasized.

 

In the central hall of the site museum, with three huge curtains as the background, the immersive virtual reality special effects are projected on the real historical site, bringing visitors the fabulous visual enjoyment. The combination of the virtual and the real makes people feel as if be personally on the scene. The same technology is employed by the exhibition on the western side of the hall. Projection-light and water-pattern lights are projected on the site of the pool and the aqueduct remains in the south. And a pool of virtual “clear water” winds its way from the Zhonghe River in the west to the lotus pond, causing ripples in circles.

The spectacle is a feast to the eyes of visitors. At the end of the activity, Shi Yunshu, deputy director of Shangcheng Culture, Tourism and Sports Bureau and curator of the Southern Song Deshou Palace Site Museum, revealed that the museum would be officially open to public visitors for free in the near future. At that time, a special exhibition with the theme of “Treasures in Deshou, Splendor of Chonghua — Cultural Relics Exhibition of the Song Dynasty” will be held, and a number of archaeological and cultural institutions in Zhejiang Province will display the delicate artifacts of the Southern Song Dynasty.

The opening time is 9:30 — 17:00 every Tuesday to Sunday, and admission will be closed at 4:30 p.m. every day. Visitors can make reservations through the official WeChat account of the Deshou Palace. After the opening, there will be a one-month trial operation period, which will be open to making reservations for 500 people every day. 

(Correspondents: Li Lingjing, Shen Xinning, Wang Zhe, Tang Liyu Journalists: Hu Yuxing, Tang Yuchen)

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