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Study Proves Jiayuguan was finalized in the Qing Dynasty

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A memorial to the throne on the budget estimation of the the Jiayuguan restoration projection (For Taipei Palace Museum collection) 

The Jiayuguan Gate map of the fifty-fourth year of Qianlong, (For Taipei Palace Museum collection) 

The Jiayuguan in the landscape map of Mongolia, (For Beijing Palace Museum collection) 

Lately, a great attention was sparked among the field of Architectural history by the news that three archives stored in the palace proved that the Jiayuguan had been overhauled during Emperor Qianlong period in the Qing Dynasty, so the present gate pattern of the Jiayuguan is finalized then. However, before that, historians believed that the final construction of the Jiayuguan was completed in the Ming Dynasty. Then who found the three archives and how? 

It is the group from Tianjin University (TJU) researched on the protection of the Jiayuguan heritage that found the three very palace archives. “As the exact overhaul time is finally determined, the history of the Jiayuguan will be clearer.” said Zhang Long, associate professor from School of Architecture, TJU, who first found the three very archives. Although the confirmation of the overhaul time of the Jiayuguan compared with the whole value of the Great Wall, is more microcosmic, the story and the meaning behind it can help people know about the historical changes of the Jiayuguan deeper than before and even see the attitude changes of the Jiayuguan from different dynasties. As a result, the cultural value of the discovery cannot be underestimated. 

A major national social science project led by Professor Wang Qiheng, from School of Architecture, TJU. The members have continued focusing on organizing the ancient Chinese architectural literature archives. As a main member of this project, Zhang Long is mainly responsible for the research of the royal gardens in Beijing. It should be said that uncovering the "secret history" of the Jiayuguan by accident has already overstep his bounds, but it is also reasonable that he has collected and read a mass of relevant archives. 

No matter from the shape or the structural features of the Jiayuguan, Professor Wu Cong from School of Architecture, TJU, who has been engaged in architectural research about the Hexi Corridor Area for a long time, always feels that the three gate towers in the Jiayuguan are not the products of the Ming Dynasty. "However, this is equivalent to seeing a suspect. You will never know his criminal record without consulting the files." 

The three archives show that during the QianLong era, the overhaul of the Jiayuguan, which lasted for four years and cost over 50 thousand liang (a Chinese mass unit, it’s equal to 50 grams) of silver, made 6 important changes to the Jiayuguan. “From one floor before to three floors, that’s what we can see now." 

The study of the history of ancient architecture has a certain guiding significance for the contemporary environment, landscape and architecture design. “Seeing from Chinese ancient time, there are a set of powerful and complete design philosophy and methods behind the world cultural heritages, such as the Summer Palace, Tiantan and the Forbidden City, which enlighten the present architectural field. 

By: School of Architecture

Editor: Qin Mian