Tag Archives: Chinese At

Revisiting Yun Nantian

This was a legal notice posted to the door of a Yun Nantian Memorial Hall back in 2015. I know this because I took this picture back then. Essentially, it was informing the people squatting the place to move out, they had not right to be there in the first place, and this cultural site had been damaged in anyway, extremely hefty fines were going to be doled out. The document also essentially said, “Give up the key you have to the door.” It is not my place to weigh in what or what did not happen regarding this notice. To be honest, I don’t really know the whole story. I just remember that, many years ago, I had taken this picture once I first started to think about doing a blog about Changzhou. However, let’s put the issue of this legal notice to the side, for a moment. Let’s get back to some basics. Who was Yun Nantian?

He was a poet, artist, and calligrapher at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty and lived from 1633 to 1690. He was from Wujin, and he was and still is buried there. His tomb is in an empty field next to the Science and Education Town that’s next to the six-campus cluster of College City.

Yun Nantian, also known as Yun Shouping, is now mostly remembered for painting flowers, insects, and other nature-related subject matter.

Not only was Yun considered a master of his generation and time period, but his work is still displayed internationally. In short, he’s still an important part of the long haul of Chinese art history.

So, now, at least, let us get back to that legal notice on the door his memorial hall back in 2015. Wandering around on my ebike in September of 2021, I accidentally found myself back in that corner of Wujin, and the weird notice about squatters was gone. To my surprise, the door was open and the place was open to the public.

So, I just had to go through the door. The curiosity itch just had to be scratched. I mean, years ago, access to this place was denied.

Turns out, the Yun Nantian Memorial Hall is one small building within a walled compound.

Inside said building, you can find a cast-metal sculpture of the artist.

There is some art on the walls, displayed for a visitor to see.

And then you have framed work just sitting in a corner — with layers of dust on it, seemingly forgotten with no available wall space for hanging.

And it should be remembered that all of this is still in a forgotten and obscure alley in Wujin. It’s not tourist friendly. I can only imagine the weird conversations with a taxi or Didi driver one would have to come out to this place. “Um, you want to go where?” and “Do you want me to wait for you as it only takes half an hour to see this place and there is nothing else around of note?”

I don’t know the answers to that. I just know that, for years, this was a Changzhou place of mystery for me. I never did learn about what happened to the squatters that elicited the 2015 ultimatum posted on a locked entrance door. Now that I actually got in and had a look around, the place is still a mystery. I mean this in terms of the neglect and afterthought of a historical Chinese that’s still exhibited internationally. Nothing has been answered. In a way, I’m kind of okay with that; Sometimes, the idea of a mystery is more interesting than having an answer. It gives you more things to think about.