Saturday, January 06, 2007

上水應龍廖公家塾 Liu Ying Lung Study Hall








Liu Ying Lung Study Hall, Po Sheung Village, Sheung Shui

The 168-year-old Liu Ying Lung Study Hall at Sheung Shui was declared a Grade II historical building by the Antiquities and Monuments Office. A 2-year-long retoration project was carried out and completed in March last year (2006). The restoration project won an Honourable Mention in the 2006 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards winner for Culture Heritage Conservation. The award was presented by the UNSECO at the ceremony held on 5 December, and the Qing period (1644 - 1911) traditional "two halls with an open courtyard" study hall will be opened to the public from July 2007.

As part of the preparation for the once-every-60-year Dajiao Festival of Sheung Shui Heung, this Liu clan study hall has been restored to its original Qing Dynasty condition. The removal of intrusive modern alterations added in the 60's to accommodate the village kindergarten has revealed the building's historic layout and structure. The restored study hall, complete with conserved murals and vernacular architectural details, was opened to the public for a few days during the Dajiao Festival.

Apart from the clearing of the later-added paint that covered the original green brick wall, disintegrated truss systems, purlins and camel humps eroded by termites were replaced by new timber components with compatible forms and materials.

All the wood carving, tables, the honourable plaques and couplets, as well as the murals on the facade and interior of the study hall werecarefully cleaned by conservation experts of the Conservation Section, and then re-painted by sophisticated artists.

Located at the eastern corner of the Po Sheung Village in Sheung Shui Heung , the Liu Ying Lung Study Hall (also called "Hin Shing Tong") has long been functioning as an ancestral hall of the Liu clan as well as a family study hall for the young members of the Liu's. Built in 1838 to commemorate their ancestor Liu Ying Lung, the hall has been used as the classrooms of the Fung-Kai Kindergarden in recent decades. The many tablets hung in the hall indicate that many of the Liu family members had been highly educated and done well in the Imperial Examinations for recruitment to the government officials.

Like the other traditional ancestral halls, the Liu Ying Lung Study Hall functioned as an ancestral hall as well as a study hall, and the meeting place and venue for communal social functions, traditional rituals and festivals, wedding feasts and celebration for the birth of male offsprings. A kindergarten was established here to provid educational opportunities for children in 1965, but was neglected for more than 20 years since the 80's, becoming termite-eroded and disintegrated.

Between the entrance hall and the first courtyard is a pair of high doors, called the "Middle Doors", which are used to avoid the direct view of the ancestral tablets from outside the hall. Above the door is a red-and-gold vertical tablet bearing an inscription of "By Imperial appointment, the chief officer of the Bingbu (Board of Army)", indicating that the Liu's family members had been important military figures in the Imperial goverment.

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