Why should we care about an old covered bridge in a remote rural hamlet of China? As it turns out, that bridge, in its own way, tells the story of China.
Based on extensive documentary evidence, the Rulong Bridge, Qingyuan county, Zhejiang, which dates to 1625, is China’s oldest woven arch-beam langqiao (Source: Ronald G. Knapp, 2019)
The Rulong Bridge, built in Zhejiang province in 1625, is the only surviving Ming Dynasty woven arch bridge. It spans a small stream within the tiny village of Yueshan that was — until recently — all but forgotten by the modern world. Back in the Ming Dynasty and for centuries since, the bridge anchored rural traditions of fengshui, principles of natural spatial organization, symbolically helping to protect the village’s wealth from getting washed away. Nowadays, decades after urbanization left the remote village behind, the community and its deep traditions are coming to life again. The magnificent bridge, and the village, are on the map as a tourist destination. Join us as Ronald Knapp, one of the world’s top experts on China’s traditional architecture, shares his favorite bridge and explains why it matters today.
Ronald G. Knapp is one of the world’s leading experts on traditional Chinese architecture, and for more than four decades, has traveled all across China to document its rapidly disappearing old houses. Trained as a cultural geographer in Taiwan in the 1960s, Knapp is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York, New Paltz. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books about the vernacular architecture of China and Southeast Asia. His most recent book with Terry Miller and Liu Jie, China’s Covered Bridges: Architecture Over Water, was published in July 2020.
For background, read “China’s corridor bridges: heritage buildings over water” https://rdcu.be/b5L1c