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The Wonderful Tale of the Seventeen-Arch Bridge in the Summer Palace

2016-08-19 15:26:43Share:

  As one of the greatest masterpieces of ancient Chinese bridge construction, The Seventeen-Arch Bridge is located in The Summer Palace, western suburb of Beijing. It was built in Qianlong Period of Qing Dynasty. Inside the palace, the Seventeen-Arch Bridge is the largest and stone bridge, which also connects the east coast of Kunming Lake and South Lake Island.

 

  It’s said that there were lots of skillful stone-men invited when building the Seventeen-Arch Bridge in Qianlong Period. As the saying goes: The Masters pout, servants work till their legs’ broke. Those majestic spotless glittering white marble stones were exploited and carried by the stonemen at long last from a very remote suburb called Fuangshan. One day, a seventeen years old man came to the construction site with long hair down to the ear and a thick-dirt covered face. He was huckstering while walking with a tool box on his back "who wants Longmen stone! Who wants to buy Longmen stone?" The stonemen looked at him up and down, thinking he might be some sort of loony since he’s so dirty. No one answered him.

Seventeen-Arch Bridge beijing summer palace

 

  The old man was huckstering for three days while lingering on the construction site. Still no one answered him. Eventually the old man left with his tool box and headed east till he reached a big Kwei tree in Liulang Village. He slept under the tree in the night and got up as cock crowed in the morning. The old man stayed there and started to chisel the Longmen stone.

 

  One day at dusk, it was so windy and pouring rain that the old man couldn’t get his eyes open. He held his head with his arms and sat under the tree to take shelter from the rain. Just in time, Mr. Wang, who lived in the west of the Village, was passing by. He felt sorry for him seeing the old man was cold and shivering. He offered him a place to live. The old man moved to the Mr. Wang’s house with a place to live and food to eat. He stayed there for a year and chiseled the Longmen stone for a year too.

 

  One morning, the old man said to Mr. Wang:” I must go today. You’ve fed me and offered me a warm place. I will never forget your kindness. I have nothing to repay you but leave you the stone to you.” Mr. Wang looked at the white marble stone and said:” Don't say anything like that. You’ve been working for a year for this stone. You must take it with you. I have nowhere to use it anyway.” The old man answered:” My stone is precious, you couldn't be able to buy it even for 100 silver coins when it comes to the moment.” He then picked up his tool box and left south.

 

  Meanwhile, the Seventeen-Arch Bridge in the Summer Palace was about to finish. There was even saying that the emperor Qianlong was going to come to”celebrate the Longmen bridge’s completion”. Out of everyone’s expectation, the very last piece of stone, which fits right into the middle of the bridge, mysteriously couldn't properly shape and build up. It was a huge crisis for the engineering director. Suddenly, someone remained the director of the old man who was selling the Longmen stone. The director then sent people looking after the old man everywhere.

Seventeen-Arch Bridge beijing summer palace

 

  The engineering director heard about the old man’s stay in Liulang Village and went to Mr. Wang’s house in person. He saw the Longmen stone under the window immediately, squatted down and started measuring. The result is delight that the stone is perfect made as if it was designed and meant for the bridge. The director was so happy that he could not stop smiling and said to Mr. Wang: “This old man must be sent from heaven to help us build the bridge. This is just what I want. How much do you want? I will pay whatever you ask for this.” Mr. Wang said:” I don't want too much. That old man stayed and ate here for a year. I want one year worth of food money.” The director took away the stone and left 100 silver coins.

 

  The Longmen stone was perfectly shaped and fitted. The Seventeen-Arch Bridge was completed successfully. All those stonemen, tillers, everyone was relieved and said:” We finally got the bridge done. Otherwise, we would all be dead if the emperor got mad.” All of the sudden, one old stoneman came across and said:” Don't you see it? This is Master Luban came from heaven to help us with the bridge!”

 

  Every since then, the tale of Master Luban helping to build the Seventeen-Arch bridge started to spread around. Standing on the bridge in the wind and looking far, do you have the subtle experience of time and space intertwining?