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Salem, Massachusetts: Chinese House

Salem, Massachusetts: Chinese House
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by in Jan 2007

A lacquered wooden bed belongs to what was once a merchant’s house located in Huang Cun, a village in eastern China. The house, called Yin Yu Tang, now resides in Salem, Massachusetts.

Salem was a leading port for New England’s 18th-century trade with China. A team of Chinese artisans working with the Peabody Essex Museum dismantled and shipped the 200-year-old house here 10 years ago. The 16 small bedrooms present views into the hard life of women, the fluctuating fortunes of one family, and Mao Tse-tung’s Communist revolution.

The house’s central courtyard is narrow, more like an alley; the gray-tiled roof around the courtyard slopes in on all four sides, the edges only a few feet from touching. It is an intimate space. The house has survived its sea crossing. It lives.

Peabody Essex Museum, East India Sq., Salem, MA. 866-745-1876, 978-745-9500; pem.org.

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