The Fragile Porcelain House of Tianjin

Zhang Lianzhi, a 50-year-old porcelain collector from Tianjin, China, has spent four years decorating an old house with hundreds of millions of ancient porcelain fragments and tons of natural crystals. It’s now known as the Porcelain House or Yuebao House.

The Porcelain House of Tianjin opened its gates to the public on September 2nd, 2007, onChifeng Street in Heping District. The old French-style building has a history of over 100 years. It was originally the home of a central finance minister in the late Qing dynasty, and was later converted into a bank, after the founding of New China, in 1949. But after the bank changed its location, the beautiful building was left deserted for several years, until porcelain collector Zhang Lianzhi bought it for 1 million yuan ($160,000). He then spent the following four years turning it into a unique edifice, decorated with porcelain dating from the Tang (AD 618-907) to the Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Now the Porcelain House is the most eye-catching building in Tianjin, and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

Photo: What’s on Tianjin

Covering an area of 3,000 square meters, the Porcelain House is decorated with 400 million pieces of ancient porcelain, 16 thousand pieces of ancient chinaware, 300 white-marble carvings, and 20 tons of natural crystals. The whole transformation is rumored to have cost Zhang Lianzhi approximately 2 billion yuan ($315 million). About 80 percent of the porcelain used to cover the house comes from broken or damaged antiques, but the eccentric collector mixed up the different fragments and pasted them on the walls in such a way to conceal the damaged parts. In fact, most of them look intact. The courtyard wall is covered with around 3,000 porcelain vases, and is called name “Ping’an Qiang” (Wall of Wellness).

Photo: Easy Tour China

Zhang, a successful businessman with an interest in art and culture, made sure elements of Chinese culture could be seen at every turn of his Porcelain House. Perhaps the most impressive are the four “China dragons” entwining the exterior wall of the building. Each dragon is more than 200 meters long and is pieced together from thousands of porcelain pieces. They symbolize the power of ancient China and are one of the most dominant features in Chinese architecture.

But while the porcelain-covered exterior of the edifice shines in the sunlight, capturing the attention of passers-by, on the inside porcelain is only used to decorate the part of the ceiling, the rail and the doors.

Photo: Easy Tour China

Zhang Lianzhi was born into a wealthy businessman’s family in Tianjin and has a profitable Cantonese-style restaurant chain. Over the past 20 years he has constantly expanded his collection of which antique porcelain makes up the majority. One of the latest additions is a functional Land Rover covered with approximately 10,000 pieces of antique ceramics. It’s estimated worth is 1 million yuan ($160,000).

Photo: Easy Tour China

Photo: Easy Tour China

Photo: China Daily

Photo: Xinhua News