|Chinese Pavilion in Drottningholm in Stockholm|
In the western part of Stockholm, capital of Sweden, situated a Chinese Pavilion in the area of the Drottningholm or the Royal Palace. How come a Chinese Pavilion can be here?
In 1753 when the Queen Lovisa Ulrika celebrated her 33 year old birthday, her husband King Adolf Fredrik accompanied her to walk in the nearby forest. Suddenly, a brand new Chinese pavilion showed up before her eyes. Her 7 year old son was standing by the door with the key in a red box. This was the King's birthday present to the Queen.
The pavilion was built of wood. Ten years later, it almost collapsed. But the Queen loved it so much that she decided to rebuild the palace. The first room we entered was actually the dining hall at that time. On the wall, there are paintings made by Swedish architects with Chinese style. The paintings are about mountains and waters, small pavilions and ancient Chinese figures. At the far end two corners of the room, there are two Manchurian figures. People can see what kind of rank the official had through the paintings in their clothes. By the side of the room stands a big folding screen which was typical Chinese products in ancient times.
On the wall of the adjacent room, there are all kinds of Chinese characters and poems, but one can hardly figure out the whole meaning. The guide said this may be because the architects didn't understand any Chinese meaning, they simply imitated what was written.
In the other room, it functions like the long corridor in Beijing's Summer Palace or Daguanyuan so that the Queen could open all the windows and see the performance outside the room.
The Queen never slept in this pavilion. She just had some rest here during the day. There was a special room for her to rest. A sofa was equipped in the room together with other Chinese style furniture, but the guide said only one table made of bamboo was originally imported from China while the others were made in Britain according to the Chinese style.
Of course, in the Queen's eyes, no matter it was from China, Japan or Indonesia, they all belonged to eastern culture. Therefore, in her collection, there were many small figures from Japan too. The prince used to play with them as toys so that he knew a little bit how the eastern people looked different from the western.
In the living room, there are many big mirrors. The mirrors reach almost the top of the roof. The guide said the purpose was to reflect the beautiful sceneries outside. So when the window was open, even if the Queen stayed inside the room, she could feel as if she were outside. There are golden edges on the mirrors and the head portrait of Swedish men on the top or side of the mirrors.
The guide said the building was built according to all kinds of information including paintings, books and goods with architects' imagination about China. They had never been to China in person. Two of the paintings here were completely copied from an English book about Chinese interior decoration.
On the second floor of the pavilion, there are two rooms which have the echo sound effect the same as in both the Huanqiu and the Echo Wall in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The technique is the same. Only here the scale is much smaller.
In fact, in the reception room, it was an eight angle room which was also similar to the main hall of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
Outside the Pavilion, there are many neat rows of trees which resembled the Tiantan style. The Chinese Pavilion was loved by the royal families during various periods. But during the Gustav III period, he preferred to eat only with his family members without any other disturbance. Thus they built a special dining room outside the pavilion. The idea was that there was a movable table which could go up and down. After the King finished the meal, he would ring the bell and the table would lower down to the underground kitchen and the servants would place tea or coffee on the table and then the table would go up again. This way the King and his family kept their privacy.
The Queen also ordered to build a Canton village nearby. The name Canton is still in use now. As being shown in the paintings, in the 18th century, foreigners could only trade with the Chinese outside Guangzhou city. So their impression about Canton was mainly outer Canton. Between 1753 and 1765, in accordance with the wishes of the queen Lovisa Ulrika, a number of buildings were erected. The purpose was to build a small homecraft community with silk manufacture, a school for lace manufacture and smithies for making shotguns and iron tools. Today these houses are private residents.
The Chinese Pavilion was renovated to its original appearance between 1989 and 1996. It is part of the Drottningholm which also includes the Royal Palace, a Court Theatre, a Palace Chapel, the Guards' Tent and other buildings.
In 1991, Drottningholm became the first Swedish item to be included in UNESCO's World Heritage List. It was the Chinese Pavilion, the Court Theatre and the parks which the UNESCO committee considered to be of particular importance, but the committee's decision covers the complete area of Drottningholm. The motive for the decision was that the environment of Drottningholm Palace—the palace theatre, Chinese Pavilion and parks—is the best example of an 18th century royal palace in Sweden and is also representative for European architecture of that period.
The Drottningholm faces the lake so that the King and the Queen can take boat to go to their office in the old downtown center if they wish. But in summer, they usually go to their summer house in Oland, an island in eastern Sweden. The place is open to the public and the tourists the whole summer.
Another aspect worth to mention is that the Royal Palace area is very environmentally friendly and energy-saving.
In 2006, the Swedish National Property Board installed a district heating plant for bio fuels that provides energy for Drottningholm, Kungsgården and the Swedish Board of Fisheries Fresh Water Laboratory. Thus the use of bioenergy reaches 92% of the total while the electricity and other energy only account for 5% and 3% respectively while before they used 33% of electricity and 67% oil related heating. This has made the carbon dioxide emission in the area reduce by 90 percent!
The Chinese Pavilion was built against the background that the Swedish East Indian Company did a lot of trade with China beginning in 1731. In the second part of the series China's cultural and trade influence on Sweden, we'll tell you some histories about the company and what is happening after the Gotheborg Boat came back from China.
By People's Daily Online Stockholm Correspondent Xuefei Chen