10 June 1904|
Hangzhou, Qing Dynasty
|Died||1 April 1955
Tongren Hospital, Beijing, People's Republic of China
Cause of death
|Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery|
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania|
|Spouse(s)||Liang Sicheng, m. 21 March 1928, wid. 1 April 1955|
|Relatives||Lin Xiaoxun (林孝恂) (died 1914) (paternal grandfather)
Lady You (遊氏) (paternal grandmother)
Liang Qichao (father-in-law)
Lin Huiyin (Chinese: 林徽因, born 林徽音; pinyin: Lín Huīyīn; known as Phyllis Lin or Lin Whei-yin when in the United States; 10 June 1904 – 1 April 1955) was a noted 20th century Chinese architect and writer. She is known to be the first female architect in modern China and her husband the famed "Father of Modern Chinese Architecture" Liang Sicheng, both of whom worked as founders and faculty in the newly formed Architecture Department of Northeastern University in 1928. Liang and Lin began restoration work on cultural heritage sites of China in the post-imperial Republican Era of China; a passion which she would pursue to the end of her life. Maya Lin is her niece.
Lin was born in Hangzhou though her family was from Minhou, Fujian. She was the daughter of Lin Changmin (林長民) (16 September 1876 - Xinmin, Liaoning, 24 December 1925) and He Xueyuan (何雪媛) (1882–1972).
In a time when women were severely limited access to any formal education, Lin was able to receive a formal education due to being part of a wealthy family. Because of her family's affluence she was able to travel extensively with her father. She obtained her degrees both in England and the United States. Lin first studied in London where she attended St Mary's College. It was there she became acquainted with the well known Chinese poet Xu Zhimo. Their relationship is one of the more sensational parts of Lin Huiyin's life and is commonly referred to in romantic anecdotes. However, Lin's works as a writer stands alone and is highly regarded. Lin wrote free verse, novels and prose. Lin's poems appeared in a variety of publications, such as the Beijing Morning Post, Crescent Monthly, Poetry and the Dipper and the newspaper L'impartiale in Tianjin. While in America, Lin studied art at University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate, where she also worked as a part-time assistant in the architectural department. Later, she enrolled in stage design programs in Yale University as a graduate student, pursuing her longtime interest in drama. Unfortunately during that time in 1924, because she was a woman she was not allowed to study architecture. This educational barricade did not deter Lin for she obtained her degree in fine arts. During her studies she pursued her passion of architecture by taking architectural classes. It was here that Lin along with Liang Sicheng, her future husband whom she had known since childhood, pursued their love of architecture.
In April 1924, the sixty-four-year old Indian poet Tagore visited China, Lin Huiyin and Xu Zhimo worked together to do the interpretation work for Tagore, during which Lin Huiyin distinguished herself with her fluent English and also won the admiration of the great poet.
In the wake of the September 18th Incident, Lin left for Beijing, where she studied ancient Chinese architecture. Upon her return, she helped to establish the Architectural Department in Northeastern University in Shenyang, where she then taught architecture briefly. Meanwhile, in 1928, she designed a railway station in Jilin. This was one of the few buildings Lin designed. Throughout the 1930s, Lin and her husband lived in Peiping, as Beijing was then called, near both of their families. Close friends at the time were the Americans Wilma and John K. Fairbank, who admired her sense of living on a “kind of double cultural frontier,” and facing the problem of “the necessity to winnow the past and discriminate among things foreign, what to preserve and what to borrow.”
In 1936, in order to do the measurement work of the Chinese ancient architecture, Lin Huiyin and her husband climbed the quiet solemn roof of the Temple of Heaven. She is revered as the first woman in the history of China to attempt the walk on the emperor's worship palace roof. In 1937, she discovered the main hall of Foguang Temple near Doucun, Shanxi. The hall was the only remaining Tang dynasty timber structure known at the time.
As Imperial Japan's military invasion loomed at the doorsteps of Beijing, Lin Huiyin and her husband had to cut-short their promising future in the restoration work of Beijing's cultural heritage sites in 1937, abandoned their now famous courtyard residence in Beijing and fled southward along with personnel and materials of the Architectural Department of Northeastern University; their perilous exodus leading them and their children to temporary settlements in the cities of Tianjin, Kunming, and finally Lizhuang in 1940. It was in Lizhuang where the bedridden Lin Huiyin, suffering from symptoms of tuberculosis, was told of her younger brother's martyrdom while serving as a combat aviator in the air force in defense of Chengdu. The big sister wrote a poetic memorial commemorating her little brother (opening excerpt):
"Brother, I do not have words appropriate for this era to mourn over your death. This era made a simple request of you and you responded. Your absolute and simple heroism is a poem of this era. I want to add more sorrow to the unavoidable reality by screaming - you understand why - that you have gone too soon. Brother, your bravery is great. Your death is too cruel.."
After 1949, Lin Huiyin became professor of architecture at Tsinghua University. Lin was involved in the design of the Chinese national flag, the National Emblem of the People's Republic of China and the Monument to the People's Heroes located in the Tiananmen Square. Lin designed the floral wreath patterns at the base of the Monument to the People's Heroes. Lin also took part in the standardization of Beijing city planning.
Lin Huiyin wrote poems, essays, short stories and plays. Many of her works were praised for their subtlety, beauty, and creativity. Some of her more well known works are: Smile, Ninety-nine Degrees, Don't Let Our Land be Lost Again! and Meizhen and Them. Lin along with her husband wrote a book named History of Chinese architecture. During this pursuit, Lin along with her husband went to thousands of ancient Chinese architectural sites. She worked tirelessly to research and preserve China's architectural history. They lobbied hard to protect many of the old buildings in Beijing at a time when many parts of the city were being leveled by the municipal government. She also translated English works into Chinese.
In October, 2010, as part of a revival of Lin Huiyin and her husband's life accomplishments, CCTV had produced and broadcast a six-hour, eight-episode documentary on the famous husband and wife duo. Lin Huiyin is renowned as a pioneering architectural historian and a well-regarded writer. The documentary is titled Liang Sicheng Lin Huiyin and was directed by Hu Jingcao Although Lin did not receive the recognition due her, because she was a woman, there is now a renewed revival of her legacy. It has been quoted of Lin Huiyin that "It is often only through the light given off by a man that we see the woman behind him, particularly so for young women in the arts who emerged from the republican era. But Lin Huiyin is an exception. In her, we see the reflection of many outstanding men of the time, but in fact it is she who adds extra color and shine to their images."
The jade disc design of the National Emblem of the People's Republic of China proposed by Lin Huiyin
- Andrew Jacobs, In Beijing’s Building Frenzy, Even an ‘Immovable Cultural Relic’ Is Not Safe, New York Times, New York edition, February 5, 2012, page A6
- Peter G. Rowe, Seng Kuan, Architectural Encounters With Essence and Form in Modern China, MIT Press, 2002, p.219, ISBN 0-262-68151-X
- Ideology and Culture in China; http://en.gmw.cn/2013-12/12/content_9786921_2.htm#Content_Title
- Wiki China; http://wiki.china.org.cn/wiki/index.php/Lin_Huiyin
- John King Fairbank. Chinabound: A Fifty-Year Memoir. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. ISBN 0060390050), p. 106-108.
- Amy D. Dooling, Kristina M. Torgeson, Writing Women in Modern China: An Anthology of Women's Literature from the Early Twentieth Century, Columbia University Press, 1998, p.301, ISBN 0-231-10701-3
- The China Beat; http://www.thechinabeat.org/?p=2958
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lin Huiyin.|
- Fairbank, Wilma. Liang and Lin: Partners in Exploring China's Architectural Past. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1994. ISBN 0-8122-3278-X
- Ch 9, “Chinese Friends,” John King Fairbank. Chinabound: A Fifty-Year Memoir. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. ISBN 0060390050), pp. 104–113.
- Wong, Sidney (黄振翔). "Lin Huiyin (林徽因) and Liang Sicheng (梁思成) as Architectural Students at the University of Pennsylvania (1924-27)" Planning and Development Volume 23, No. 1, page 75-93, 2008.