Lin Huiyin

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Phyllis Lin
Lin Huiyin 10.jpg
Born (1904-06-10)10 June 1904
Hangzhou, Qing Dynasty
Died 1 April 1955(1955-04-01) (aged 50)
Tongren Hospital, Beijing, People's Republic of China
Cause of death
Tuberculosis[1]
Resting place
Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
Occupation architect, poet
Spouse(s) Liang Sicheng, m. 21 March 1928, wid. 1 April 1955
Children Liang Congjie
Liang Zaibing
Parents Lin Changmin
He Xuehuan
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 China. Her niece is Maya Lin.[2]

Biography[edit]

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.[2] 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. [3] 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.[4]

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. [5] 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 that 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. [6]

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 she wrote a book named History of Chinese architecture.[7] During this pursuit, Lin along with her husband went to thousands of ancient Chinese architectural sites. She worked tielessly 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. [8] She also translated English works into Chinese.

She died in 1955 of tuberculosis.[1]

Recently[when?] there has been a revival of recognition of Lin Huiyin's life and accomplishments. In October, 2010, CCTV broadcast a six-hour, eight-episode documentary on the famous husband and wife duo of Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin. 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." [9]


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b 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
  2. ^ a b Peter G. Rowe, Seng Kuan, Architectural Encounters With Essence and Form in Modern China, MIT Press, 2002, p.219, ISBN 0-262-68151-X
  3. ^ Ideology and Culture in China; http://en.gmw.cn/2013-12/12/content_9786921_2.htm#Content_Title
  4. ^ http://www.china.com.cn/book/txt/2009-03/26/content_17502241.htm
  5. ^ Wiki China; http://wiki.china.org.cn/wiki/index.php/Lin_Huiyin
  6. ^ John King Fairbank. Chinabound: A Fifty-Year Memoir. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. ISBN 0060390050), p. 106-108.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ http://china.org.cn/english/NM-e/98587.htm
  9. ^ The China Beat; http://www.thechinabeat.org/?p=2958

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.