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In the late Qing dynasty, around the year 1800, a prosperous Chinese merchant named Huang built a house for his family in a remote village southwest of Shanghai. He named the house Yin Yu Tang which means Hall of Abundant Shelter—implying his desire for the building to shelter many of his descendants. For seven generations, members of the Huang family ate, slept, laughed, cried, married and gave birth in the house.
By the mid-1990s, the surviving members of the Huang family had moved away from Yin Yu Tang to take jobs in the cities. In 2003 the house found a new home as a permanent exhibit in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. This book, with its room-by-room, generation-by-generation documentation of life in the house, serves as a unique and invaluable introduction to traditional Chinese family and village life.
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