Discover the recreated regal heritage and architectural vernacular of a bygone era at the Nan Shufang cultural hub located at Amanyangyun in Shanghai

DEC 20, 2019 | By Sakshi Rai
(L-R) A book of Chinese scriptures lies near a calligraphy tool upon a wooden stand ; A silver tea pot at Nan Shufang ; Photography by Tanuj Ahuja

Christened after the royal reading pavilion in Beijing’s Forbidden City, Nan Shufang is an antique villa refashioned to resemble a 17th century Chinese cultural oasis. It is housed within the Amanyangyun resort on the outskirts of downtown Shanghai. The approximately 16,600 sq ft bungalow, formerly a private school, is restored by Australian firm Kerry Hill Architects to match its earlier construction but with some modern elements. Typical to the craftsmanship and materials seen in interiors during the Ming Dynasty, the structure is replete with pillars, beams and stone carvings, while the carved Nanmu wood furniture adds a vintage allure. An impressive, age old Emperor tree at the entrance perfectly depicts the deep historical connect that Nan Shufang references.

A collection of varying brushes used for calligraphy; Photography by Tanuj Ahuja

The arena is divided into three—a calligraphy hall to rediscover the ancient art and structure of letter writing, a side room to experience the tea ceremony, anda boutique displaying local crafts and souvenirs. Behind the villa, a landscaped courtyard opens out to nine customised tearooms. Each of these caters to a different activity of the bygone times, such as learning oral arrangements, traditional brush painting techniques, the philosophy and science behind incense burning, tea meditation or mastering the guqin (an ancient musical instrument). Here, visitors are encouraged to delve more into the simple and minimalistic lifestyle and daily rituals of the ancient literati. They are invited to water the Emperor tree as a symbolic reminder of the role our past plays in enriching our future.

Tea pots arranged at different levels makes for an interesting display; Photography by Tanuj Ahuja
The ELLE DECOR team travelled to Shanghai courtesy Amanyangyun and Cathay Pacific