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[Peking University Landmark] Weiming Lake

MAY . 15 2019
Peking University, May 15, 2019: Weiming Lake is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Peking University. The U-shaped artificial lake is located in the northern part of campus and features a central island linked to the north bank by a bridge.

During the Qing dynasty, the Weiming lake area was part of the Shuchun Garden. The Garden was given by Emperor Qianlong to his favorite minister Heshen, who is responsible for its extravert construction. Today, however, much of its original design is no longer visible as it was damaged during Anglo-French expedition to China.

During the 1920s, Yenching University President John Leighton Stuart oversaw the purchase of the garden to use as a new campus. In 1952, Yenching University was dissolved and Peking University, which absorbed some of the university’s departments, relocated to the former Yenching University campus. Today, some remnants of the Shuchun Garden have integrated into campus. On the south side of Weiming Lake, for example, sits the base of a marble boat that was built in the same size as one used by the emperor. Although the boat’s upper wooden structure burned down, students and visitors can still come to the marble boat and enjoy sitting by the water.

The lake and its surrounding environment form a harmonious ecosystem which is home to a variety of animals including ducks, fish, squirrels, birds and even black swans. In the spring, the landscape is a vivid array of pink, white and green set against the blue of the water. In the winter, the lake freezes over and the ice is thick enough to skate on making skating on Weiming Lake a fun, annual event.

Those living or working on campus often come to Weiming Lake either to relax by themselves or together with lovers, friends or classmates. Over the years, the lake has witnessed determination, confusion, tears, laughter, friendship and love on its shores.

Prominent scholar of Chinese traditional culture Qian Mu is credited with naming the lake “Weiming hu” which translates to “a lake without a name.” It is often said that the spirit of freedom is so prevalent in Peking University that it has no motto, no school song, and a lake without a name. Another interpretation of the name is that it represents an understanding of the relationship between name and fact: for a lake with fantastic scenery, it does not matter what name it is called. Whatever the meaning of the name “Weiming Lake,” the lake is a core part of the spiritual world of Peking University and an essential part of campus.

Written by: Zhai Xinjia
Edited by: Erin Dunne