100 kg rocks and four legs — the traditional methods workers are using to restore the Great Wall

China 24

The Great Wall is one of China’s great prides. But the famous landmark is showing signs of wear and tear.

Now authorities are working to preserve parts of it – the old-fashioned way.

CGTN’s Frances Kuo has more.

One of the great wonders of the world – earliest sections of the Great Wall date back more than 2000 years. But the historical marvel is showing its age.

“The first reason for the destruction of the Great Wall is the wind, sunshine, earthquakes and heavy rains, which are the main factors,” explained Cheng Yongmao, an engineer with the Great Wall Restoration Project.  “Another reason is the surface damage caused by the disorderly trampling of too many tourists.”

The wall’s Badaling section outside Beijing is the most popular, attracting 10 million visitors last year.

To ease the strain, local authorities recently implemented a new daily cap of 65,000 people.

Another approach recently sparked outrage.

Back in 2016, local authorities ordered a 700-year-old area of uneven pavement fixed by covering it with cement that also covered up the original look of the Wall.

It also inspired authorities to require that restoration methods follow more traditional techniques.

“We have adopted the original method, the original technology and the original materials in order to better extend the historical information of the ancient Great Wall and preserve its value, said Cheng.”

The original technique means using laborers who painstakingly lay stones into place with electric hoists.

Installing just one rock – which can weigh more than 100 kilograms – takes 45 minutes.

“The bricks used are the bricks of the ancient Great Wall,” said worker Li Jingdong.  “Most of them are the bricks that collapsed from the original wall.  The bricks are used to mend these places.”

And it’s not just the efforts of two hands – but four legs. Mules help carry construction materials up some of the wall’s steep paths.

Getting the Great Wall back to its original greatness is no easy feat. But workers like Cheng say they hope the best way to preserve the past is doing it old-school, “so that we don’t distort the future inheritance and pass on the original flavor to future generations.”

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