City wall bricks from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) are scattered at a site where illegal buildings are being demolished in Nanjing City, the capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, Dec. 28, 2016. (File photo/VCG)
Residents of Nanjing, Jiangsu province, have handed in about 80,000 bricks over the past year to help the city government restore the ancient city wall.
In November last year, four wall-protection organizations asked residents to provide information about scattered bricks, which can be found across the city.
Many residents not only provided clues but also handed over bricks they had kept carefully for years.
Xie Zhuru, 89, donated two bricks that she and her husband, Li Lian, had kept for more than 20 years. Before his death, Li had been a professor of philosophy at Nanjing University.
"He treasured the two bricks when he was alive," Xie said. "He said the ancient city walls are the bones and muscles of Nanjing's history, and that every resident should protect them."
Fang Qingsong, a resident who has great interest in the protection of relics, provided clues that led to the discovery of more than 1,900 bricks. He often searches for relics, including bricks, in suburban areas and at demolition sites.
"Instead of newly made bricks, it's better to restore the ancient city wall with ancient bricks," he said. "I enjoy my work in protecting the walls."
Xu Jinwan, chairman of the Nanjing Ancient City Wall Protection Foundation, said: "Asking residents for help in collecting the bricks not only alleviates the brick shortage problem but improves people's awareness."
Yan Wenying, secretary-general of the foundation, said all the bricks collected are kept in a warehouse near the Jiqing Gate of the city wall.
"They will be used to restore about 3 kilometers of walls," she said. "We were touched by people's love for the walls. We'll carefully restore them to show our respect."
Construction of Nanjing's ancient city wall - a relic of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) - began in 1366. By 1393, when the job was completed, about 350 million bricks had been used.
Around 200 million bricks used in about 25 kilometers of wall still exist. Others were destroyed or lost in wars.
Nanjing's ancient city walls were listed as a national key relics protection unit in 1988. They now constitute the world's longest such structure.
Nanjing submitted an application in March 2016 for its walls to join the UNESCO World Heritage list. The four protection organizations said more work is needed, along with financial support, to better protect the walls.