This is a brick from the ancient city wall of Beijing. It was made in 1557, in the 36th year of the reign of the Jiajing Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The brick is carved with the words “嘉靖三十六年分窯戶王保造,” denoting the time of the brick’s creation and its maker’s name.
In summer 1979, a group of visiting scholars from the University of Pittsburgh went to Peking University for an academic exchange. At that time, Beijing was undergoing much urban construction, and some of the original city wall was being dismantled. One of the scholars asked to keep a brick from the wall as a souvenir of the exchange between the two universities. Peking University sent an application to the government unit in charge of cultural relics. Beijing’s local branch of this unit took responsibility for preparing the brick for delivery to the University of Pittsburgh.
In spring 1980, this brick, which was specially selected as the souvenir, was brought to the University of Pittsburgh by Peking University’s HOU Renzhi (侯仁之). Soon after that, Wesley W. Posvar, then chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, wrote to ZHOU Peiyuan (周培源), then chancellor of Peking University, to express his gratitude to HOU Renzhi.