Mati Lake : a quiet magnificence
Mati Lake has a long history. When Nankai University moved to BaLitai campus in 1921, it had been dressed up to meet the teachers and students. Through the years, it has become not only an impressive beauty, but a symbol embodying the growth and changes of Nankai University.
Mati Lake in the old days
In the 1920s and 1930s, under the hard work of the founders Mr. Yan Fansun and Mr.Zhang Boling, the educational system of Nankai University was established, and the campus construction begun to take shape. According to history records, the campus framework was made up of one road, one lake, two rivers and eight bridges. The boulevard ran through the old campus and divided it into northern and southern halves. Because of the two U-shaped lotus lakes which were symmetrically connected to the road on both sides, the road, with the lakes, shaped into the Chinese character “Zhong” and was named Dazhong Road. As for the two U-shaped lakes, they were named after Mati which means horseshoe in Chinese. And they were also called Dumbbell Lake because the land on the water looked like a dumbbell. The waterways on both sides of Dazhong Road were connected to the Wejin River outside the East Gate and the Xiaoyin River in the west. The whole water network shaped into a Chinese character “Si”. Eight bridges were built on the rivers, making it more convenient to walk from north to south in the campus. At that time, Mati Lake was absolutely the center of Nankai University because other school buildings were built around it. On the southern island of Mati Lake stood a bronze statue of Mr. Li Xiushan and on the northern island a pavilion for lotus appreciation. Siyua Hall and Muzhai Library were respectively on the south and north sides of the lake. In addition, to the west of Mati Lake lay Xiushan Hall and Zhiqin Building. Building around the lake was considered as the best method to take advantage of landform and do more with less. It was a good example to show the pragmatism of the Nankai spirit.
Mati Lake in summer
Today’s Mati Lake is now a placed to express the respect and admiration of great minds. The U-shaped lake and the T-shaped island are the embodiment of an open mind and simple nature, and the memorial of Zhou Enlai standing among the trees is extending the pride of Nankai University. A straight tree-lined alley for leisurely strolling stretches from one side of Mati Lake to the mid-lake island. On the center of the island lies the memorial of Zhou Enlai. After Premier Zhou's death in 1976, the teachers and students of Nankai University were deeply lost in sorrow, so the memorial was built on the mid-lake island in order to commemorate this outstanding alumnus. In the front of the memorial is the famous sentence “I love Nankai University” which is the common motto of Premier Zhou and other people of Nankai University. The mode of the words is a perfect reproduction of Premier Zhou’s handwriting in his old letters. On the back is an inscription written by the former President, Mr. Yang Shixian. The memorial is not very noticeable because it is covered by cedars and cypresses on three sides. The Chinese pagoda trees are planted on both sides of the alley to shade the road leading to the Memorial. And on the other end of the alley lies a row of weeping willows.
The memorial of Zhou Enlai on the mid-lake island is well-known, but it is rarely known by people that the ashes of President Yang Shixian and Vice-President Wu Daren were buried here. President Yang Shixian was a good friend of Premier Zhou. His ashes was scattered in the clump of cedars and cypresses after his death in 1985. Also, Vice-President Wu Daren passed away in Marth 1997. Inspired by President Yang, Wu Daren’s wife chose the Mid-lake Island, the beautiful place where they used to take walks and read poems, to bury the urn. The urn was buried under the cedar to the right of the memorial. Therefore, the Mid-Lake island became a holy land. When people set foot on the island, a feeling of admiration arises spontaneously. Every heart will be purified here.