Tai Fu Tai in Suntin

Overview

The Tai Fu Tai is a Chinese-style mansion that was built in 1865 in San Tin in the New Territories area of Hong Kong. Traditional Chinese mansions that were built during the Qing Dynasty period had an open courtyard surrounded by rooms, and there was a tendency to limit the number of doors and windows into the building to make the building a fortification because there was much violence and warfare. This building looks sturdy, and there are three doors in front, but no windows. There is one small window high up near the roof on the side of the building, perhaps for observation purposes. There is little decoration on the outside to make the building look foreboding, but there is much decoration on the inside. It was named one of the hundred or so major historical monuments in Hong Kong. This building may be considered a typical building of the scholar-gentry class in China in the 19th century, and it is one of the two major highlights of a trip to the San Tin area in the New Territories of Hong Kong.

Detailed Descriptions

The area around San Tin was developed mainly by the Man clan that came to the area between the end of the Song Dynasty (1279) and the 1400s. It is said in their records that some of their ancestors came with the last Song emperors who set up a capital in what is now Kowloon in Hong Kong when they retreated before the Mongols. The clan's surname was Man (文,pronounced "Wen" in the Mandarin language). The word "wen" means literature or civilized. It was an apt name for the clan because they had many members who were literati or scholars. The clan is one of the 5 major clans in Hong Kong.

During the Qing Dynasty and earlier eras, to become an official in the empire, one usually had to be well-educated and pass an examination to get an official degree. Those who were able to score highly were greatly honored in their hometowns, and even if they were not appointed to a government post, they had a special political status. The exams were to test their knowledge of the Confucian classic texts and their calligraphy and knowledge of the tens of thousands of very intricate and difficult characters.

Location

Wing Ping Tsuen, San Tin, Yuen Long.

History

This mansion was built by Man Chung-luen whose ancestors lived in the area of San Tin during the 1400s. It is one of the well embellished old traditional Chinese buildings in Hong Kong. It was designated a Hong Kong monument on July 10, 1987, and restoration was completed in 1988 with donations from the Hong Kong Jockey Club that is a large private charity, gambling, horse racing, and sports organization.

This Man clan in San Tin claims to have a long and detailed genealogy. They trace their ancestry to Man Tin-Sui who was a famous Song Dynasty general. Man Tin-Sui was the cousin of Wen Tianxiang who achieved the best rating in the Song Empire's examination and wrote poems about fidelity to the Song Dynasty after he was captured by the Mongols in 1278. Wen Tianxiang is famous.

Features

  • Traditional Chinese Qing Dynasty era clan residence.
  • Lots of decoration on the inside and a forbidding outside.
  • It is set in rural countryside.

Touring Activities

  • Tour the structure.
  • Take pictures.
  • Learn about Hong Kong and Chinese history.
  • Enjoy being out of the urban area in the hills and villages.
  • Try some of the local food and walk around in the area. See something of rural Hong Kong and what native people are like.

Traveling Information

  • Best Time to Visit: Hong Kong is still fairly warm and is drier in October and November.
  • Hours: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm & 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm daily.
  • Closed on Tuesdays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and the first 3 days of the Lunar New Year.
  • There is no admission fee.
  • How To Go There:

By Bus

Bus No.Starting and Ending Points of the Route
76KWah Ming Bus Terminus to Yuen Long (West) Bus Terminus
75Yuen Long (Fook Hong Street) to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Public Transport Interchange
76Yuen Long (Fook Hong Street) to Siu Hom Tsuen
78Pat Heung Road (Near Tai Lam Bus Interchange) to Lok Ma Chau (San Tin) Public Transport Interchange

Nearby Attractions

Another major Man clan heritage building in the San Tin area of Hong Kong is the ancestral hall called Man Lun Fung Hall. It was first erected in the 17th century. It is a good example of Ming Dynasty era construction. It was named in honor of its founder, Man (clan name) Lun-fung.

Questions and Answers About Tai Fu Tai in Suntin

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Hi, I'm Gavin Van Hinsbergh
I updated this article on March 17, 2013
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