It is recorded that the grand courtyard of the Chang family it the largest folk buildings in Shanxi Province. Some people who had the surname of Chang built the courtyard. Among those people, there were rich merchants, Jinshi (a successful candidate in the highest imperial exams), Juren (a successful candidate in the imperial examinations at the provincial level), Xiucai (one who passed the imperial examination at the county level) and famous calligraphy and painting experts.
The ancestor of Chang family is Mr. Chang Zhonglin who lived in the Qing Dynasty. Generation after generation, there was a man of Chang Family named Chang Jinquan who started doing business. His son Changwei and his grandson Chang Wanda and Chang Wanyi followed his steps and became rich merchants. After that, the Chang Family became the respected and influential families in Shanxi Province. They began to build the courtyard ever since then. Chang Wanyi built the South Ancestral Hall and the Shi Rong Hall in the Cheliang County. Chang Wanda built the North Ancestral Hal and Shi He Hall in north of the county. After that, they built a street which was called “Back Street”, connecting the South Ancestral Hall and the North Ancestral Hall. After nearly 200 years’ development, the Chang Family built more than 1,500 houses and 40 tall buildings (covering an area of more than 66,700 square meters) as well as two major streets, combining four counties together.
The Grand Courtyard of Family Chang is made up of four small villages. There is a temple in the center of the four villages. As it is 250 meters away from each four villages, it forms a shape of rim.
Take a view of the layout of the courtyard, its major building is the North Garden. Every major house has front and back courtyards. As for the front courtyard, rooms are built along with the street. On the east side, there stand different kinds of gatehouses. In the front courtyard, there are each five wing homes on the east and west sides. In the middle of the courtyard, there is a festoon gate. As for the back courtyard, it is rectangular shaped. The building area is two times bigger than the front courtyard. There are 8-10 wing rooms in the back courtyard. Those buildings can fully show the rich of the Chang Family.
There are three characters of the Grand Courtyard of Family Chang. Firstly, there is a wooden decorated archway in front of every major house. Each archway is small but well decorated. On each side of the archway, there carved beautiful paintings. Besides, there are many different styles which make the whole courtyard full of beauties.
Secondly, those major houses are connected by gardens and small gates. When entering the courtyards, tourists can always find different ways to get to other places. All of the places are decorated with small bridges, pavilions and flowers. It seems that you are visiting a beautiful garden.
Thirdly, in the courtyard, you can always find different wall painting, wooden and stone paintings. As for the wall painting, most of them are boutiques in the Qing Dynasty. As most of those paintings are different and show many ancient stories, which making them full of historical and art value. What is more, only partial of those paintings are not well persevered. Therefore, it is also a museum of ancient wall paintings.
As for the stone paintings, there are stone guard bars and walls. Most of them are made of fine stones. As for the wood paintings, most are the door case, screens, furniture and wood carvings. It is a pity that as wood paintings can not be well protected; some of them lost their colors. The Grand Courtyard of Family Chang is a representative of ancient merchant houses. However, as it is also famous for its culture circumstances, it is quite unique among those rich merchants’ houses.
Location: It is located at Chewang County, Dongyang City, 18 kilometers away from Yuci City.
Open Time: from 8:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m.
Ticket: RMB 60 per person
I updated this article on December 27, 2012
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