Chang Family Compound
Chang Family Compound is found in Dongyang Town southwest of Yuci District in Jinzhong City, Shanxi Province. Actually it is a splendid group of constructions of northern folk houses in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and at the same time, it is the largest one in scale among its kind of Shanxi merchants.
The owners of Chang Family Compound, the Chang family, were among the well-known Shanxi businessmen in the Qing Dynasty. In ancient China, there were a large number of people who were both government officials and businessmen; or they were officials and scholars. The Chang family, however, represented a rare group of people who were both businessmen and intellectuals. The main trade of this family was with Russia. The whole family became rich around the middle period of the Qing Dynasty and after that they paid great attention and huge sums of money toward building new houses. This construction went on up to the early years of the reign of Emperor Guangxu. In the Chang family, there were not only scholars but also painters and calligraphers, so the compound is far more fascinating than Qiao Family Compound and many others in Shanxi Province.
The houses standing in row upon row in Chang Family Compound are very different from each other. Strolling in it, you can easily figure out the living area of this big family consisting of the grey streets, stone roads, decorated archways, quadrangles and stages. Although the owners are gone and only the empty buildings remain, you can still be blessed in this place with a feel for the history and the culture. As mentioned above, Chang Family Compound is a typical northern one, but it has flavors of other parts of China. Probably the owners persevered in the traditional standard of etiquettes and living criterions, but simultaneously they integrated other architectural styles into their own structures. Its main constructions reveal the mightiness of this rich and powerful family, while the attached structures give visitors the flavor of southern gardens.
In Chang Family Compound there is one wooden decorated archway in the center of every inner yard. And on each side of this small and exquisite decorated archway you will see brick sculpted walls which enrich the beauty of the whole yard with the elegance of southern gardens. Between and behind the courtyard, there are flower gardens and vegetable gardens. All of these gardens have wickets connecting with the courtyards. Stepping into those gardens, you will feel drawn into the poetic environment created by the cloisters, pavilions, bridges and mirror-like water.
In every courtyard of Chang Family Compound, you are provided with the chance to enjoy brick, wood and stone sculptures. The inscriptions on these sculptures are verses, adages or patterns of flowers like plums, orchids and chrysanthemum. These sculptures show the particular cultural refinement and strong life interest of the owner. They are considered the most elaborate examples of the Qing Dynasty's building art.
Among all the stone sculptures, the most eye catching ones are the more than 100 various, lifelike and vivid stone lions. The largest stone lion is carved on the stone folding screen in the center of the Chang Family Compound. One of its feet treads on the craggy krantz. It cocks its head and looks into the distance. It is said that four baby lions surround it. If you are not careful enough, however, you can see only three of them, because the fourth adorable baby lion hides itself on the head of its mother. The whole sculpture gives you the feeling of affection within an animal family.
How to get to Chang Family Compound
Take public bus no.901 (fare: CNY3 per person) from Taiyuan Railway Station to Tianhe Yulecheng and then transfer to bus no.12 (fare: CNY1 per person) to Changjia Zhuangyuan (Chang Family Compound).
|Entrance Fee||CNY80; |
CNY40 for children between 1.2 to 1.4 meters (3.9 - 4.6 feet);
Free for children under 1.2m.
|Opening Hours||8:00 - 18:30|