Qu Family Compound
Besides Qiao Family Compound, Qi County has another famous compound located on its east street, the Qu Family Compound. Being built during the reign of Qianlong during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), this 240-room compound has history dating back over 300 years and covers an area of over 5,300 square meters (6,340 square yards); yet it is only one-fifth of the Qu family's estate. The family was an outstanding representative of Shanxi Merchants and their estate used to occupy almost the entire eastern half of Qi County.
Qu Family Compound uses a rarely found five-row layout in its subsidiary courtyards. Upon entering, you will find that each new door is higher than the former and each courtyard is wider than the last. This is because there is a saying that exceptional people come forth by walking from the low to the high and from the narrow to the wide. This design shows the good wishes of the family to their later generations that they would be richer and get higher official titles in government.
In old times, businessmen usually carved small beasts crouching with their mouths closed, on their roofs. These beasts implied that people who were doing business should work in a down-to-earth way and speak little so that their fortunes would not be lost through extraneous talking. But at Qu Family Compound you will find the mouths of these beasts are open. This is because the Qu family members are both businessmen and officials who got salaries from the government. The open-mouthed beasts symbolized that they were fed by the government. Being businessmen however, the family also wrote 'Be Cautious of Your Tongue' on their buildings. This was to make sure their later generations treasured the rule of speaking less but working more, because they strongly believed that all one's troubles were caused by his tongue.
The biggest stage and theater in a civilian residence was also found in the Qu Family Compound, which in many ways proved the wealth of the family. It is said that during the Sino-Japanese War period, the Japanese invaders found 400,000 liang silver ingots (approximately 10 million US dollars today) when excavating an air-raid shelter at the Changyuchuan Teahouse, which was one of the Qu's main assets.
The Changyuchuan Teahouse has since been turned into a Tea Museum of the Shanxi Merchants and today the Qu Family Compound is the Shanxi Merchant's Culture Museum. The museum displays the history of the Shanxi Merchants' development, their brilliant achievements and their fascinating experiences.
How to get to Qu Family Compound
|Entrance Fee||CNY40; |
Free for children under 1.2m (3.9 feet).
|Opening Hours||8:00 - 18:00|