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Tangyue Village (棠樾村), under the administration of Shexian county, Huangshan, Anhui province, is famous for its architectural cluster of memorial archways or paifang. People sharing the surname Bao settle down in the village, and traditionally, they fed on business. The paifang cluster is comprised of seven independent memorial archways. They are in line following the order of Zhong(忠, Loyalty), Xiao(孝, Filial Piety), Jie(节, Moral Integrity) and Yi(义, Righteousness), four Confucianism terms of morality. These buildings were constructed in Ming and Qing Dynasties, exactly, 3 of Ming dynasty and 4 of Qing Dynasty, to symbolize the local people’s high moral principle advocated by Confucianism. Except the eye-catching paifang, two ancestral halls deserve your attentions as well. They are the woman ancestral hall and man ancestral hall. The woman ancestral hall is the only one all around China. The whole memorial building cluster is quite large, and the related carvings of bricks, woods and stones are made delicately. China Paifang Museum is located here as well. Currently, it is under the state-level protection.
What’s Paifang (Memorial Archway)?
Paifang, also called Pailou in Chinese, is very Chinese architecture. Actually a Paifang is an archway usually made of fine wood or stone, well painted and with glazed tiles sometimes, for memory and decoration. On its middle beams, moral inscriptions by certain calligraphist, mostly preaching some norms, often can be seen. Usually, these so-called memorial structures stand in downtown areas, or before entrances of mausoleums, temples, bridges and parks. Though Paifang is deemed as memorial architecture, it has other functions - marking, decorating, honoring and spacing. Not all these archways possess all the functions, however rich cultural connotations can be explained.
First, Paifang or Pailou reflects people's life aspirations in feudal times, which usually can be read from inscriptions on the beams. It exhibits folk customs of ancient China. Building Paifang was an important folklore in feudal society, while the structure itself was a carrier of ancient social customs. Paifang presents perfect harmony of ancient Chinese architectural modeling art and sculpting art, which both enjoy long history and attract interests of the world for their unique styles and artistic value.
The sacred emotions of the ancient Chinese rested on Paifang too. Erecting a Paifang was a very solemn event. Various emotions, praising, honoring, commemorating, praying or blessing were materialized through those beautiful arches. The structure mirrors feudal ethics and traditional norms in ancient China. As a physical architecture of those ethics and norms, various Paifangs, such as chastity Paifang (mostly for widowed women exclusively), loyalty Paifang and filial piety Paifang, were set up all around.
Paifang witnesses history. Many a Paifang was built to commemorate historical events and important historic figures, thus those structures, are of great importance in the research of Chinese history. Paifang has long become a symbol of China for its long history, rich connotation and unique art value.
The Main Paifang Buildings
Bao Can Memorial Archway(鲍灿孝行坊) was constructed in Ming Dynasty, roughly in the reign of Emperor Jiajing, to honor the dutiful son named Bao Can. It emphasizes the significance of filial piety. The memorial archway is decorated with the exquisite carvings and looks quite attractive. It is 9.54 meters long, 3.54 meters deep and 8.86 meters high.
Cixiaoli Memorial Archway(慈孝里坊) is a memorial to tell people how to have a great relationship between parents and children. The love of parents to their children in traditional China is called Ci, and the love of children to their parents is called Xiao. This paifang was built to honor Bao Zongyan and Bao Shousun, who were father and son, due to a touching story. When the rebels captured them and wanted to kill one of them, both of them were willing to sacrifice his life for the other's survival. Therefore, this memorial archway is set up to honor the father and son.
Jiexiao Memorial Archway of Wu(鲍文渊继吴氏节孝坊) tells the people a moving story of a widowed step-mother’s hard life to take care of the child. This was built in the reign of Emperor Qianlong in Qing Dynasty to honor the women who remained widowhood all her life after her husband died. At the age of 22, the women married her husband Bao Wenyuan. Unfortunately, her husband passed away when she was 29. Since then, she kept widowhood and treated her stepson as her own. With her considerate care, her stepson grew up and became a famous calligrapher at last. What is more, she looked after her sick mother-in-law carefully until she died. The local officers were so moved by her that they set up a memorial archway for her, despite that no archways should be built for the second wife according to the tradition at that time. it is necessary to give an explanation that keeping a widowhood life to a woman who lost husband was glorified by society and government.
| The Highlighted Attractions of Huangshan
| The Travel Guide of Huangshan
Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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