|Name:Sheqi Shanxi-Shaanxi Commercial Guild Hall|
Tel:1. Sanhuan Road, Sheqi County seat
County seat, a famous cultural town, is located
45km to the northeast of
City. It borders
County to the east, Wancheng District of Nanyang to the west,
County to the north and
County to the south. As a noted commercial town since ancient times, Sheqi town was originally built in the Period of Spring and Autumn and reached its peak in the Qing Dynasty. As one of the 4 famous towns in
Henan, it enjoys a fine reputation which is described as “Among the towns in the country, Shedian (another name for Sheqi) is the most thriving one.” As a commodity distribution centre, Shedian is the hub of nine provinces across the south and north. Businessmen from 13 provinces gathered here. Among the fellowship guild halls, there are
Shaanxi Guild Hall,
Hubei Guild Hall,
Jiangxi Guild Hall,
Guangdong Guild Hall, Fujian Guild Hall and so on. In this small town with a population of 130,000, there are 72 ancient streets and a dozen of them are well preserved. In July, 1989, it was listed among the first group of historic towns.
Located in the town centre, the
Shanxi and Shaanxi Commercial Build Hall, a palace-styled architectural complex, consists of a cluster of ancient buildings. It was built during the last tide when the ancient architecture art had reached its peak and the businessmen in
Shaanxi decided to build the best of its kind. Huge investment, numerous craftsmen and fine selection of building materials had made the construction project the largest at the time. As a result, the guild hall represented the peak of decoration and architecture art. Thanks to its important location across the south and north, the completed work blended harmoniously the essentials of southern and northern architectures and made itself a unique architectural classic. In summary, there are ten features of the hall.
1. The Best Guild Hall in the Country
Among over 80 ancient architectural complex in the country, this hall boasts of the largest scale, good preservation, fine decoration and rich connotations of commercial culture. In 1988 it was listed among the third group of key cultural relic protection units approved by the State Council. Other similar guild halls, such as Xiqin Guild Hall in
Sichuan and Shanshan Guild Hall in
Shandong, have an area of over
3,000m² for each, which is smaller than that of the guild hall in Sheqi, which covers an area of
13,000m². Many authorities in ancient architecture have highly acclaimed the hall. Lv Jimin, the former director-general of the State Bureau of Cultural Relics, said that it is the finest achievement ever in architectural history. Shan Shiyuan, the vice president of the
Museum, said it tops the world with its splendor and magnificence. The
Shanxi and Shaanxi Commercial Guild Hall has therefore established its status as the No.1 Guild Hall in
2. The Best Glazed Screen Walls
The screen walls in the hall are unique in its decoration art. As a special component in Chinese ancient architecture, generally it has two styles. One is the Haiman style that features patterns of dragons and sea, such as Jiulong Screen Wall in
Shanxi. The other is the Hezi Style that focuses on the central part of the screen wall decorated with brick carvings or stone carvings. Usually the central part shapes like an oval or diamond and therefore is called Hezi, literally a box. Most guild halls and other ancient architectures took this style for the screen walls. Impressively, the screen wall in Shan-Shaan Guild Hall integrates the two styles and puts together a colorful and meaningful picture using glazed auspicious items such as lucky animals, plants, spirit beasts, tablets, couplets, characters of Happiness and Longevity, and so on.
3. The Best Iron Flag Pole
Iron flag poles are typical of the
Guan Yu (a general in the period of Three Kingdoms who is greatly respected for his loyalty to his master). The two poles in the guild hall were erected in 1543 AD in the Qing Dynasty. They weigh over
25,000kg and stand over
20m. According to the inscription, at the completion, there left an extra sum of money. There was no need to make any addition to the splendid architecture and yet the money had to be spent on the construction. Two iron flag post were erected, which stood in front of the gate. There were numerous Shanxi-Shaanxi Guild Halls in the country. Only in
Town and here, flag poles could be seen. Currently, the iron flag poles in
Town were lost. The experts say the iron flag poles here are the best in comparison with those of other similar architectures.
4. The Best Opera Theatre
There are many ancient opera theatres in
China, among which Xuanjian mansion is the best for its imposing structure and fine decoration. Built in the reign of Emperor Jia Qing (around 1800AD) in the Qing Dynasty, the mansion stands
24m high. As a building in traditional Chinese style, the gate is facing south and the stage north. On the tablet that hangs up on the stage flies out another eave rafter. The whole mansion structure was decorated with beautiful wooden, stone carvings and paintings. On each side stands the
Tower and the
Tower, which are unconventional building complexes. The three buildings have formed an artistic whole. Yang Tingbao, the late director-general of the Society of Chinese Ancient Architecture and principal of
University, showed special fondness to the building cluster and took surveys and photos with his graduates. In his words, “It is a classic of Chinese ancient opera theatres”.
5. The Best Stone Carvings
Represented by stone torii and columns in the guild hall, the stone carvings here mirror various carving techniques adopted in Chinese ancient architecture. The representative pieces include animals like tigers, lions, unicorns, fruits like pomegranates, peaches and birds, flowers, auspicious decoration patterns and so on. Among others, the character story carvings integrate the essentials of painting and sculpting skills and give people an artistic experience.
6. The Best Wooden Carvings
The wooden carvings, as stone carvings in the guild hall, represent a high artistic level. They appear in every possible part on the buildings from architraves, sparrow braces to bracket sets. In main structure as Xuanjian mansion, Dabai Hall, Dazuo Hall, Yaowang Hall and Mawang Hall, the perspective carving is used on architraves and sparrow braces. Speaking of the artistic features of the wooden carvings, the picture composition, the lines and the shapes are finely created. The story carvings vividly represent the characters. It’s no exaggerating that every detail is done with extreme care and attention. Luo Zhewen, Zheng Xiaoshuo, the famous experts in the field acclaimed that the carving art can be comparable with the craftsmanship of Lu Ban, the founder of the architecture industry in ancient
7. The Stele with the calligraphy of Empress Dowager--Cixi
There is a stele in front of Dazuo Hall---the main hall, on which are written two Chinese characters, literally dragon and tiger---the symbol of power and strength. The stele is
0.42m wide and
0.80m high. On the top is a royal stamp in seal script, which reads “written by the Empress Dowager Cixi” and so is on the left. Right in the middle is carved two characters of dragon and tiger in cursive script. As the non-government organizations, few guild halls had the honor to get a Queen’s writing and certainly this adds another point to its credit.
8. The Best Embroideries in the Qing Dynasty
There is a collection of over 40 embroideries in the guild hall, 5 of which were appraised as Class One items by the Bureau of State Cultural Relics. In addition, two pieces were sent on display in
Denmark and so on.
functions as the residential place for Taoist priests and the place to receive government officials. As the evidence of the contact between a business organization and government, there are enormous research values in it. In style, it integrates the essentials of court yards in the north and garden buildings in the south.
10. The Best Business Morals Steles
There are nine steles in the guild hall, seven of which are related to business morals and relevant activities about the establishment of the guild hall. Among them, the Stele of Rules on Scales Regulated by the Guild was first made in 1725 and remade in the first year of Emperor Tongzhi. The Stele of Guild Rules was erected in the 50th year of Emperor Qianlong. The rest includes the Stele of the Responsibilities of Guozai Hang (Logistics Industries), the Stele of the Establishment of Chunqiu Tower, the Stele of the Iron Flag Pole, the Stele of Reviving Shanxi-Shaanxi Guild Hall and the Stele of the Reconstruction of the Shanxi-Shaanxi Guild Hall. The first three steles provide valuable evidence on the study of the commerce development and the code of Sheqi in the Qing Dynasty. As the earliest and the most comprehensive steles of the similar guild halls that deal with business moral codes, they deserve their reputation as the No