Among the stories history students have heard about China is how anyone wanting to work for the Emperor’s government had to take killer exams. This is one of the places where that happened. In the late 19th century all the families with the surname Chen in the Liwan district, around Guangzhou, gave money to build a place for all clan members to stay in the city when studying for their exams. The resulting building, also called the Chen Clan Academy and Folk Arts Museum, is stunning. Every surface is carved wood, brick, stone, or wrought iron. This kind of thing is my Disneyland.
Every clan had one of these “lineage halls.” This is one of the few left.
There’s a huge, wide plaza in front of the Academy – this is at the opening.
One of the gates in and out of the main plaza before the Academy.
The front of the Academy.
That’s carved, painted wood along the top. Below, the brickwork has had reliefs carved into it.
The main door into the building.
One of the Academy’s many courtyards.
Sadly, the woodwork is being weathered away.
This piece has been completely covered over to keep it from being damaged further.
This one has been restored.
This is a statue of two would-be thieves getting caught in an old-style Cantonese door!
One of the doors in person. Quite a few older houses in Guangzhou still have these.
This was found in pieces over several decades. It was only reassembled in OCTOBER LAST YEAR!
Archway of grape bunches. I can only guess this was the wine room.
Hallway along the side of the building. On the right is a courtyard, on the left are some of the enclosed rooms.
The doors to one of the rooms.
Windows looking out into a courtyard.
The panels are etched, stained glass.
The panels from inside with the sun coming through!
Some of the carved furniture on display.
Lest you think there’s no British influence in China…
Between the main building and the outer wall.
A lion guarding the path.
This is called “Storytelling”.
More of the fabulous furniture people used.
The CEILING even!
Looking out from one of the verandas to a courtyard.
The courtyards are partitioned by huge wooden screens, and every panel is carved with a scene from history or legend. This one is a scene from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
The Academy’s garden.
Houses butting right up against the back wall of the garden!
On my way out. Who would have ever noticed this one (besides tourists), but it’s decorated anyway…