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The Culture of Pingyao

The Culture of Pingyao

Pingyao-the Treasure House of Cultural Heritages

Originally built in the Western Zhou Dynasty and extended in 3rd year during the reign of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang of the Ming Dynasty (1370 AD), the magnificent and spectacular ancient walls in Pingyao have 3,000 crenels and 72 watchtowers, representing the 3,000 students and the 72 sages of Confucius, respectively. Rebuilt in the Northern Qi Dynasty, the Shuanglin Temple is home to over 2,000 lively and lifelike colored clay sculptures which were made in the Ming Dynasty and it is crowned as “the eastern treasure house of colored sculptures” for the art of sculpting. Home to rare architectural complexes constructed in the Northern Han Dynasty, Zhenguo Temple, with its unique Wanfo (means a thousand Buddhas in Chinese) Palace, is one of China’s best-preserved ancient wooden structures. Inside the palace are rare and precious colored clay sculptures made in the Five Dynasties, featuring the sculpting style of the Mid-Tang Dynasty. The Dacheng Palace of the Confucian Temple is the only Confucian temple that was built in the Jin Dynasty. Known as the living fossil in the history of business, Risheng Exchange Bank, (today’s Exchange Bank Museum of China) is the first native bank that played an important role in exchanging money throughout country in the past. Southern Street (where the city tower stands) being its axis, it’s well-designed in symmetrical structure with Taoist temples in its east and monasteries in its west, temple of the town god in its left side and government offices in its right side, civil offices in its east and military offices in its west. Altogether 3,797 dwelling houses are well-preserved inside the city walls. The structure and shape of the courtyards are quite similar to those of the royalty. Pingyao is hence called “small Beijing.”

Pingyao-the Place Rich in Natural Beauty and Talents

At the end of the Jin Dynasty and beginning of the Yuan Dynasty, marshal Dufeng and Liangying was invincible in battles, making outstanding contributions to the reunification of the Yuan Dynasty. At the end of the Yuan Dynasty and beginning of the Ming Dynasty, Liu Bowen, born in Benyi, was honest and had a knowledge of Confucian classics, history, philosophy and literature. He assisted Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang in founding the Ming government with his profound knowledge and insightful strategic visions. Merchant Lei Lvtai in the Qing Dynasty founded Ri Shengchang, which was China’s first exchange bank. Since then, he has long been known as an outstanding talent in the business world.

The Architectures of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

Known as “small Beijing,” Pingyao is famous for its well-preserved architecture from the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

In the Ming and Qing Dynasties, as a large number of merchants gathered there and the local people lived a comfortable life, they were very particular about their dwelling houses. Strolling along the street where stores scatter and the local exchange banks, you will feel as if you were in the past.

Most of the local houses are built with rectangular courtyards and wide stone steps in front of the gates. As to the rich, they have a pair of majestic-looking stone lions in front of their gates and exquisite stone-carved bricks on the door lintels as well as the massy plaques, representing the harmonious combination of the local customs and the architectural style of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.