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Home >> China City Guide >> Guangdong Province >> Guangzhou >> The Chen Family Temple tours and travel guide

Chen Family Temple

Chen Family Temple, Guangzhou tours China travel Guangdong tour
Chen Family Temple, Guangzhou tour China travel Guangdong trip

Chen Clan Academy in Guangzhou, also known as Ancestral Temple of the Chen Familyis, or chen clan academy temple, built at the end of Qing Dynasty and was completed in the year of 1894, and was actually a massive ancestral hall taking the name of "academy" to circumscribe the Qing government's restriction of construction of sizable halls. The Chen Clan Academy in Guangzhou is famous for its exquisite decoration and craftsmanship. The Chen Clan Academy is a conglomeration of Guangdong's folk architectural styles and features an ingenious application of decorative arts, such as wood, brick and stone carving, lime-clay mixtures, pottery sculptures, paintings, all of which are masterpieces of folk arts with different themes, vivid designs, rich colors and consummate workmanship.

The Chen Clan Academy is became a museum since the year 1959, which is to show the folk arts, collects, studies and displays handicrafts made in Guangdong and the rest of the country during the bygone dynasties. The museum showcases scores of different types of valuable artifacts and handicrafts, such as pottery, embroidery and sculptures which reflect Lingnan's folk customs.

The academy does not look like a solemn ancestral hall off limits to outsiders; rather, it is an exquisite and spacious courtyard. This is because the building was designed not only as an ancestral home and academy for a noble family, but also as a club for people from the same town to get together, something like a present-day Guangzhou representative office for a city. Shortly after its completion, the Chen Clan Academy began attracting people from various counties who had come to the provincial capital for business. They relaxed at the academy, making friends, renewing friendships, looking for business opportunities, and facilitating business deals. A map at the academy contains directions for ships from other cities to "pass by Shamian, sail along the southern shore of Aokou into the Litchi Bay and anchor at the academy".

The Chen Clan Academy is noted for its massive collection of Lingnan objects and items of Chinese cultural heritage. Permanently fixed ornaments at the academy include 58 stone sculptures, 57 wooden sculptures, 57 clay sculptures, 58 ceramic sculptures, 41 stone sculptures, and 13 cast bronze and iron sculptures and murals. The majority of them depict auspicious motifs dating back to the final years of the Qing Dynasty. The cultural motifs are so rich that visitors to the academy actually get a crash course in Chinese folklore and classical arts. There are sculptures depicting stories from classical novels Romance of Three Kingdoms and Outlaws of the Marsh, murals featuring the Pavilion of Prince Teng and Feasting in the Peach-plum Garden at Night, and brick sculptures with inscriptions of Dedication of Yueyang Tower by Song-dynasty poet Song Zhongyan and seven-character quatrains by Qing-dynasty poets.

The academy survived a massive town renewal project during the Republic of China period as its location was beyond the red lines of the eastern and western axial lines in the zoning plan. On October 19, 1918, the Guangzhou Municipal Council released its first announcement, declaring that the ancient walls and town gates would be demolished to make way for roads. The western gate and walls of the town, where were just 859 meters from the Chen Clan Academy, were torn down to make way for the foundation of the roads. Later, a road was built right in front of the academy, called "Chen Clan Academy Road". Members of the Chen clan are believed to have played an instrumental role in the construction of the road. Thus, the Chen Clan Academy has earned a spot in Guangzhou's history of town renewal and road construction.

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