Du Fu Thatched Cottage (Du Fu Cao Tang) is located in the western outskirts of Chengdu on the bank of Huanhua Brook, where Du Fu, the great realistic poet of Tang Dynasty, stayed during his vagabond life.
Du Fu (712-770AD) was born in Gongxian county, He Nan province, and lived in the period when the Tang dynasty was on the decline. In 759, due to the poverty and social upheavals in his home province of Gansu, Du Fu fled to avoid the disasters caused by rebellions and arrived outskirts of Chengdu where he built a cottage as a temporary haven with his friends on 44 hectares of land. Du Fu had great influence upon the development of Chinese literature. He wrote more than 1,400 poems lamenting the suffering of the people. During his 4 years' stay here in Chengdu, he wrote more than 240 poems, many reflecting his enlightened views on the poverty and misery experienced by the people.
The first cottage was constructed in honor of the poet on the ruins of the original site in the 11th century. The original residence disappeared long ago and over the centuries the commemorative shrine to the poet has developed within a pleasant park. It was reconstructed many times. One note worth restoration was in the early years of the 17th century during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911AD).
The cottage covers an area of 244mu, and the temple, in the style of Qing Dynasty architecture, has been well preserved. It includes the exhibition hall and the re-built Du Fu Thatched House. In 1961, it was listed by the State Council to be a key historical site under state protection.
The Cottage: The main attraction of the park, called Dufu Thatched Cottage Museum, is the recreation of the thatched hut that he lived in during the Tang Dynasty for over four years while in Chengdu. While it is not original, it has been meticulously re-created based on his own writings and descriptions of the dwelling, right down to the vegetable garden and the Chinese herb garden in the front.
The park, or compound, surrounding the cottage was built during the Qing Dynasty. The grounds are significantly larger than what Dufu had access to during his time in Chengdu.
Poets in the Park: While visiting the large compound, there are many other pavilions and gardens to see while walking through the grounds. The compound is dedicated not only to Dufu, but to other famous Chinese poets. Li Bai was another poet who lived around the same time as Dufu and both poets are well-known for their different styles. It is said that while Dufu employed a very realistic type of writing, Li Bai was more romantic. You can see many statues of the poets (and others), depictions of Dufu's verses and other tributes to China's literary past.
Famous Visitors: Dufu's meager surroundings have attracted many famous visitors through the years and you will see modern tourists taking photos or re-creating photos of some of these. Most famously, Mao Zedong visited the compound and took a photo next to a wall with the words "thatch hut" artistically recreated on the wall.
Elsewhere in the Park: Enjoy walking through the grounds. There is a beautiful small enclosure full of small bonsai-type trees that have been meticulously pruned and grown. The architecture and greenery throughout the compound is very beautiful.
Huan Hua: Also within the compound is a small hall dedicated to Huan Hua, a governor's wife who was known to be good and kind. The legend goes that as a young child, she was washing clothes in a stream near to the present-day Dufu compound. A filthy monk approached her and the other girls to ask if someone would wash his clothes. All the other girls fled and hid but Huan Hua took his robes and began washing them. Suddenly lotus flowers appeared in her hands and the monk was nowhere to be found.
Nearby: Just outside of the Dufu Thatched Cottage park is Huan Hua Xi Park. This large park has open admission and is full of modern sculpture. Built around a man-made lake, the park is a nice way to end your time in Dufu's compound. Children will enjoy running through the grounds exploring and you can buy snacks and drinks in the park and sit in the sun to enjoy them.