Qiao Family Courtyard

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The Qiao Family Compound is located 30 kilometers northeast of the historic Pingyao city, China. Architects consider it to be one of the finest remaining examples of imposing private residences in northern China. It has been converted into a museum and has many period furnishings.

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Qiao Family Courtyard
Qiao Family Courtyard

It is famous for being the chief location in the film Raise the Red Lantern. Begun during the reign of the Qing Dynasty's Emperor Qianlong (in 1756) and finished in the 18th century, it is a courtyard estate covering 9000 square meters and having 313 rooms with 4000 square meters within 6 large courtyards and 19 smaller courtyards. Its original Chinese name was Zai Zhong Tang.

Qiao Family Compound
Qiao Family Compound

Layout of Qiao Family Courtyard

Qiao Family Compound encompasses 8,724.8 square meters of land, consisting of 6 large yards and 20 small yards with 313 houses in total. It was repaired and rebuilt many times during the reigns of emperors Tongzhi and Guangxu in the Qing Dynasty and the beginning years of the Republic of China (1911-1949). It was an old Chinese residential courtyard that thrived for over two centuries. When you look down at the overall yard above ground, it looks just like double happiness in Chinese.

Entering into the gate of the courtyard, first, you can see an 80-meter-long straight stone pavement that divides 6 courtyards into a northern and southern row. There are slope protections between the pavements and nearby walls.

The Qiao family's ancestral temple is at the end of the western side, which directly faces the gate. There are 4 main buildings and 6 other structures, such as a gate pavilion and the Geng and Tiao pavilions. The sidewalks on the roof of every yard are connected to allow for patrol.

Qiao Family Courtyard
Qiao Family Courtyard

Viewed from outside, the residency is serious and grand, with long yards; viewed from inside, it is splendid and orderly, reflecting the residential style of big families in feudal society in North China.

Qiao Family Compound
Qiao Family Compound

The courtyard's three sides face the street, while the courtyard itself is completely surrounded by a 10-meter-high sealed water-milled brick wall. Yards and houses are linked with other yards and houses while the sidewalks above row upon row of roofs - such as the Xuanshan, Xieshan, Yingshan, Juanpeng, and Horizon roofs -- link up the battlements.

Qiao Family Compound
Qiao Family Compound

Yards contain smaller yards as well as gardens. The doors, windows, eaves, stone stairs, quadrangular railings, and the Chuanxin, Pianxin, and Jiaodao yard are all beautifully shaped. You can see brick carvings everywhere in the yards: backbone carving, wall carving, and railing carving, all of which are based on figures, allusions, flowers and plants, birds, beast, chess, and painting and calligraphy. The carving designs are so exquisite and their workmanship, so fine, fully showing the special style of residential building in the Qing Dynasty.

In 1990, this ancient mansion became more famous all over China and abroad thanks to the movie "Raise the Red Lantern" by the director Zhang Yimou. After the filming was finished, the drama production team left behind several hundred red lanterns. Since then, these lanterns have been the most important decoration both in the Qiao Family Grand Courtyard and other jin shang courtyards.

Qiao Family Compound
Qiao Family Compound

In 1986, the Qi County government rebuilt the courtyard into the Qi County Folk Museum that features art, science, and other things of interest. It contains 42 exhibition rooms displaying a wide range of material covering subject areas such as years, time, season, food, clothing, shelter and transportation, wedding and funeral ceremonies, and agriculture trade activities. In total, approximately 2,000 pieces of exhibits reflect the folktale custom in the Shanxi Jinzhong area.

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