Plan your Kaifeng travel on your Henan tour? Kaifeng is listed as one of the seven great ancient capital cities in China. In Kaifeng, you can see some authentic relics and old architectures. Shanshaangan Guild Hall is an interesting place you cannot afford to miss if you are going to appreciate its ornate carvings out of stone, brick and wood done over 200 years ago.
Shanshaangan Guild Hall was the former lodging and meeting place for the merchants from Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province and Gansu Province. It was first built from the ruins of Xuda Palace in 1775 during the reign of Qianlong Emperor in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Xuda was one of the founding fathers of Ming Dynasty ( 1368-1644). The name of the road where the present Guild is located is called Xuda Palace Road.
The past 200 years have seen Shanshaangan Hall going through numerous ups and downs. What we we see today is a small part of the original guild. Or more exactly it is the only remaining Guangdi Temple building inside the original guild hall. The whole temple architecture is rife with exquisite carvings out of stone, brick and wood, which vividly tell the Buddhist stories and folk tales with great artistic value.
The remaining Guangdin Temple is mainly composed of 7 parts- A huge screen wall, Opera Tower, Bell and Drum Tower, East Wing and West Wing Halls, Traditional Pailou (decorated archway), the Great Hall.
Well, let’s have a close look at those seven delicate pasts of Shanshaangan Guild or more exactly the well preserved Guandi Temple.
The entrance to Shanshaangan Guild Hall – a left side gate with a huge screen wall.
Entering the side gate, you will see a spacious compound with the huge screen wall on the south and the back of the opera tower on the north. First look at the screen wall. The whole screen wall is a trove of incredible carving arts out of stone and brick. The huge screen wall is 8.60m high, 16.5m high and 0.65 thick and composed of three parts – base, body and full of ornate stone and brick carvings.
In the middle of the screeen wall is a large stone carving of two dragons playing one spider.
On the upper part of the screen wall elegantly carved with Chinese fairy tales. The vase, flowers and lucky clouds.
Now we are in a compound or a courtyard surrounded by the opera tower on the south, the decorated pailou, two wings building and the north great hall.
North of the Opera Tower is the Pailou and the Great Hall flanked by East and West Wing Houses, Bell Tower and Drum Tower.
Now let’s look at the wood carvings on the roof of the West Wing Building. This is “Nine Lions play ropes”, indicating 9 generation family.
A vivid wood carving of folk custom – 25 figures, playing pipa,singing, listening….
The Decorated Archway with two three-legged poles supporting the Pailou. On the archway is carved with tales about Guan Yu.
This is the northern tip of the Guild – the Great Hall dedicated to Guan Yu. The Great Hall is the highlight of the wood carvings in the compound. It has seven layers of wood carvings. From the top to the lower, you will have the first layer – Bats ( refers to happiness and Wealth ); second layer: lucky clouds.
The third layer is Two dragons play one spider
The fourth layer is the carvings of animals – deer, horse, elephant….
Two dragons play one spider
Any questions, just drop a line.