As I mentioned in my previous black girl in China post, this is what I was most looking forward to during our time in Guanzhou because I couldn’t leave China without seeing an ancient Chinese temple! I’ll let the internets break down the history of this amazing building for you…
The Chen family temple or Chen Clan Academy is an academic temple in Guangzhou. It was built by the 72 Chen clans (the biggest family in the Guandong province at the time) for their juniors’ accommodation and preparation for the imperial examinations in 1894 in Qing Dynasty. Later it was changed to be the Chen Clan’s Industry College, and then middle schools afterward. Now it houses the Guangdong Folk Art Museum. It consist of 19 buildings with nine halls and six courtyards. This huge complex exemplifies traditional Chinese architecture and decoration style, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments worldwide.
I had only seen buildings of this design and type in Chinese movies so I was so excited! Our guide Joy took us through every detail of the temple starting with the carvings on the roof of the building which made of limestone, stone and porcelain, the huge stones lions at the entrance and even the meaning of carvings on the huge indoor screen.
Joy mentioned that it is believed that if you touch the ball in the mouth of the male lion you will attract riches to your family. I made an attempt but unfortunately failed…
The roof carvings were absolutely stunning! They show scenes of characters from famous Chinese plays and dramas and comedies. The top level is porcelain, second level is limestone and 3rd is stone.
After Joy finished her little history lecture she let us wander around the halls and get our tourist on.
At some point we got hungry and gave up on trying to explore the whole building since going to have lunch seemed like a better idea. We took a few more pictures and left.
The final picture below is my favorite because it shows how much the Chinese value their rich history. In the background above the carvings is a crane at a construction site where no doubt a new million floor sky scraper is being built. The old and the new existing together.