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Located in the south of Hubei, known as "the South Gate of Hubei", Xianning has great renown for “Chibi old haunt of the Three Kingdoms, inland nuclear power city”, which has great advantages of its "mountain", "water" "geography","location","culture","scenery","energy"and the trend of development. Xianning is a suitable place to do ...[more]
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Stepping into the NO.1 Dafu Residence of Hubei (part 2)
http://English.xianning.gov.cn 09-07-09
 

  Reported by Yang Huamei and Kong Fansheng (http://www.xnnews.com.cn)

  A manor and the Mr. Wang Dike

  “Yu Yuan”, a manor of a county magistrate in the Qing Dynasty, is located by Ximo Pond and with an area of more than ten thousand square meters. Just the numbers of the main rooms can up to 64. Dafu Residence which is called the NO.1 Dafu Residence of Hubei by the cultural relic experts is the main building of the manor. The manor was built in Emperor Tongzhi’s reign (1861-1875), the house owner was Wang Mingfan whose pseudonym was Pufu and born in the ninth year of Emperor Daoguang’s reign. According to the records of Wang’s ancestral hall, he passed the provincial civil service examination under the feudal Chinese examination system and obtained an official position in the imperial court. He had been the county magistrate of several counties in Jiangxi, including Anle, Shangrao, Fengcheng, Ruichang and Pingxiang. During that time he built a grand mansion in his hometown. Yuyuan was surrounded by high walls and formed a enclosed world. It is the product of the ancient closed political, economic, and cultural system. The artificially dug Jade Belt River flows closely to the yard, which is not only the great originality of messuage water system construction but also a stroke of genius of building prosperous places with good location. The layout inside the yard is huge and delicate. The massuage faces south west with a pond in the east, an orchard in the west, a bamboo garden in the south and a backyard garden in the north. This mansion with extensive courtyards and very high walls is in the top position of all the Ming and Qing Dynasties dwelling architectures in Hubei Province. It has been listed in the provincial key cultural relic protection units of Hubei Province.

  It is said that to build this messuage, two brickkilns were built specially, and they baked bricks and tiles for three years.

  Being an official for almost thirty years, Wang Mingfan praised himself to be incorruptible, cautious, diligent, sensible and determined. He was honored as “a capable official of Jiangxi Province” by his superior officer. When he was in Shangrao he was ordered to go to Nankang to set ambushes to capture the bandits and rescue Nan’an in danger. For this he was called “the intelligent official”. When he was in Pingxiang he adopted Baojia system to stabilize social order (Baojia system was a law proclaimed in the southern Song Dynasty. It demanded all the family which has two or more male labors to provide one of them to be the member of Bao. These people would receive military training in the off-season. They would take turns to inspect public security at night. In this way military expenditure was saved and a strict security nets were built to prevent the rebellion of the farmers) and store up grain to save the poor. He built a “blessing and benefit storehouse” to relieve the victims of natural calamities. He received great reputation among his people as the words written to describe those days “all the people eulogize his works, more than one hundred temples were built for him, and sacrificed every spring and autumn.” When he was in Ruichang, he built a long dike to prevent flood because Ruichang was surrounded by river and had many lakes inside, to remember his contribution, people named the dike Mr. Wang Dike. Until today, this dike is still playing a role. One side is Mr. Wang Dike, one side stands Yuyuan. They are the track of Wang Mingfan’s official career that leaves to the memory of history.

  A large messuage, a small “imperial court”

  People are amazed at the complete facilities and institutions inside Yuyuan. In economy, in the north of the forecourt there were seven warehouses standing in a line, each warehouse had a holding capacity of fifteen thousand kilogram. It was one of the richest families in that region. There number of stable, mill, weaving room, woodshed, kitchen, miscellaneous house and so on could add up to more than thirty. Wang Mingfan had a son named Zongyi who ran a “Yiji Chinese Medicine Dispensary” at home, with daily necessities available in all varieties. In culture and education, in the southeast corner of the forecourt there was a family school named “Preaching Building” with an area of 400 square meters. A pool named “Kun Hua Pool” (Kun is an enormous legendary fish, KunHua means it can change into a roc which is the largest bird in the legend) stands in front of the building, which is the special studying place of the children and grandchildren. He hoped that one day they could spread their wings and fly up to pursue their ambitions like a roc. A family Peking Opera Theater was built opposite to the family ancestral hall. They were the place for the family to enjoy Peking opera for entertainment and play music for worshiping ancestors. In politics and religion, apart from building family ancestral hall to carry on and promote filial piety and strict the domestic discipline, there were more than ten boards used when the county magistrate went on a tour of inspection with words “Seventh-rank official of Jiangxi Shangrao” “Seventh-rank official of Jiangxi Pingxiang” “avoiding” “solemn and silent”, standing on the long lane which serves as a axile wire. A whole set of flags, weapons, etc. used in the government office in feudal china was displayed in his house. Especially, there was a small and narrow house with only one small window built beside the concierge room. It was very cold and dark inside the room just like a cell which was built for locking up the bandits or thieves who broke into or stole in the house and people who resisted paying rent. When the family was still in his father’s mana, t a group of local ruffians gathered together and prepared to rob his house, but as the news that Wang Mingfan had passed the provincial service examination under the feudal Chinese examination system was sent, their plan failed. According to offspring’s words, Wang family still had eight maids in the Republican period, so the family servants kept for protecting the house in those days should be quite a lot. In these existing facilities we can feel the framework of a small feudal court.

  Wang Mingfan had six sons and two daughters. The eldest son, Zonglian was the county magistrate of Pingli County in Shanxi Province. The second son, Zongluo was the backup official who assists the work county magistrate. This big family is the unification which was maintained throughout by the implementation of the autocratic manaBaoshient of family. When Wang Mingfan was at home, all the children and grandchildren had to extend greetings to him every morning. Even the sons who worked outside had to write to report everything to him every month.

  A memorial to the throne and a ChaoYi Dafu (a Dafu who can discuss in the morning meeting in the imperial court)

  In the last years of Emperor Tongzhi’s reign, Wang Mingfan’s father was more than thirty years, as the only son he had to ask for leave to attend on his father. Later his father passed away, he had to mourn for his father. He stayed home for more than ten years until in 1884 the imperial court needed a large number of talents. Recommended by his superior officer,Wang Mingfan was summoned to go to the capital. He was appointed to be the magistrate of Jiangxi Province. Wang Mingfan felt sorrow at the deteriorative current condition and the truth that the government couldn’t make full use of the talents. He decided to retreat and left the officialdom by way of a provincial burial. He went back home to teach his sons and play with his grandsons, and grow flowers and plant bamboos for more than twenty years.

  Being an unemployed official, Wang Mingfan felt depressed all the time for not taking a important official position. Even one of his in-laws who was of the vice director of the postal department in Peking thought it was unfair for him. He wrote to Wang,“Depending on your ability and sagacity, you should have been a military chef executive to stabilize a large region. It is a pity that you just be appointed as a magistrate.” Actually, Wang Mingfan’s intention of pledging loyalty to become an official in order to become prosperous never vanished. In the crisis year of 1900 involving the Boxer uprising and the eight nation military invasion, when the news that the Eight-power allied forces had attacked and occupied Peking and the royal members had fled to the west came, Wang Mingfan’ felt grief and indignation in the middle night. He drafted a memorial “my humble opinion on saving the country” to the throne. He trudged thousands of miles with his more than sixty-year-old gerontic body to Xi’an, the refuge place of Emperor Guangxu and Empress Dowager Cixi. But as The Peace Treaty of 1901 (also called Boxer Protocol) had been signed, and the royal members had returned to Peking, the memorial failed to be filed and he had no chance to present himself before the emperor, which was the most regrettable stroke in his declining years.

  The dying Qing Dynasty attempted to save the failing country by excessively conferring official position. Wang Mingfan was also awarded the official title of “Chaoyi Dafu”, he enjoyed the eighth-rank official’s salary before he died. His coffin was sent go upstream more than one hundred miles to be buried in the source of the lakes as the long and tortuous course of his official career.


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