The renowned Chen’s Ancestral Temple, also referred to as the Chen Clan Academy is a noteworthy visitor attraction in Guangzhou. Today it has been transformed into the Guangdong Folk Art Museum, a notable institution which will draw the attention of anyone interested in the traditional arts and craftwork of China.
The history of the temple stretches back to the reign of the Qing Dynasty when it was decided that all the Chen clans would contribute funds to build a shrine where the clansmen could conduct the worship of ancestors in the Chinese tradition. The venue would also be a place where the young men of the clan could study and prepare themselves for the prestigious imperial examinations.
The expansive temple is a large and complex compound consisting of 19 buildings with nine halls as well as six courtyards. The three major buildings are the Head-entrance, Back Hall and Gathering Hall. The buildings at the compound are noted for their ornate decorations which may be seen on the interior and exterior of the halls, as well as in the ridges, beams, columns and walls. A splendid collection of stone carvings, wood carvings, brick carvings, pottery, iron engravings and plaster creations may be seen at the complex.
The principal building at the complex is Juxian Hall, located at the centre of the compound; it is now used as an ancestral hall. Facing the hall is a gazebo of stone, encircled with stone balustrades. The exquisitely fashioned folding screen located within Juxian Hall is considered to be a splendid example of Chinese woodcarving.
There is no doubt that the elaborate sculptures of stone, wood and brick are a highlight at the compound. Displaying varied styles and concepts these works demonstrate precision, finesse and a perfect technique. Additionally these works show influences of foreign artistic techniques including Western themes. It may be seen that these diverse influences have combined to create a unique blend of Chinese and foreign artistic traditions.
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Chandrishan Williams is a travel writer who writes under the pen name, Caleb Falcon. He specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers. Google+