Constructed as far back as 1894 Guangzhou’s Chen Clan Academy is one of the few remaining academic religious edifices built during the Qing Dynasty. Established to serve as a school and a boarding venue for hundreds of Chen Clan students preparing for imperial examinations the venue now serves as a premier cultural institution in the region housing many artifacts within its expansive confines. Spread out in to 19 structures the Chen Clan Academy down 7th Road, Zhongshan is home to nine auditoriums in addition to six scenic courtyards. Renowned for its diverse collection of ancient Chinese art works the venue is perhaps best known for the exquisite wood carvings, pottery and plaster and brick carvings as well as engravings that decorate its interiors. The Guangdong Folk Art Museum is also found on-site making the Academy a veritable treasure trove for art lovers.
One of the must-see highlights of the 13200m2 space include its three main buildings which are dubbed the Head Entrance, Back Hall and the Gathering Hall. The Back Hall was once used as an ancestor worship chamber with memorial tablets contained on wooden bookcases while the Gathering hall served as a meeting place and worship hall for clansmen during its heyday.
Intricately decorated are every turn the elaborate and ornate interiors of the Academy are its chief attractions as every wall, beam, pillar and ridge contains artistic renderings in brick, plaster, iron or wood. The 11 ridge crest pottery works at the Academy are one of its main architectural attributes as they are featured in each of the nine halls and depict scenes from folk dramas. The finest wood carving in the venue however are the 8 pieces adorning the heard entrance beams which depict epic scenes from Celebrating the Birth of the God Mother and Tongque Tai. The 16 double sided screen door carvings at the Gathering Hall are equally stunning with scenes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and other tales.
The Academy also boasts 1800m of plaster carvings on ceilings in corridors while the 40 figure brick carving of the Liu Qing taming ‘the Wolf’ is its most impressive brick carving. The platform rails of the Academy features most of the iron based engravings displaying symmetrical designs based on the themes from “The three goats”, “Goldfish in a Pond”, “Dragons and Orbs” and The Qilin and the Phoenix”.
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Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world. Google+