Hangzhou – Paradise on Earth

December 4, 2012

If you ever visit Hangzhou, after cruising on the West Lake, you may want to see this tourist attraction in the city. Before 1949, it was the home of a wealthy family but was first owned by Hu Xue-yan (1823-1885).

Hu Xue-yan made his money in banking then expanded into pawn shops, import-export, real estate and made his biggest fortune as the founder of a Chinese herbal medicine company. After he died, his family lost the fortune and sold the house.

The house in these pictures and video was built in 1872. After it was renovated in 2008, it was turned into a museum and tourist attraction worth seeing.

When the Communists won China’s Civil War in 1949, the mansion (covering about two acres) was owned by another family that made its fortune first in the silk industry then banking.


rock art in garden with tunnels

There’s more to the mansion than this example of rock art in the garden you see in the photo above.  These rocks were added when the mansion was built. There was a time in China during the Imperial era when rock art was popular. Hidden under the building and among the rocks are manmade caves.

During a visit to Hangzhou, for a few yuan, you will be able to tour most of the mansion and the gardens (there is more than one garden beyond what you see in the two photographs).

The Hu Xue-yan mansion is in a city with a population of more than eight million, but once inside its walls you have no sense of the crowded city outside. Once the owner was home and the gates locked at night, it was a world-of-tranquility apart from the city.

The city of Hangzhou is more than two-thousand years old and was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279 AD) before Kublai Khan, who founded the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368 AD), conquered all of China.

Pond with carp – Hu Xue-yan’s Mansion

While Kublai Khan ruled China, Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in 1290.

There is a famous Chinese saying that says, “In heaven there is paradise, on Earth there is Su and Hang (Hangzhou – Paradise on Earth).

Discover Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Mongol Empire & Yuan Dynasty (1279 – 1368 AD) – Part 2/5

October 20, 2010

Kublai Khan’s mother took the time to educate her younger son in the teachings of Confucius. Without renouncing the violent ways of the Mongols, she encouraged the two sides of his nature that would be the key to his success.

In 1236, at the age of twenty-one, Kublai was granted his own land to rule in northern China by his uncle, who was the great khan.

At the time, the bureaucrats and officials heavily taxed the people and the people were often forced to work for the state like road building.

Encouraged by his mother, Kublai Khan decided to change this and brought about reforms.  The peasants of northern China appreciated what he did for them.

However, traditional Mongol ruling families distrusted what he was doing in China.

When his brother Mongke became the great khan in 1251 after his uncle’s death, Kublai Khan was given more land to rule in northeastern China.

It was now time to prove that he was a warrior. To the Mongols, military success was a sign of a strong leader.

His chance came when his older brother decided to go to war with the powerful Southern Sung Dynasty.

Kublai Khan made the first move in 1252. When he was victorious in his first battle, he returned to Northern China and built a new city to rival his brother’s capital.

This led to a family rift that threatened to tear the empire apart, but his strong relationship with Mongke solved the problem.

On the next campaign to conquer the Southern Song Dynasty, Kublai Khan’s older brother became sick and died. The armies were recalled to decide who the next great khan would be.

Continue to Part 3 or return to The Yuan Dynasty – Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


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