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Residence of Gan Xi: its ‘ninety-nine and a half’ rooms

Oct 15, 2009

To view 100 more beautiful images about this huge private housing complex, you can visit here (in Chinese): 庭院深深,40D实拍九十九间半 by [email protected]

Gan Xi, the Jinshi and His residence in Nanjing

Gan Xi was born in 1797. He became Jinshi (top examinees of Highest Annual National Examination) in 1838, among others such as Tseng Kuo-fan as well as Li Hong-zhang’s father, Wen-An Li in the same year. In Beijing, next to the Confucian Temple in Cheng-Xian Street (east of Imperial Academy), there are more than 100 blocks of stone tablets recording the Jinshis of Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The one for 38th of Daoguang Era has inscriptions of “Gan Xi, Jiangning county “, which proves his success.

Gan Xi’s residence house began construction in Jiaqing era. Commonly known as “ninety-nine and a half rooms”, together with the Xiaoling Tomb of Ming, Nanjing Ming Dynasty City Wall are the “Three Landscapes of Ming and Qing Dynasties in Nanjing. With a high historical, scientific and tourism value, Gan Xi Residence is the largest and best preserved private house in Nanjing area.

Why “99 and a half”?

Number “9” is the largest yang number and a lucky number. Beyond 9 is 10, which means an end, while the ending implies declining. “9 and 5 the respect” is also a saying in China, representing the unique status of “9”.

gan xi house

China’s largest housing complex is the Forbidden City, known as “9999 and a half rooms”; the largest municipal architecture is the Confucius Temple in Shandong, known as “999 and a half rooms”; while civil residences are limited to at most “99 and a half rooms”. “A half” tells the modesty below “100” limit as well as the proud of only half a step on to the target. In fact, Ganxi’s House has more than 300 rooms.

Its layout is in strict accordance with the concept of feudal society and the patriarchal family system hierarchy. It also pays attention to accommodate many children and grandchildren, several generations living under one roof, which is reflected in the architectural sense of the scale of the Building. As a result, all kinds of space location, decoration, size, shape have a roughly uniform level requirements.

The only one survived modernization and now served as “Nanjing Folk Museum”

There used to be many old large “99 and a half rooms” housing complexes in Nanjing area before 1949. Unfortunately, most of them were torn down in the modernization of “new China”.

In 1982, Nanjing Cultural Relics Department conducted a survey for cultural relics in Nanjing region. They found the last “99 and a half rooms” house – Gan Xi’s house. In order to effectively utilize and reproduce the style of Ming and Qing Dynasties southern residential houses, the Department restored part of the complex, built Nanjing Folk Museum, open to public in November 1992.

Ganxi Door

Because a lot of rooms are occupied by local people, the current renovation has only restored the parts at 15th, 17th, and 19th of Nan-Pu-Ting Street, and divided into three sub-theme exhibitions.

On the 15th displays Nanjing traditional houses. Visitors can visit the lobby, hall, inner hall, master room, a Buddhist shrine, the bridal chamber, boudoir, den, etc., You will experience Qing Dynasty residential inhabitation.

On the 17th shows folk arts in Nanjing area. Craft and folk art masters are showing their expertise here: shadow shows, figurines, magic, 9 chain rings, paper cutting and so on. Visitors can spend a little money to learn some craftsman skill.

On the 19th exhibits photos of Nanjing traditional houses. Lots of Qinhuai River style architecture photography is shown here, such as multi-hallway buildings, fine wood carvings, brick carvings and stone carvings and other architectural elements. It is a treasure place to study the residential house of Ming and Qing Dynasty in Nanjing.

[Chinese Keywords]
甘熙 故居

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