Dayi Liu Mansion
Dayi Liu Mansion In Chengdu Sichuan Province.
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Encompassing 7,000 square meters, the Old Mansion is a traditional Chinese architectural complex with 27 courtyards, three gardens and about 180 halls and rooms. The polygonal compound has seven entrances. Embrasures are found on high outer walls near each of the entrances. Inside the massive main gate of the Mansion is a rectangular courtyard. At the west side of the yard is the parlour of the complex. The hall leads to a room with traditional Chinese decoration and a room with decorations in a Western style. There, tourists can find both traditional Chinese furniture and sofas and carpets from the United States. They display the landlord’s combined taste. On the opposite side of the parlour is a hall sheltering a sedan chair, a rickshaw and an old black Ford, three vehicles used by the landlord. The car was imported in 1942 from the United States. Through the parlour, tourists step into the inner courtyard of the Mansion where Liu Wencai刘文彩(1887-1949), his wife, and four concubines lived. Furniture made of sandalwood and daily utensils made of gold, silver, ivory and jade can be found in any room of the courtyard. The most eye-catching item is Liu Wencai’s bed in his living room. Covering an area of nine square meters, the bed made of sandalwood has a gate engraved with patterns of dragons and phoenixes. Six wooden columns support the bed on which golden dragons structure looks like a throne of emperors. It was said that the bed cost the output of some seven hectares of top quality farmland in a year. There is a room specially decorated for the landlord to smoke opium on set with gold, silver, jade, ivory and rhinoceros horn. Another smoking room can be found in a garden shaded by rampant trees. It was Liu’s smoking room in summer. A heavy opium user, he stored a large amount of the drug all the year round in some underground rooms of the mansion.
The Rent Collection Courtyard 收租院 is exhibited in the backyard of the mansion. The 114 figures, completed between 1964 and 1965, are scattered in halls around the rectangular courtyard. These figures all have vivid expressions, and various positions. They depict past iniquities in rent collecting that caused peasants suffering and gave rise to the revolutionary spirit that led to the new China debut in 1949. While moving through these sculptures, visitors feel as though they can interact with the figures, which give visitors a deeper, unique insight into the country’s art and history of the era.
The three-storey Building for Ladies in the tallest structure in the complex. Constructed for Liu Wencai’ s three daughters, the structure with flying eaves and overhung roofs provide visitors a bird’s-eye view of the entire estate.
The New Mansion is about 300 meters from the Old Mansion and twice as large. It combines traditional Chinese and modern Western architectural styles for its 27 courtyards, four gardens and nurseries, two tennis courts and about 160 halls and rooms. Most of the rooms have windows bigger than those found in the Old Mansion. Their natural lighting therefore is much better. And the gardens and the courtyards in the New Mansion are larger than those in the Old Mansion with better landscaping. Therefore, the New Mansion looks more pleasant than the old one. As neither Liu Wencai nor Liu Wenhui moved into the mansion, it houses very few of the brothers’ treasures. At present, a Sichuan folk customs exhibition is run all the year round at the mansion. It is worth a visit.
The mansions both old and new belonged to Liu Wencai and Liu Wenhui---the two brothers. Now the place has become an educational base for people not to forget the old days when working people were oppressed and exploited. At the same time it has become a booming tourist site for those tourists exploring Sichuan Province. The attraction lies about 50 kilometers northwest of Chengdu and offers both a symbol of the new China’s masterpiece and one of the China’s best preserved landlord mansions. In 1980, Sichuan provincial government proclatimed the mansions one of the most important cultural relics sites in the province. It joined the state cultural relics protection list in 1996. Also known as the Dayi Liu Wencai’s Mansions, it was built and occupied mainly by Liu Wencai, the biggest landlord and one of the wealthiest landlords in Sichuan Province during the 1930s and 1940s.