Pavilion of Prince Teng

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Front view of the reconstructed Pavilion of Prince Teng

The Pavilion of Prince Teng (simplified Chinese: 滕王阁; traditional Chinese: 滕王閣; pinyin: Téngwáng Gé) or Tengwang Pavilion is a building in the north west of the city of Nanchang, in Jiangxi province, China, on the east bank of the Gan River and is one of the Three Great Towers of southern China. The other two are the Yueyang Tower and the Yellow Crane Pavilion. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over its history. The present building was rebuilt in 1989 on the original site. The rebuilding plan was devised by the famous architect Liang Sicheng,and now the Pavilion of Prince Teng is the landmark of Nanchang. There are nine floors in total. The main architectural structure is in Song dynasty wooden style, showing the magnificence of the Pavilion.

History[edit]

The Pavilion of Prince Teng was first built in 653 AD, by Li Yuanying (simplified Chinese: 李元婴; traditional Chinese: 李元嬰; pinyin: Lǐ Yuányīng), the younger brother of Emperor Taizong of Tang and uncle of Emperor Gaozong of Tang. Li Yuanying was enfeoffed as Prince Teng in 639 and spent his early years in Suzhou. In 652 he was assigned the governorship of Nanchang where the pavilion served as his townhouse. The Pavilion of Prince Teng is the only existing royal architecture in southern China. Twenty years later, the building was rebuilt by the new governor. Upon its completion, a group of local intelligentsia gathered to compose prose and poetry about the building. The most famous of these is the Preface to the Pavilion of Prince Teng (Chinese: 滕王阁序 (p=Téngwáng Gé Xùjì) by Wang Bo. This piece made the Pavilion of Prince Teng a household name in China down to the present day. The phrase 时来风送腾王阁 appears in the (Chinese: 滕王阁序 (p=Téngwáng Gé Xùjì) by Wang Bo; it means "wind comes to say goodbye to the Pavilion". This phrase is famous in the city of Nanchang. The old famous saying 藤断葫芦剪,塔圮豫章残 perfectly describes the position of the pavilion in the city of Nanchang, meaning that if the Pavilion of Prince Teng and the Shëngjin Tower fall, the treasure and resources of Nanchang will not exist any more, which shows that the Pavilion of Prince Teng is highly valued and worshiped by people of Nanchang.

The Pavilion was to be destroyed and rebuilt a total of 29 times over the next centuries.[1] The building itself changed shape and function many times. The penultimate construction was during the Tongzhi era of the Qing Dynasty. That building was destroyed in October 1926 during the chaotic warlords era.[2]

The Present[edit]

Calligraphy of Mao Zedong in the entrance hall
Theatre stage

The present Pavilion of Prince Teng was built according to the design of famous architect Liang Sicheng, and was completed on 8 October 1989; now a landmark of Nanchang. The building is of reinforced concrete, but decorated in faux-Song Dynasty style. It is 57.5 metres tall and has nine stories. The building has a total floor area of 13000 square metres.

The building sits atop a 12-metre tall concrete platform, which is intended to symbolise the now-destroyed ancient city wall. A stainless steel tablet at the entrance is engraved with a calligraphy work of Mao Zedong. The Pavilion takes the city as its background and the river as its mirror. The whole image is as beautiful as the traditional Chinese painting. The beautiful garden which is built in 1989 is the perfect ornament of the Pavilion. The building mainly serves tourism purposes. Apart from internal decoration, attractions include a theatre staging simulated period musical performances, and displays of reconstructed ancient instruments. There are some restaurants and souvenir shops. The streets around the pavilion have been designed to conform with its style. This area has become the centre of Nanchang's antiques trade.

Influences[edit]

The Pavilion of Prince Teng achieved national fame through the Preface to the Pavilion of Prince Teng. As a result, it was endowed by later generations with almost legendary status as an example of magnificent architecture. When the Forbidden City was built, its corner towers were built to imitate the Pavilion of Prince Teng and the Yellow Crane Pavilion as depicted in Song Dynasty paintings. (Strangely, both pavilions are depicted identically in surviving paintings). These uniquely structured corner towers remain some of the most valued architectural treasures of the Forbidden City. The Pavilion of Prince Teng was regarded as the holy land in several dynasties in the history of China. In the mean time, it is the ancient library as well, storing a large number of precious scriptures and poems.

Construction Timeline[3][edit]

Year Event
653 Constructed
675 Reconstructed
790 Reconstructed
820 Reconstructed
848 Reconstructed after being destroyed in a fire
1108 Reconstructed. Smaller structures added to the north and south of the main pavilion. The northern structure is named "Pulling Emerald-Green Pavilion" (Chinese: 挹翠亭; pinyin: Yì Cuì Tíng) and the southern structure is named "Pressing River Pavilion" (Chinese: 压江亭; pinyin: Yā Jiāng Tíng).
1294 Placed on top of the city walls after being damaged several times during wars.
1336 Reconstruction started in 1334 and completed in 1336
1436 Reconstructed after sinking into the river. It is renamed "Greeting Kindness Hall" (Chinese: 迎恩堂; pinyin: Yíng Ēn Táng).
1452 Reconstructed after being destroyed in a fire. It is renamed "Number 1 Building in Xi Jiang" (Chinese: 西江第一楼; pinyin: Xī Jiāng Dí Yì Lóu).
1468 Reconstructed after it collapses. Its original name restored.
1527 Reconstructed after being destroyed earlier in the Chen Hao Uprising (Chinese: 宸濠之乱; pinyin: Chén Háo zhi Luàn).
1599 Reconstructed after being near collapse.
1616 Reconstructed after being destroyed in a fire.
1634 Reconstruction starts in 1633 and completes the following year.
1648 Destroyed when it catches fire while defending Ming generals torch surrounding area to open a clear perimeter against advancing Qing troops.
1654 Reconstructed
1679 Reconstructed after being destroyed in a fire.
1682 Reconstructed after being destroyed in a fire.
1685 Reconstructed after being destroyed in a fire.
1702 Reconstructed
1706 Reconstructed after being destroyed in a fire.
1731 Destroyed in a fire
1736 Reconstructed
1743 Reconstructed and again renamed "Number 1 Building in Xi Jiang".
1788 Reconstructed after it collapses.
1805 Reconstructed
1812 Reconstructed
1847 Reconstructed twice after multiple fires.
1853 Destroyed with much of Nanchang in a three day fire during Tai Ping Rebellion attack.
1873 Reconstruction started in 1872 and completed the following year.
1909 Reconstructed after being destroyed in a fire.
1926 Destroyed by defenders when Nanchang is attacked by the Northern Expedition.
1935 An attempt to reconstruct is halted due to the Japanese invasion.
1985 Reconstructed
1991 The smaller buildings "Pulling Emerald-Green Pavilion" and "Pressing River Pavilion" are restored.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Wang: 1.
  2. ^ Wang: 31.
  3. ^ Wang: 236-246.

References[edit]

Coordinates: 28°41′2.76″N 115°52′32.88″E / 28.6841000°N 115.8758000°E / 28.6841000; 115.8758000