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The Mou Family Manor in Gudu Town is located only 2.5 kilometers from Xixia in Shandong Province. This manor is a well preserved, large scale manor that belonged to Mu Molin, a landlord.
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The Mou Family Manor is located close to the Yantai City in Shangdong Province. This has been the residence of the Mou Molin family for several generations. Mou Molin was a very powerful and wealthy landlord in northern China during Qing Dynasty. It is also the most typical and best preserved residential complexes from the Qing Dynasty for landlords. The complex includes six courtyards and it covers an area of around 20,000 sq m and has more than 480 rooms.
The Mou Family Manor was built first during Qing Dynasty’s Yongzheng period. The construction of the complex was completed during the Republic’s 24th year. The manor faces south and is surrounded by rivers and hills. It has all the characteristics of being grand, firm and well set. It is also the most typical, well protected and largest scale feudal society manor in this part of China.
Due to the grand scale of the manor and its deeper cultural connotation, it has been praised as the treasure of all traditional buildings, the living fossil of all manors and the accumulation of 600 years of various architectural techniques. It brings together all the great achievements in buildings and possesses great historical, cultural and art connotation.
The Mu Family’s ancestors had moved to the town of Gudu in the year 1723 in Qing Dynasty. They purchased a very large land and used the land to build a manor. The family had occupied more than 4000 hectares of arable lands as well as 800 hectares of mountain forests until 1945.
The Early Use
In the past, the family had taken on 93 tenants in the manor. They had also set up several factories, herbal medicinal shops, groceries, private banks and pawnshops in Shanghai, Yantai, Xixia County and Gudu Town. All the courtyards in the building follow the traditional arrangement style of Siheyuan with the houses all arranged around the courtyard. This is quite typical for the residential houses of Jiaodong area.
The buildings in the complex are all beautifully painted and carved with animals and flowers. The lattice windows have vividly painted and carved flowers. The manor walls had been built with multicolored river gravels. This makes it look like tiger’s skin and the walls are therefore referred to as tiger walls. The gravels had also been applied so evenly and with very little space between that the walls in the complex are extremely smooth. It was said that coins had been inserted between the gravels to fill up the space and achieve mirror-like smoothness in the walls.
An Extravagant Project
The building of this manor had been a very extravagant project. The building had cost over 430,000 silver taels. This allows visitors to understand what went on to actually complete the construction of this project. When the family built their family manor, they might not have imagined that they created a real architectural wonder which would amaze travelers and architects later. It is often known as the little forbidden city due to its grand scale.