Pingyao Historic City and Qiao Family Courtyard
Historic cities all over the world are facing challenges on how to best preserve their architectural heritage. We need good examples to follow. This study explores the historic city of Pingyao in China’s Shanxi Province, and the Qiao Family Courtyard in Qiaojiapu Village of Qi County nearby. Pingyao is a representative of northern Chinese city planning and vernacular architecture during the Ming (1368‒1644) and Qing (1644‒1911) dynasties, and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Qiao Family Courtyard is famous not only because of its majestic architectural compound and exquisite craftsmanship, but also it embodies the unique style of Chinese residential architecture in the Qing dynasty. Zhang Yimou’s 1991 film “Raise the Red Lantern” was shot here. Hu Mei’s 2006 TV series “Qiao’s Grand Courtyard” based on the business history of the family have made the compound internationally acclaimed. From an architectural and urbanist perspective, this paper examines what has made Pingyao Historic City and the Qiao Family Courtyard resilient and responsible. The findings reveal, among other things that, Confucian ethics of honesty, trustworthiness, and righteousness were the backbone accounting for the robust success of Shanxi merchants who held deep-rooted cultural values, and who conducted their businesses accordingly.
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