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The Pavilion of Prince Teng

Updated on November 15, 2015

The Pavilion of Prince Teng

Unique Places to Visit in China: The Pavilion of Prince Teng


The Pavilion of Prince Teng, originally built during the year 653 is one of the Four Great Towers of China; the other three are the Yellow Crane Tower, the Yueyang Tower, and the Penglai Pagoda. It gets its name from its creator Prince Teng, the younger brother of the Tang Dynasty emperor Taizong. Found in southern China, its location is in the northwestern portion of the city of Nanchang, on the eastern bank of the famous Gan River found within the province of Jiangxi. It is a structure possessing a long tumultuous history that has been destroyed and reconstructed many times. Teng’s Pavilion, as it is seen today was completed in 1989 using reinforced concrete. However, it is decorated by a style indicative of 11th century Song China (960-1279). Due in part to its modern construction style, the Pavilion does not even remotely resemble its original appearance from 7th century Tang China (618-907) when it was a much shorter structure comprised of wood. Despite a multitude of stylized changes which according to some may have taken away its historical personality, the Pavilion as it is seen today is a spectacular sight to behold. The Pavilion of Prince Teng has been considered a cultural icon to the Chinese since shortly after its inception. As such, its appearance has greatly influenced the building style of many structures throughout the country’s history. Notably, upon their completion in 1420, the corner towers of the famous Forbidden City in Beijing were built to duplicate the style of Teng’s Pavilion. Any tourists who have a thirst for learning more about China’s long illustrious history would be well served by visiting the Pavilion of Prince Teng. It is the ideal place to visit for garnering an understanding of the beginnings of Chinese architecture .

The Pavilion of Prince Teng (outside look)

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What to See and Expect when Visiting the Pavilion of Prince Teng

The Pavilion, as it is seen today stands at a height of approximately 188 feet while containing nine floors including the basement. It occupies a space of twelve acres as it sits atop a concrete platform that is 37 feet in height. As a side note, the structure originally consisted of only three stories while standing 88 feet. Upon arrival, visitors first notice a stainless steel tablet near that entrance that is engraved with the calligraphy of Mao Zedong, the revolutionary leader and founder of the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC). Mao was well known for having an attractive style of writing. Mao’s writing has historical significance as he was responsible for simplifying Mandarin Chinese characters from their traditionally more elaborate and difficult to create style. Every floor of Prince Teng’s Pavilion contains large main halls that are filled with historically significant artwork and relics.

Visitors entering the tower find themselves on the main floor, the second floor. Access to the basement is not permitted as it serves only as a storage area. Tourists, upon entering the tower are greeted with the enormous main hall whose walls are covered with various pieces of magnificent artwork including a large marble relief depicting the famous Tang era poet Wang Bo. According to legend, Wang Bo was granted a divine wind from a water god that allowed him to quickly arrive at Teng’s Pavilion where he wrote his most famous poem entitled “Preface to Teng Wang Pavilion”. This marble relief illustrates Wang’s meeting with the water god. Guests continuing up to the second floor are presented with a large mural depicting 80 famous personalities from both the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The main hall on the third floor serves as the Pavilion’s banquet hall which is decorated as it was during the Ming Dynasty. The tower’s fourth floor served as a meeting place for scribes and actors. Here, writers shared and compared their works while actors performed plays such as the famous “Peony Pavilion” that was first performed on this floor in 1598. The remaining five floors of the Pavilion get smaller as one goes up the structure. These higher floors all resemble each other as they are all replete with monuments, plagues, frescos, and other items that pay homage to famous scribes and thespians. As evidenced by its holdings, the Pavilion of Prince Teng was used heavily by the area’s literati for honing their talents as they gazed out over the Gan River. It should be noted that there are two other considerably smaller pavilions with one standing to the north of Teng’s Pavilion and the other one toward the south of the structure. These small pagodas are decorated with green roof tiles, attractive eaves, and engraved screens.

The area of Jiangxi Province where Teng’s Pavilion is found has been built with the tourist in mind in that the area has a wide choice of hotels, restaurants, and tour buses. As with many other historical buildings, visitors should be aware of its operating hours, seasons, and cost to visit. The Pavilion is open year round. However, from April to October the structure opens at 7am and closes at 8pm. Conversely, during the winter months from October to March, the tower is only open from 8am until 5:30pm. A reasonable admission fee of 50 Yuan grants access to everything housed within Teng’s Pavilion including a guided tour that offers headsets where guests can learn about the building in their native languages. This fee also includes entry into the two smaller pavilions which were historically used primarily as reading rooms. The admission fee is particularly affordable to tourists from the United States or the United Kingdom due to their currency’s exchange rate with the Chinese Yuan. As of March 2012 the Yuan is equivalent to only 15 American cents or nine British pennies.

Nanchang Tengwang Pavilion (The Pavilion of Prince Teng)

A Detailed History of the Pavilion’s Construction

Originally built as a wooden structure in 653, the Pavilion has been subjected to 29 rebuilds and general maintenance overhauls. In 675, 790, and 820 the building underwent maintenance work that helped sure up its stability. In 848, the structure was destroyed by a fire. It was shortly thereafter rebuilt to appear as it did in 820. The Pavilion remained in this state until 1108 when the two smaller structures were added to the area. The structure toward the north of Pavilion was named “Pulling Emerald-Green Pavilion”; the southern building was coined the “Pressing River Pavilion”. From 1108 until 1294 Teng’s Pavilion was damaged many times as a result from nearby wars and battles fought during the times of Song China. In 1294 the building was placed atop the now destroyed city walls in an effort to firm up its foundation. This construction was completed in 1336 after many delays due to civil unrest. In 1436 the tower began sinking into the river; successful construction work was quickly performed to save the iconic structure. The building was reconstructed two more times during the 15th century as a result of a fire and a structural collapse. Two rebuilds took place during the 16th century after it was destroyed during the Chen Hao Uprising in 1527 and a partial collapse in 1599. The building in the 17th century saw four devastating fires occurring in 1648, 1679, 1682, and 1685. The wooden structure suffered through two more fires in the 18th century during 1706 and 1731. Both of these fires, coupled with another collapse in 1788 all required the structure to undergo total rebuilds. During 19th century China the country suffered greatly under civil unrest, foreign invasion, and general disorder. Over this period, the tower was rebuilt four times. Restoring the structure during the 20th century was abruptly halted in 1935 when the Japanese invaded the city of Nanchang, brutally leaving thousands of deaths in their wake. Finally in 1989 restoration of the Pavilion was completed leaving us with the concrete based structure we see today. In 1991, the two smaller towers were fully restored to their original 11th century appearance

Tengwang Pavilion (performance)

Conclusion

The Pavilion of Prince Teng is an iconic symbol to the Chinese as it signifies an incredible sense of resiliency. It is a structure that is vitally important to the long heritage of Chinese literati and architectural history. The tower marks the beginning of Chinese styled pagodas; a style that has been used for over 1500 years. It is a must see for any visitors wishing to see early monumental buildings that helped shape Chinese culture in the southern region of the country. Western tourists will be surprised how affordable it is to see and visit the Pavilion of Prince Teng as well as all other tourist destinations found in Nanchang.

Pavilion of Prince Teng at Night

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    • shai77 profile image
      Author

      Chen 6 years ago

      Hello and thank you for reading. I'm not certain why the pictures weren't working for you but they seem to be fine now. I also enjoy exploring Hutongs. However, they are primarily associated with Beijing only. Yes, Honk Kong is an interesting place to be; it's sort of like the PRC's economic testing ground.

    • teacherjoe52 profile image

      teacherjoe52 6 years ago

      Very interesting, however the pictures don't show up.

      I love exploring Hutongs in every city I vist in China, that is where you will see the real history and culture of China.

      Hong Kong is really great and that is of the reasons I like going there.

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