Pavilion of Prince Teng

The Pavilion of Prince Teng is located by the Gan River in Nanchang City of China’s Jiangxi Province. It has first built in China’s Tang Dynasty. For thousands of years, it has been a sacred place where men of letters in all ages went and created “Fu (poetic exposition)”. With the Yueyang Tower and the Yellow Crane Tower, they are known as the three famous buildings in south China.

Origin

The pavilion was originally built as a place where a dejected prince indulged himself.

Prince Teng, Li Yuanying, was a brother of Emperor Li Shimin of Tang. As he was once enfeoffed the Prince of Tengzhou, so he was called Prince Teng. According to records, Li Yuanying was an idle prince who loved poems and wine, only knew the play and never wanted to contribute to his country. He indulged himself in singing and dancing and was also accomplished at calligraphy and painting. The butterflies are drawn by him, in particular, were known as Teng School butterfly paintings.

When Emperor Li Shimin of Tang, was reigning, he indulged his younger brother much. Yet, the Next Emperor, Emperor Li Zhi of Tang, found it hard to bear what his uncle (Li Yuanying) did and demoted him again and again.

Finally, in AD 653, Emperor Li Zhi of Tang, issued a royal edict to have Prince Teng, Li Yuanying, demoted from Regional Inspector of Suzhou to Military Governor of Hongzhou. (Hongzhou is the present-day Nanchang City in China’s Jiangxi Province. )

After the dejected Li Yuanying came to Hongzhou, he still spends the day indulging himself in singing and dancing. One day, he came to a small hill on the east bank of the Gan River outside Hongzhou. Looking far into the distance, he was some white ships on the surging Gan River. Birds were shuttling and singing amid the mountains. Butterflies were wandering among the flowers. In such a pleasant landscape. Li Yuanying hit upon an idea. A tall building could be built here for him to entertain his guests, who would enjoy both the beauty of the mountains and singing and dancing performances. How wonderful it would be!

Thus, Prince Teng, Li Yuanying gave the order. Before long, a magnificent tall building stood erect by the Gan River, by then Li Yuanying named this building as the Pavilion of Prince Teng. Back then, the Pavilion of Prince Teng was only over ten meters tall, and it wasn’t larger either. But as it was built on a hill by the river outside the city. It looked extremely magnificent.

Story of Well-Known

After the Pavilion of Prince Teng was built, Li Yuanying held feasts and entertained his guests here. Hearing about it, Emperor Li Zhi of Tang, got very angry. He issued another edict to have Li Yuanying demoted to Longzhou, which is today’s Langzhong in Sichuan Province. The newly-built Pavilion of Prince Teng was ordered to be pulled down. As Prince Teng, Li Yuanying has demoted again, the Pavilion of Prince Teng was pulled down. But the magnificent view of the Pavilion of Prince Teng was remembered by people. Thus before long, people rebuilt the high pavilion.

Little did they know that at the banquet celebrating the rebuilding of the Pavilion of Prince Teng, a young man would write a preface that made the pavilion well-known in the world and a sacred place where men of letters of all ages went and enjoyed drinking.

In AD 675, namely, the 26th year of the reign of Emperor Gaozong of Tang, in Hongzhou south of the Yangtze River, namely today’s Nanchang City in China Jiangxi Province, a banquet was held at the Pavilion of Prince Teng by Yan Boyu, the Military Governor of Hongzhou, to entertain his guests.

After having the Pavilion of Prince Teng renovated. Yan Boyu invited local well-informed scholars to feast here and to write a preface to the Pavilion of Prince Teng so as to immortalize it. After singing and dancing performances. Yan Boyu rose to invite his guests to compose preface, but they all declined. Because they know Yan Boyu want to his own son-in-law write the preface, so as to manifest his literary talent.

Wang Bo
Wang Bo

Back then, a young man named Wang Bo, he was traveling south to visit his father. He traveled down the Gan River by boat and came to the Pavilion of Prince Teng. He happened to encounter the grand banquet thrown by Yang Boyu to celebrate the renovation of the Pavilion of Prince Teng. Seeing Yan Boyu invite warmly his guests to compose a preface, the young and impetuous Wang Bo didn’t decline at all. He sat down in the central hall, took up a writing brush and started to write smoothly.  “With alacrity, Wang Bo grabbed a writing brush and finished the preface without revision at all. Everyone was amazed. ” That’s to say, in front of everyone, Wang Bo finished the entire “ Preface to the Pavilion of Prince Teng” without a pause. It amazed all the other guests.

Preface to the Pavilion of Prince Teng
Preface to the Pavilion of Prince Teng

From a big picture perspective, the preface depicts the location of the Pavilion of Prince Teng and then the resplendence and magnificence of the building itself. The presence of many eminent guests and good friends inside the pavilion added extra charm to the Pavilion of Prince Teng.

The unhappy Yan Boyu, he ordered his men to read to him the preface written by Wang Bo line by line.Hearing the line “The sunset is flying together with a lonely wild goose, and the autumn water connects the sky at the horizon forming a unity. ” 落霞与孤鹜齐飞,秋水共长天一色. he couldn’t help sighing: “What a genius! This preface shall endure forever.”

Pavilion of Prince Teng
落霞与孤鹜齐飞,秋水共长天一色

The young and talented Wang Bo didn’t know the preface written by him would make the Pavilion of Prince Teng known by the world. Thereafter, when men of letters of all ages climbed up the pavilion, they all thought of Wang Bo. Here, they drank composed poems and Fu, and enjoyed in retrospect the fine view the pavilion commanded as depicted in the lines “The sunset is flying together with a lonely wild goose, and the autumn water connects the sky at the horizon forming a unity. ” 落霞与孤鹜齐飞,秋水共长天一色.

The preface was written to the pavilion, and the pavilion was thus known because of the preface. The fine view and grand banquet on the Pavilion of Prince Teng enabled Wang Bo to compose the everlasting preface. It was this magnificent preface that pioneered the immobilization of the Pavilion of Prince Teng in a poetic prose. It also made the name of the pavilion a cultural symbol.

Historical Characteristics

For thousands of years, despite damages caused by natural disaster and wars, its cultural connotation enabled the Pavilion of Prince Teng to be rebuilt again and again. Since its completion, the Pavilion of Prince Teng underwent 5 ravages and reconstructions during the Tang Dynasty. Up to today, during the 1300 years, ever since it was first built, it has been rebuilt for 29 times.

  1. During the reign of Song Dynasty, about in AD 1108. Fan Tan, Prefect of Hongzhou, rebuilt the Pavilion of Prince Teng. In “Rebuilding of the Pavilion of Prince Teng ”there was such a record. “The Pavilion of Prince Teng is 38 chi high and 40 chi wide. It towers the majestic Gan River in the south and surpasses the green Xishan Mountain in the north.” The Pavilion of Prince Teng towers over the Gan River. Thus it is imposing against the river. Also, it enjoys an uninterrupted view of the Xishan Mountain with verdure in the north.One can see from the painting that, featuring green-glazed tiles, red-painted pillars, carved handrails and doors, multiple arches and soaring eaves, the Pavilion of Prince Teng was more than resplendent. The Pavilion of Prince Teng in the Song Dynasty was the most magnificent.
  2. In China’s Yuan Dynasty, the Pavilion of Prince Teng was badly ruined by wars. In the second year during Emperor Huizong of Yuan’s reign, namely in AD 1334, the chief imperial censor for Jiangnan Circuit climbed the Pavilion of Prince Ten. Feeling the leaving the pavilion unattended to was a waste of the fantastic view, so he ordered to have the Pavilion of Prince Teng renovated. “The Pavilion of Prince Teng” kept in Shanghai Museum is a depiction of the Pavilion. In the picture, below the towering Pavilion of Prince Teng, fishing boats came and went on the vast river. All buildings were scattered randomly. Men of letters gathered here. It reminds people of the spectacular view the pavilion commanded back then.

The Pavilion of Prince Teng
The Pavilion of Prince Teng - Yuan Dynasty

  1. In the Ming Dynasty, the gate of the pavilion was moved to the front. Buildings scattered randomly were connected by corridors. Its architecture was typical of buildings in the south of the Yangtze River. In the Ming Dynasty, there was only a blues tone horizontal board left, with its name inscribed on it. The horizontal board is now kept in Nanchang Museum in Jiangxi Province.
  2. When it came to the Qing Dynasty, the side of the pavilion was much smaller than before. Its main building was mostly built with Dutch gable roofs with multiple eaves. The two-storied pavilion was surrounded by accessory buildings such as shops and pavilions, thus forming a courtyard complex centering the main pavilion.
  3. Today, the new Pavilion of Prince Teng standing erect by the Gan River was designed by famous Chinese architect Liang Sicheng, according to the painting “The Pavilion of Prince Teng ”from the Sony Dynasty. These eight drafts were drawn by Liang Sicheng. Based on these drafts, the new Pavilion of Prince Teng was completed at the Double Ninth Festival in 1989. It is not only magnificent, but it is also exquisitely decorated. It high wall-shaped base and its seven-tier eaves soaring aloft make it look towering and straight. The three corridors winding around the pavilion and the ridges made of glazed titles as green as jade make the entire pavilion elegant and graceful.

Pavilion of Prince Teng
Pavilion of Prince Teng - Today

The End

The Pavilion of Prince Teng was a hall of culture, a hall of singing and dancing. Besides, it was high class. It was the only royal building in the south of the Yangtze River. It was built with glazed tiles and it was matchless in the Tang Dynasty.

When the sun sets, the colorful clouds reflect themselves in the Gan River. The moment depicted by Wang Bo in the lines “The sunset is flying together with a lonely wild goose, and the autumn water connects the sky at the horizon forming a unity. ” 落霞与孤鹜齐飞,秋水共长天一色. seems to be recreated.

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