Zhouzhuang Part II–Mansion Walks

One of the main tourist attractions in this town is the Shen Mansion.

There is the watergate and the wharf, where Shen’s family moored boats and washed clothes.DSCN9234

Grand livingroom. The original owner of the House, Shen Wanshan was a 16th century businessman who eventually became the wealthiest local in history.  He was also a friend of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty before both men became accomplished.

Side halls where servants walk, contain murals illustrating tales of his life

Granit polished like an ink painting. The round ones representing men, squarely ones representing women.


Photo taken when Armand Hammer, Chairman of the Occidental Petroleum Corporation in the United States, presented a painting from a Zhouzhuang artist, Chen Yifei, as a gift for the Chinese President at the time, Deng Xiaoping


Mid-courtyard separating the front of the house to back of the house, where guests do not have any access.


Livingroom where women of the house gathered.  This is the furtherest they can go. They do not usually cross the mid courtyard to get to the front of the house.


Couch where they can take a rest, or smoke marijuana in later periods.

Bronze sculpture of the man himself.


Pork feet, the most famous local delicacy, is named after the richest man ever in town. Legend goes after his friend Zhu Yuanzhang became the emperor of China, Zhu was quite jealous of Shen’s wealth.  There was a rule at the time that all pig related topics should be eliminated, because their pronounciation coincides with the emperor’s last name. When emperor visited Shen’s mansion, he saw the pig feet being served, so he tried to nail Wansan by asking him what was it.  Wansan was very careful in crafting his words, so that his pronounciation coincides with the dialect of “way up”, a word of auspiciousness. Since then, all local pig feet named after him.

Lady’s window: Second floor of the great livingroom has a lady’s window. That window used to have only a small opening, where one can see everything from upstairs while the guests cannot see anything.  So that unmarried ladies in the house can take a peek at male guests for their potential soul mates.

Second floor was where all members of the family lived, it contained a few original furnishing.

You have to pay for upstair exhibition.


The son’s room in the family.

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Daughter’s servant girl room. You can see the simplicity of her room.

Upper hallway built around the courtyards.


Master bedroom complete with a sculptured canopy bed


On one side of the bed, there is a wash basin.

On the other side there is a toilet.

The lady’s window where young, unmarried ladies can take a look and pick their potential husbands.

Looking down to the livingroom from the lady’s window.




Walking straight into a money hole.


Next up, Zhang Mansion

At the entrance, a sedan chair display, easy in and out of your house.


Grand livingroom

Lady’s livingroom, notice that the chairs on this side do not have a real back. These are for unmarried ladies, because they are considered “unbacked” ladies.

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In the middle there was a calligraphy describing the surrounding: the boats and bridges crossing one another.


Granite polished to look like an ink painting.


The back courtyard.


On the bridge on the other side of the pond.

A professional calligrapher at work.

Chinese character for horse, made to look like a horse.

He wrote a little poem for me.

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Where the first characters of the first three lines formed my name.



Family theatre. Where the characters on both sides describing how life resembles a play, don’t take it too seriously.

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School, teacher’s desk in the front.




Office, or writing room.