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This year we’re lucky enough randomly selected in the “Cultural Guided Tour” organised by the Museum of Macau. The entire historic site tour last for three and a half hours, in which on site itineraries included the return of the Mandarin House. Unexpectedly would like to revisit again the ever every corner and detail of this heritage place.

The Mandarin House has a history of nearly 150 years. It is not just one of the must-visit attractions for tourists in Macau; the epidemic situations caused a significant declined visitor’s flow, thus should grab the best times explore around the quietest moments in person. They’re not only one of the selected UNESCO World Heritage Historical buildings; it also turned out to be one of the most precious cultural heritage of every Macau citizen that should worth a good visit.

Architectural Introduction

The Mandarin House, also known as in Portuguese: Casa do Mandarim, was the former residence of the Chinese modern thinker Zheng Guanying during Macau-Portuguese governing period. It is a Lingnan-style house, along with the Lou Family House similar architectural designs. The Zheng’s House is located in the left alleyways, Travessa de Antonio da Silvia, Macau, facing the front side of Lilau Square. Its architectural designs integrates Chinese and Western characteristics, mainly composed of two courtyard-style buildings. The main building complex composes of two main houses; Yu-Qing-Tang and Ji-Shan-Tang, the study and Wen-Chang hall, the inner courtyard, the front courtyard and the Main garden.

Its scale has a total area of ​​4,000 square meters, mainly gray and white walls. Chinese and Western architectural styles well combined, with a unique extended circular window wall; the style is Lingnan residential, mainly in Chinese style. There are Chinese red doors and window fram and floral pattern windows. The western styles incorporated into the detailed structures along the doorways, windows and ceilings.

Big house architectural pattern

The main building materials of the big house are more traditional blue bricks. The roof plane is also a Chinese-style roof; and the building height varies depending on the nature and purpose of the house. The servant’s room is generally a one-story hard mountain building, and some houses also have a flat roof. The main building is mostly two-storey, and there are also three-storey buildings in the middle. The main entrance of the building is located in the left lane of Longtou in the northeast. It is a two-storey house.

The gate entrances and the mansion entrances of different housing areas of the main building complex are all facing northwest; and they are all in the same straight line. There is a wide and long drying yard in front; and there is another doorkeeper in the middle of the drying yard; having the main and secondary buildings inseparated. The first half is the servant’s room and the outer garden; the back is the main room, and the two rooms connected by a large inner courtyard. The main building area mainly composed of two courtyard-style buildings. The buildings three-in-depth and three-bay style, connected by water lanes.

With the exception of the courtyard outside the big house; since the design route of the big house belongs to the “Lingnan three-in-one courtyard style”; There are also small courtyards in the middle part of each block.

Mansion interior designs

The “door-in-door” feature of most large houses has opened up the visual space of doors and windows fiercely. Seeing the fine carving, immediately remembered the luxurious scenery in the old times. It also recorded that all door frames along the hallway all painted with golden gold leaf back in the old times; which reflected the wealth of the Zheng family and the requirements building such big scale house.

Details of wealth and achievements

The architecture reflects the elements of the great wealth and achievements from the mansion owner. Close to the entrance is the “door gateway”. The exterior walls painted with grey plastic embossments and auspicious patterns as the theme; Among them, “Lively Carp Dragon Gate” and “Flowers Blooming in Prosperity” referred to success and wealth. On the hypotenuse of the entrance is a pair of “moon gates”. And behind the door is a long corridor, used by visitors to get off the chinese sedan chairs. On the left side of the corridor were two main houses side by side, engraved with exquisite carved doors and western-style window ridges left behind. And the walls under the eaves decorated with colorful paintings.

In addition, a low profile doorman stayed at the entrance discovered by the commissioner. The doorman painted with a total of 17 layers of colors; reflecting that the owner had renovated it many times because of his respect for traditional customs.

The Stately Hall Yu Qingtang

After repairs, Yu Qingtang has unique Lingnan characteristics and paints the overall style of the Zheng family house. The hall, Yu Qingtang, is located in the first main house. Inside, there are “Poetic pillars” and “Family injunctions”; as well as wooden window frames decorated with “Sun and Moon Sea Shells.” The sun and moon shells all polished into a hexagonal shape, which means “longevity”.

The Yu Qingtang hall used beam frames, painted paintings, and clay street bricks and other architectural techniques. According to the information, beam frames and clay street bricks all rare methods presented from Macau to Guangdong; and its scenery can be clearly seen.

The double-opening wooden windows at the patio on the second floor all carved with exquisite patterns. After visiting all the rooms and corridors returned to the first floor, reached till the end in front of the low-rise building. Behind was the resident’s main, a staircase leading to the seaside. At that time, the Zheng family owned a private wharf to do business, which shows how wealthy they were.

Buildings corrupted and renewed

Zheng Guanying has a large family, six sons, and six wives. Most of their descendants moved to China or other overseas places. Later, the descendants of the Zheng family kept the second floor of the mansion for self-occupation; The first floor and the garden rented out at par. During prime times, more than 300 people living, commonly known as 72 tenants; All go for its own life in own particular occupation, within a concentrated place for businesses. Lasts for a specific period of time, the identities of the Zheng’s residents living in the same house differ, like a miniature of a small Macau society; From there, various cultural exchanges developed, forming a unique “72 houses” scenery.

About 20 years ago, the Macau government took over the big house and started to deal with the arduous restoration projects. Due to the subletting and reconstruction of buildings; 70% or more of the said places totally damaged, and even the roofs went disappeared completely. The water leakage is serious, the lime has fallen off; and the old appearance seen apparently; almost completely submerged by the signs of damage.

The government deliberately hired experienced cultural relics restoration specialists from other cities in China to participate in related projects; and verbally collected meticulous memories of mansion construction from older residents. After eight years of engineering and research, all completed in 2009. The house is now open to the public to visit. When it opened that year, the descendants of the Zheng family all invited to be the first visitors.

Zheng Family History Review

The Zheng Family House was the former residence of Zheng Guanying (1842-1921); a famous thinker, industrialist, and philanthropist in modern China. The immortal work “Prosperity Warnings” compiled by Zheng; in this house has influenced the emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty, Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong, etc. It has had an important impact on promoting the reform of modern China. The house built by his father Zheng Wenrui, and its construction dates back to 1869. The building is a courtyard-style mansion, which is the only “Doctor of Rong Lu” in Macau.

All precious resources and materials all kept in the current Mandarim house museums, please do revisit them if interested.

Angela Fung