Xuguo Stone Arch Travel Guide
Xuguo Stone Archway, also called "eight-columned archway" by the locals, is in the ancient mountain town Shexian County. The archway was built in the 12th year of Wanli Reign (1584) in the Ming Dynasty, in honor of Xuguo, vice-premier of the Ming government, the master teacher of the princes, Xuguo (1527-1596), born in Shexian County, successively assisted Ming´s three emperors: Jiaqing, Longqing and Wanli, and was highly favored by the emperors above. The archway was built just in his honor.
The structure, with eight pillars, is 11.4 meters high, 11.54 meters long, 6.77 meters wide. The whole building was composed of large pieces of stone, each of which weighs 4-5 tons. The most attracting part of the archway is her stone carvings, which show the unique technique of the local style. The whole structure is covered by different designs of carvings, such as couples of phoenixes, flying dragons and other beasts of prey. The pictures are vivid, and the carvings are elegant and exquisite, which present excellent workmanship.
Around the archway twelve stone lions in different mood are standing against the feet of the columns. On the upper part of each arch, the exquisite inscriptions were all written by the famous calligrapher Dong Qi Chang, one of Xuguo´s students at the time. Xuguo Stone Archway is a national historic and cultural relics enrolled in the state protection list.
Archway is known as "Paifang" or "Pailou" in Chinese. Paifang was a unique architectural form in ancient China. The building materials vary from wood to stone to glazed tile. It was usually erected at the entrance of a village, street or tomb. These grand and magnificent archways demonstrated the unique talents and distinguished skills possessed by ancient architects and construction workers.
Paifang is a unique architectural form and a reflection of traditional Chinese culture. Shexian was blessed with many archways, hence "the Town of Arches".