Originally named as “Chunzai Tower”, Suzhou Dongshan Engraving Building (Chinese name: 东山雕花楼)is located at the west of Dongshan Town, 40 kilometers southwest to Suzhou City. The construction of the building started in 1922 and was finished three years later. This building was constructed by Jin Xizhi and Jin Zhizhi brothers for their mother. It was designed by a famous craftsman at that time named Chen Guifang and completed by more than 250 craftsmen. It imitated the architectural style of manors in the Ming Dynasty, reflecting the masterful traditional architectural workmanship in South China.
Dongshan Engraving Building is constructed in a polygonal courtyard building structure.
Carved floor courtyard is a polygonal. The whole building is mainly decorated with exquisite engravings, including gold, stone and brick and wood carvings. The yard in front of the building complex is quite beautiful, with trees-shaded lanes, pool, rockery, pavilions and bridges.
The main buildings here includes The Number One Scholar’s Residence, the Master’s Room, the Master’s Study, the Young Master’s Room, the Young Master’s Study, the Young Lady’s Room, the Secret Room for Treasures, the Secret Hiding Room,
Chunzai Tower is the main body of the whole building, where the distribution density of all kinds of carvings is among the highest in the world. All the beams, pillars, doors, railings and windows are all carved with the creatures or allusions. There are 178 Phoenixes carved in the main hall, it is also known as Phoenix Hall. The carved brick archway facing against Chunzai Tower is separated into three sections, the upper, the middle and the lower.
The Number One Scholar’s Residence was built for Shi Pan, who was born in Jinta Village of Dongshan Town, Suzhou. 1439, he become the first Number One Scholar after imperial examinations were held in Suzhou. Therefore, the local officials decided to set up a monument for him that included poems of praise.
The Master’s Room is a must see. It was previously used as the former owner’s bedroom. The furniture inside is exquisite and elegant. There is a removable wooden board on the ceiling of the room leading to the loft, which was accessible with a ladder and used by the owners as a hiding place for his treasure of antique, scripes, paintings and sliver coins.
The Young Master’s Room was the bedroom of the former owner’s children. The exquisite carvings on the redwood bed are regarded by the experts as representative work of the “Jiangnan Late Qing Dynasty Redwood Bed”. The brick drain in the south wall was used to carry water away from the room.
The Secret Treasure Floor is another highlight to see. It can be reached by very narrow stairs which are very hard to find as they lie behind a partition. This floor, with “The Secret Room for Treasures” on one end and “The Secret Hiding Room” on the other, was originally used to evade the bandits from Taihi Lake. On this floor now displays collections of the former owner’s treasures.
What’s more, Suzhou Dongshan Engraving Buildings is a very popular location among the circle of producers and directors for movies and television, due to the exquisite carving and beautiful and imposing layout of the old dwelling house. About 100 movies and TV plays have been set here. The building of the carving is thus also known as “Jiannan Movie and TV Building”.
How to Get to Dongshan Engraving Building in Suzhou
Take Bur Route 627 to Engraving Building Station(雕花楼宾馆站), and walk there. If you do not care about the money, you can call a taxi to take you there, which is more convenient and comfortable. It is suggested to spend about one hour to visit the building comlex.