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Merchant Culture and the Chinese Mansion

China, an East Asian country is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. It has a vast cultural history of more than five thousand years and an outstanding natural beauty. On the other hand, this country has remained a comparatively isolated and secluded one, and being a land of mystery, this country is not known to the western half of the world. However, China is rapidly developing and has grown in the phase of modernization, with an immense speed and is also welcoming the outer world to interact and do business with them.
China is a country with a continuous 5000 year old civilization blessed with a number of historic houses as well as its fine heritage of imperial, religious and civic buildings. While the palaces, temples, pagodas and walled cities with their bell and drum towers are well publicized, there is also a wealth of ancient villages and noteworthy houses built long ago by wealthy merchants and business men. Typical of these are the houses to be found in Shanxi Province, which are representative of the wealth attained by the Shanxi Merchants.
Shanxi Province occupies the mountainous region between the central plain and the northern desert. The routes through it provided the means whereby the Han Chinese of the central plains could communicate with the desert tribes living beyond the border. Trading links, dating from the first century BC, flourished during the Sui and Tang Dynasties. The strong family loyalties of those living in Shanxi coupled with the ethics of diligence, thrift, and teamwork brought about a thriving merchant culture that endured for some 500 years, until the late Ming period. True to their roots, these merchants would bring their wealth back to the places where their families had long been settled and they built fine, extensive mansions.
Today, there are still some 1,300 sites where such houses can be found. Surrounded by walls that enclose a compound, the individual buildings within are set around quadrangles. They are usually two storeys in height and constructed from brick and timber. Among the best preserved of these compounds in the centre of Shanxi are Qiao's Compound, Cao's Compound and Wang's Compound.
China is a popular travel destination for visitors and globe trotters from all over the world who appreciate its beautiful landscapes, rich culture, delicious local cuisine, hospitality and safety. Quality is China's top priority.

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