Skip to main content

Chen Yueji Residence - Taipei Qing Dynasty Historic Site

The Chen Yueji Residence (陳悅記大厝, also called 陳悅記祖宅), commonly referred to as "Teacher's Mansion" (老師府), is one of Taipei's lesser known treasures. It is located on Yanping North Road, in Taipei City's Datong District. It is one of the few remaining residences built during the Qing Dynasty era. The residence is close to other major tourist attractions, such as the Confucius Temple. It can be reached on foot from Yuanshan MRT station



During the Qing Dynasty, the Chen Yueji Residence was part of Dadaocheng, which at that time was a city of its own. When the Japanese occupied Taiwan in 1895, they set about building a modern colonial capital. They tore down Taipei city walls as well as nearly all buildings constructed in Taipei walled city under the Qing. The only Chinese buildings that they did not destroy were four out of five city gates and a part of Taiwan provincial administration hall. On the ruins of Qing Taipei they created the government and business district of Jonai; an entirely modern, Western-inspired district where nothing Chinese was left that could awaken the Taiwanese people's nostalgia for their past. That part of the city still maintains its Japanese colonial structure. 

In the 1920s Jonai, Dadaocheng and Mengjia were united to form Taipei City. Dadaocheng and Mengjia were the more traditional and "Chinese" districts, where mostly native Taiwanese lived. That's why up to this day several Qing era buildings, especially temples, survive in these two areas, giving them a characteristically "Chinese" flair. 

The Chen Yueji Residence began to be built in the early 19th century by members of the Chen clan (陳氏) in the traditional style of a Chinese courtyard house. The Taiwanese branch of the family was established by Chen Wenlan (陳文瀾), a doctor who came to Taiwan from mainland China during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (乾隆; reigned from 1735 to 1796). Chen Wenlan's eldest son, Chen Xunjing (陳遜經), set up a store that sold ship components, since trade between mainland China and Taiwan prospered at the time. The store was called 'Chen Yueji' (陳悅記).



The first part of the residence was constructed by Chen Xunyan (陳遜言) in 1807. The architecture reflects that of Quanzhou prefecture in China's Fujian Province, which was the ancestral home of the Chen clan. As the family prospered, its members increased, and so in 1832 a new right wing was built.

Chen Xunyan had two prominent sons: Chen Weiying (陳維英), born in 1811, and Chen Weizao (陳維藻), who were both imperial scholar-officials. Chen Weiying passed several imperial examinations and became a distinguished member of the Chinese imperial gentry. He worked as a teacher in the Mingzhi academy of classical learning (明志書院) and was elected head of the Mengjia Xuehai academy of classical learning (學海書院). He also founded the Kavalan Yangshan academy (仰山書院). During the anti-Qing insurrection of Dai Chaochun in 1862, Chen Weiying organised a local militia at his own expense to help the Qing government put down the rebellion. 

I don't know who these two men are; could they be Weiying and Weizao?

Because of his role as a social benefactor and an intellectual, people respectfully called him "teacher", and that's why the Chen Yueji Residence became known as "The Teacher's Mansion". Up to this day, members of the Chen family live in the residence. 

The Chen Yueji Residence is a unique and fascinating example of Qing Dynasty architecture on Taiwan, reflecting the civilisation that existed on the island prior to the Japanese colonial period. It is a rare and precious historic site in the middle of Datong's busy streets, squatter settlements and modern buildings. 










Additional source:

趙莒玲: 台北古街漫遊. Taipei 1999, pp. 96-97


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Living in Taiwan: Seven Reasons Why It's Good to Be Here

Chinese New Year can be a pretty boring time for a foreigner. All of my friends were celebrating with their families, and since I have no family here, nor have I a girlfriend whose family I could join, I had nothing special to do. Shops and cafes were closed - apart from big chains like McDonald's or Starbucks, which were overcrowded anyway. So I had a lot of time to think.
On Saturday evening I went out to buy my dinner. While I was walking around, I heard the voices of the people inside their homes, the sounds of their New Year celebrations. Then I suddenly asked myself: "What on earth are you doing here? Why are you still in Taiwan?" 
Before I came to Taiwan, some Taiwanese friends of mine had recommended me their country, highly prasing it and going so far as to say that Taiwan is a "paradise for foreigners" (bear in mind that when I say foreigners I mean 'Westerners'). 
"It's easy for foreigners to find a job," they argued. "Taiwane…

How Conservative Is Taiwan? - 5 Cases of Sexuality in Business, Marketing and Media

Is Taiwan a conservative society? Are Taiwanese people prude, family-oriented, and faithful to their partner?
Before going to Taiwan, basing my opinion on what Taiwanese had told me, I would have answered all these questions with yes. But after living there for some time, I began questioning my assumptions. 
In many of my posts I have tried to explain some features of the Chinese/Taiwanese family which make it clear that every Western perspective on East Asia should take into consideration the different values and social structures that the Chinese-speaking world has developed over the centuries.
In this post, I would just like to mention a few interesting cases of liberal sexual conduct and the objectification of the female body, which challenge the image of Taiwan as a prude society. 
One day I was walking around the German city of Potsdam, near Berlin, with a Taiwanese. She often told me that Taiwanese people were conservative, Taiwanese girls naive and innocent. But on the other hand,…

How Is Customer Service In Taiwan? - My Thoughts Before And After Living In Taiwan

Before I went to Taiwan I had a lot of expectations regarding customer service there, mainly for two reasons.
First of all, I hated customer service in Europe. Having lived in Italy and Germany for several years and having spent time in Greece, the UK and other European countries, I noticed that across the continent a lot of shop assistants are indifferent or rude to customers. Of course, that is based on my experience and on that of my friends, and it refers only to episodes I witnessed or heard about. 
Let me tell you just a few examples. Once my internet provider in Germany changed my contract without my consent. When I went to their shop, I was yelled at and threatened with a lawsuit right away. Later I quit that company, but the point is, whether I made a mistake or not (and I think I did not), they should have cleared up the matter in a nice way instead of being so aggressive. 
One day I was in my university cafeteria, and I saw a student leave his trey with food on a table and go …