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Heritage Trail project

Heritage Trail: Dongmianhua Hutong 东棉花胡同

Dongmianhua Hutong

Dongmianhua Hutong runs east to west, connecting South Jiaodaokou Street with NanluoGuxiang. To its south lies Banchang Hutong and to its north there is a branch hutong that leads to Beibingmasi Hutong. It is 448 meters long and six meters wide. The street numbers on the north range from 3 to 39 without 1 and 37, whereas to the south are numbers 2 to 40 without 4, 6, 10, 12, and 14. During the Ming Dynasty, Dongmianhua Hutong used to be called Mianhua (meaning “cotton”) Hutong and belonged to the Zhaohui Jingong administrative area (fang). After the arrival of the Qing, the area fell under the jurisdiction of the Bordered Yellow Banner, but still kept its name. According to legend, the area takes its name from a cotton market that once made its home here. In 1979, in order to differentiate it from a similarly named hutong in Xicheng District, the word “dong” (east) was added. Today, Dongmianhua Hutong is home to the Central Academy of Drama, the Jiaodaokou branch of the Dongcheng City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau, and the Jiaodakou sub-district social security office.

According to a Qianlong-Era map, Dongmianhua – like Beibingmasi – also held a temple to the god of the earth (tu di miao). Athough no longer visible today, it was located at the alley’s west end.

Dongmianhua Hutong

Cultural Heritage Protection Sites:

Brick Arch Gate with carved patterns, 15 Dongmianhua Hutong

The brick arch gate is located at 15 Dongmianhua Hutong. This quadrangle originally belonged to a man named Feng Shan, a general in Jilin during the late Qing Dynasty. (His descendents have since changed their last name to Liu). He was not only extremely wealthy, but also very close to Empress Dowager Cixi. His mansion was therefore quite huge, taking up almost the entire east half of Dongmianhua Hutong. During the early Republican Era, following Feng Shan’s death and a decline in fortunes, his family had to sell of part of the mansion. In the years since, the original main gate of the mansion was demolished, replaced with the replica seen today. The original outer Chuihua Gate was remodeled into a room, with the brick arch gate acting as its inner gate. The arch gate itself has a height of four meters and width of two meters. The bricks have been carved with flowers and animals, and on top of the gate there are banisters made from rock, carved with pine, bamboo and plum designs. In Chinese, these are known collectively as sui han san you, or “the three friends in cold weather,” as they all thrive during the winter. Both sides of the arch gate are carved with treasure shelves (bao ge) and the Covert Eight Immortals (an ba xian), and the surrounding bricks have been laid out quite meticulously. Such a carving technique is now very rarely seen today, and should be noted for how it places the gate in harmony with the surrounding structures constructed later during the Republican Era. Inside the gate is the courtyard, behind which is yet another courtyard, all of which once functioned as a dormitory of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Today, the arch gate exists as a district-level heritage protection site, gaining preservation status in 1986.

Important institution: The Central Academy of Drama, 39 Dongmianhua Hutong

The Central Academy of Drama is located at 39 Dongmianhua Hutong, formerly the mansion of Jin Yunpeng, prime minister of the Beiyang government of the Republic of China. In October 1949, the Government Administration Council of the Central People’s Government decided to establish the first college in China dedicated to cultivating experts in the fields of drama, film, and art.

Under the direct control of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, the Central Academy of Drama is China’s leading educational institution in the field of drama, the headquarters of the Asia Theater Education Centre, as well as the location of the Global Alliance of Theater Schools International Theater Festival.

The history of the Central Academy of Drama dates back more than 70 years to the establishment of the Yan’an Luxun Art Academy on April 10, 1938. It officially opened its doors in December 1949, and during the dedication ceremony on April 2, 1950, Chairman Mao personally wrote the school’s name in calligraphy. This calligraphy now serves as the school’s official logo and script. In the years since its opening, many famous playwrights, directors, actors, and theatre teachers have graduated from the Academy.

Dongmianhua Hutong

Works Cited:

Beijing Shi Wenwu Shiye Guanliju bian, Beijing mingshengguji cidian

Zhong Jianwei, Beijingshi Dongcheng qu diming zhi

Back to Nanluoguxiang area

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