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Yu’er Hutong 雨儿胡同

Suzhou-style paintings and couplets 对联 adorn the gate of 10 Yu'er Hutong

Suzhou-style paintings and couplets 对联 adorn the gate of 10 Yu'er Hutong


Stretching from east to west, Yu’er Hutong is about 343 meters long and 5 meters wide. It starts from Nanluoguxiang in the east, and ends at Dongbuyaqiao Hutong in the west. Suoyi Hutong is to the south and Yu’er is linked with Mao’er Hutong in the north. Addresses number 1 to No.45 and No.2 to No.34 on either side of the road. It was originally called “Yulong Hutong” in the Ming Dynasty, while part of the administrative district of the Zhaohui Jingzhong Fang. The present name “Yu’er Hutong” has been used since the Qing Dynasty, when it was under the administration of the Bordered Yellow Banner. This name was adopted by the government of the Republic of China. After the founding of the PRC, the name was changed several times, until 1979 when “Yu’er Hutong” was adopted once again.  Currently, the Jiaodaokou District Office of Dongcheng District and other such offices are located in this hutong.

According to the historical documents of Xiaoting Xu Lu, the house of Gongyebushu was located in Yu’er Hutong. (Fuguo Yebushu was the fourth prince of the Qingtaizong Emperor. He was given the title of Fuguogong in the eighth year of the Kangxi Emperor.)

The Former Residence of Qi Baishi: (No.13,Yu’er Hutong)

No.13 of Yu’er Hutong, together with No.11 and No.15, used to be the house of Dong Shuping, the president of Beihai Park, during the time of the Republic of China. His residence was called “The Dong Family Courtyard”. Later on, the land of the house was divided into several plots. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China the Ministry of Art and Culture bought the land containing No.13, and gave it to Qi Baishi (see below). However, Qi Baishi missed his old home in Xicheng District, and he soon moved back to Xicheng after living in Yu’er Hutong for a short period of time. No.13 was then made into a museum celebrating Qi Baishi. Eventually it was acquired by the Beijing Fine Art Academy. Now it houses the Editorial Department of Chinese Painting, a publication of the Beijing Fine Art Academy, and the official meeting place of the Chinese Artist Association. The residence is a registered cultural heritage site in Dongcheng District.

13 Yu'er (Qi Baishi)

13 Yu'er (Qi Baishi's Old Residence)

Qi Baishi

Qi Baishi (1864-1957), from Xiangtan in Hunan Province, nicknamed A Zhi but also called Huang, courtesy name (zi) Wei Qing, also known by the pseudonyms (hao) Lanqing and Binsheng, and Baishishanren (Man of the White Stone Mountain). Qi Baishi was an influential Chinese painter and calligraphic stone engraver. Over the course of his life, he served as a professor at the Beijing National Art School, an honorary professor at the Chinese Art Academy, the honorary president of the Beijing Fine Art Academy, and the president of Beijing Chinese Painting Association. In 1953, he was awarded the title of “People’s Artists” by the Ministry of Culture. In 1956, he won an annual international peace prize by the World Peace Council. In 1963, he was elected as one of the world’s cultural celebrities by World Peace Council.

Being a carpenter in his early years, Qi did not learn to paint until he was 27, when he began studying poetry, literature, painting and engraving with a local writer.  He left his hometown to travel around China.  After leaving and returning to his hometown five times, he was deeply inspired by the diverse scenery of provinces such as Shanxi, Shandong, Beijing, Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangxi, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Guangxi and Guangdong. He began to sell paintings and seal cravings after settling down in Beijing in 1957.  His painting style changed after his sixties. Under the strong influence of Xu Wei, Zhu Da, Shi Tao, Wu Changshuo and other artists, he slowly developed his own unique style of distinct red flowers accompanied by ink leaves.

Throughout his diligent and prolific life, Qi Baishi left a considerable amount of artistic treasures: more than 30,000 paintings, more than 3,000 poems and many other manuscripts. His masterpieces include The 12-page-book of Flower and Grasshopper Paintings, and The Engraving and Paintings of Baishi..

Architecture of Qi Baishi’s Old Residence

The structures of the former residence, including a renovated gate, are not very old. The three major rooms in the north all have their own small rooms attached. The window on the south wall of the major rooms are glass, making the room very bright during the day. On the walls that divide the rooms hang scrolls with couplets of Nu’an, whose real name was Lu Qianyuan, a calligrapher from the Qing Dynasty. The three side rooms on the east and west sides feature Yingshan-style roofs. A brick door in the west yard is inscribed with the lines, “A purple wind of fortune coming from the east” surrounded by sculpted flowers. This door is now blocked.

The Former Residence of Luo Ronghuan 罗荣桓故居 (No.31 of Yu’er Hutong)

Although General Luo Ronghuan passed away in Dec.1963, his wife Lin Yueqin and other relatives still live here.

Luo Ronghuan (1902-1963), was born in Hengshan County of Hunan Province. He was a military strategist and one of the founders and leaders of the People’s Liberation Army. He joined the Chinese Communist Youth League in April 1927 and the Chinese Communist Party later that year. During the Long March he served as the security chief for the Red Army. During the Anti-Japanese War, Luo served as the political commissar of the corps in Shandong.  After World War II, Luo served as the political commissar of Lin Biao in Manchuria during the Chinese Civil War, and assisted Lin Biao during the battles of Pingjing and Liaoshen. After the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 he became Chief of Staff of the People’s Liberation Army. In 1953 he proposed a government-funded Academy of Politics. He was made a marshal in 1955. Luo was the member of the 7th CPC Central Committee and 8th CPC Politburo. He died in Beijing on Dec. 16th, 1963 when he was 61.

The Former Residence of Su Yu 粟裕故居

Su Yu and his wife, Chu Qing, have lived in this siheyuan ever since they settled in Beijing in the 1950s. Back then, most of the commanders and generals’ families who lived in the siheyuan usually shared one siheyuan with two families.  General Su Yu and his family shared one siheyuan with Marshal Luo Ronghuan and his family, hence the siheyuan is separated into two parts. The Luos lived in the front court yard, which is the present No.31, and the Sus lived in the backyard, i.e. the present No.33. The corridor which linked the two yards had been made into three bedrooms and a rectangular living room; those three bedrooms were for the three children of the family, the room at the right end of the corridor was used as Su Yu and his wife’s bedroom.

Zhinian Qi Yamen (Office of the Eight Banners) 值年旗衙门

Military uniform of the eight Manchu banners

Military uniforms of the eight Manchu banners

According to the book Rixia jiuwen kao (A Survey of Old Tales Nowadays) the Yamen (government office) was located in Yu’er Hutong, in a building with 40 rooms. This Yamen was established in the 6th year of Yongzheng Emperor (1728). It was called Yueqi, and was responsible for controlling the affairs of the eight banners during the Qing dynasty. It received its present name in the 16th year of the Qianlong Emperor (1751). The Military Ministry would send different landlords and ministers to take responsibilities for running it at the end of every year.

Qianlong Reforms the Banner System

During the first year of Yongzheng Emperor (1723), the Emperor felt that the affairs of the eight banners were not centralized enough, so he demanded that a different marshal or general of each banner take turns ruling the eight military groups every month. This marked the establishment of the custom of Zhiyueqi. According to the historical documents, the Emperor devised this system to better organize the military and centralize control.

These yamen were funded by each of the Manchu banners’ public coffers, usually an amount of 26 liang of silver given on a monthly basis.  But gradually this system decayed. The payments were delayed and debts accumulated, and the office suffered as a result.  The Qianlong and Yongzheng emperors both noticed this situation and tried to encourage better regulation, but to little avail. In 1751 (16th year of Qianlong) the emperor ordered the monthly banner management system be transformed into an annual system and thus decreed: “recently the eight-banner system has become ineffective, even the grand minister and subordinates have shirked responsibility, and management of things has fallen by the wayside…the custom of zhiyueqi (rotation of managers each month) has in fact become a bad habit of passing off responsibility to the next person.  From hereon the emperor will choose a suitable representative from within all of the banners, to oversee the affairs of all the banners, and to be charged with writing a yearly report.”

This system continued through the end of the Qing Dynasty and into the Republican Period.  From consulting archives, we know who was appointed the grand minister of the eight banners.  The final appointment was made in December of 1927, the 16th year of the Republic Period.  The Beiyang Government appointed heads to manage the Bordered Yellow Manchurian Banner, the Red Manchurian Banner, the Bordered White Manchurian Banner, the Bordered Red Han Corps, the Blue Han Corps Banner, and the Blue Mongolian Banner.  In 1928 the yearly system was already in decay though it had persisted until that point.

The office pleaded with the president to implement tax relief for the soldiers of the banners, because their living costs were increasing, showing that by this time the banner members under the authority of the zhinianqi increasingly had to fend for themselves.  In Jin Qizong’s book “The Manchus of Beijing”, he describes a scene of Manchu petitioners suffering from hunger as they gathered before the Yamen building to ask for assistance.

Works Cited

Zhongjianwei , Beijing City Dongcheng Gazeteer of Place Names

Dongcheng Cultural Heritage Records (Beijing Cultural Heritage Sites Folio)

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