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Qiangulouyuan Hutong 前鼓楼苑胡同

Qiangulouyuan Hutong


Qiangulouyuan Hutong runs east to west. It starts at Nanluoguxiang in the east, and ends at Nanxiawazi Hutong in the west. It is 261 meters in length, and 6 meters in width. The house numbers on one side ranges from 1 to 19, while on the other side range from 2 to 14. In the Ming Dynasty, it belonged to the Zhaohuijinggong District, and was called Gulao Hutong because it was a home for the elderly (gulao meaning old).  In the Qing Dynasty, it belonged to the Bordered Yellow Banner, and was called Qiangulou yuan , during the Qianlong Period.  During the Xuantong Period, the name was changed to Qiangulouyuan. This name remained for a short period of time after the founding of the PRC.  Afterwards, its name changed several times, until it regained its former name in 1979.  Now the No.8 and No. 9 courtyards are Cultural Heritage Protection Sites, while the others are mostly residences

No.8 and No. 9 Qiangulouyuan Hutong:

These courtyards were built at the end of the Qing Dynasty, and are now private residential buildings.  The residence was divided into three courtyards, oriented from north facing south. Preserved buildings include a Manzi Gate, located in the southeast corner of the courtyard with a Yingshan style roof.  Inside the gate, there is a sheltering wall. The first courtyard features a seven-hall reversely-set wing, and a Yidian Yijuan style Chuihua Gate to the north. Looking at the both sides, you can see that there are patterns in the tile and carving of the characters “Fu” and “Shou.” However, both of characters are now difficult to distinguish. The second yard has five rooms in the north wing with a covered walkway at the front and back of the yard. There are two side rooms attached to the north wing. There are east and west wings of three rooms each on the east and west. A sideroom attaches to each of the rooms at the south. A covered walkway links the rooms in the four directions. All the roofs of the rooms in the second yard are Yingshan style, and there are qiaoti between the pillars in the central bay. In the third yard, there are seven rooms behind the main rooms, of which the roofs are Yingshan style.

The courtyard’s layout is quite precise and the buildings exquisite.  It is a typical medium-sized traditional courtyard in Beijing, and was well protected. This courtyard was announced as a Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Site on March 8th, 2001.

Jinde Middle School:

According to the Guidebook of Beiping edited by Ma Zhixiang, Jinde Middle School located in No. 4 in Qiangulouyuan Hutong. Jinde Middle School was established in 1927, headed by schoolmaster Zhu Yichen. It was a basic level school compared with other private middle schools.  In late 1920s, the school moved from No. 5 in Daxiaofo Temple of Gulou East Street to No. 4 in Qiangulouyuan Hutong.

Yuqing Girl’s Advanced Vocational School:

According to the Guidebook of Beiping edited by Ma Zhixiang, Yuqing Girl’s Advanced Vocational School was located in No. 3 in Qiangulouyuan Hutong. Yuqing Girl’s Advanced Vocational School was established in 1940 by Yin Changwei Yin Meibo (who was part of the Manchukuo puppet state), and also an imperial bannerman during the Qing Dynasty. There were about 200 students there at that time. This school was a secondary education institution. Subjects of study included housekeeping, official document writing, and commerce.  After China’s victory in the War of Resistance against Japan, the Communist party took over the school and appointed Gao Guangdou as headmaster.

Almshouse for Lonely Old People:

According to Wanshu Miscellaney, there were two almshouses in Ming Dynasty Beijing. One of them, located in the Wanping District, was in subdivision west of the river channel, while the other was in Daxing, in Fuqian Gulao Hutong. That is to say, the almshouse in Daxing District is in what is now Qiangulouyuan Hutong.

During the Ming Dynasty, elderly people went to the almshouse to live together.  Some received food and clothes from the government, and lived with their relatives. According to the residence registration laws in the Family Law Section of the Great Ming Code, those who had no companion or kin and could not support themselves, and who were ill or unable to work, should be adopted by the local government and supplied with food and clothes.  Those who would not accept such assistance would be punished.  In the 19th year of the first Ming Emperor, Hongwu (1386), a law stated that those who had no relative should be given 60 pecks of rice. In the 1st year in Emperor Jianwen (1399), the amount changed to 30 pecks. Only those who had no relatives could enter the almshouses. In the 1st year of the Tianshun Emperor (1457), the government established two almshouses in Daxing and Wanping District, which provided two meals for those accepted.  In the 2nd year of the Chenghua Emperor (1466), the government gave an order that all the poor people should be taken into the almshouses.  Until the 16th year of the Chenghua Emperor (1480), the government had supported about 7,490 old people in total, and gave them more than 269,000 pecks of rice and 740 bolts of cloth.  In the 1st year of the Jiajing Emperor (1522), the emperor ordered that poor people in Beijing should be adopted.  If the censors found any beggar in the street, they were to send them to the Shuntianfu almshouse. In the 9th year (1530), it was ordered that all the local officers should make an earnest attempt to improve the almshouses.  And in the next year the government again enjoined local officers to adopt poor people. In the 1st year of Wanli Emperor (1573), the almshouses adopted 1,080 people in total. When the emperor married in the 7th year (1579), the almshouses adopted 500 additional people. In the 10th year, when the emperor had his first child, 585 people were enrolled in the almshouses. The two almshouses in Daxing and Wanping had approximately the same number of residents.

According to Ming dynasty records, when an almshouse was going to adopt a person, the government should check his hometown, age, and family background carefully. At the same time, his political and moral condition would be taken into consideration. Those who displayed bad behaviors, such as stirring up trouble or regularly violating laws, could not be enrolled in an almshouse.  The specific standards were called the “Five Investigations.” These entailed “checking if he had any children, if he had any relative, if he had any property, if he had immoral behavior or violated the laws.” Only those who passed the five investigations could enter the almshouses.


ZHONG, Jianwei. The History of the Place names in Dongcheng District, Beijing

LI, Tiesheng, ZHANG, Endong edited. The Historiette of Nanluogu Alley

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