Qiao Family Compound

The Qiao Family Compound is located in Qiaojiabao Village, Qi County, about 30km north of Pingyao town. This ancient family residence is renowned for its large size and the beautiful traditional architecture in which it was built. Constructed in 1756 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), its most famous resident was the financier Qiao Zhiyong (1818-1907), although the Qiao family's original wealth came from Qiao Guifa who built the compound for his family. Guifa was an orphan who acted as a servant before starting a business and making his fortune. Since then it has been renovated twice and extended once and has now been turned into the Qixian Folk Museum in 1986.

Within its grounds there are 313 buildings, 6 large courtyards and 19 small courtyards covering an area of 9000 square meters. From above, all this resembles the Chinese character Xǐ囍, meaning double happiness. This huge complex has streets on 3 sides and so is protected by 10m high walls which gives the inside a tranquil peaceful setting while providing good security. All the roofs of the buildings are connected which allowed guards to move easier. Entering the main gate on the east side of the courtyard house, an 80m long stone path leads west to the main family hall and splits the compound into north and south sections.

Excellent craftsmanship has gone into every part and detail of its construction. The buildings are beautifully designed and shaped and there are wonderful brick carvings all over the walls of flowers, birds, animals etc. Wood carvings and murals also decorate the courtyards as well as engraved stone tablets and much more fantastic architecture.

As well as this, the Qiao residence is most famous as a set for various movies, the most well known being Raise the Red Lanterns by the famous director Zhang Yimou. This shows the high regard in which the courtyard house's design is held. The museum tells of the Qiao family history and holds many items regarding such things as folk arts and crafts, agricultural customs, food and clothes etc.

The Qiao family's fortunes may have declined long ago but their legacy left behind in their home will be admired always by any that come to see it.