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Wenyou Tai = Wènyòu Tài = 文游台 Say "wuhn-yoh tie"
A monument to Qin Guan at Wenyou Tai
S Harnsberger photo
Click photo for a Wenyou Tai Slideshow
If you enter Gaoyou from the expressway, you may notice a large
group of ancient Chinese buildings on a hill to the east of
Wenyouzhong Lu. This complex is Wenyou Tai (aka Wenyou Platform).
The story behind Wenyou Tai is a good illustration of the status
that Chinese culture gives its scholars and intellectuals.
Wenyou Tai (文wèn = literature, 游yòu = travel, 台tài = platform or
terrace) was built in AD 976 during the Northern Song Dynasty XE
"Northern Song Dynasty" . It was originally a part of the ancient
Taishan Temple, which no longer exists.
Wenyou Tai’s claim to fame arises from a gathering in 1084 of four
noted scholars, Su Shi, a famous writer, calligrapher, and poet in Song
Dynasty; Qin Guan, a famous poet originally from Gaoyou; and two other
scholars, Sun Jue, and Wang Gong. They drank wine, discussed literature,
wrote, and generally enjoyed themselves. Most accounts describe it as a
bit of a party.
Later, the famous stone-engraver, Qian Yong engraved some of the
resulting works on the walls of the building just below the highest
building on the hill. The walls also contain calligraphies by Su Dongpo,
Huang Tingjian, Mi Fei, Qing Shaoyou, Zhao Zi'ang, and Dong Qichang.
During the Cultural Revolution these engravings were painted over to
protect them from destruction, preserving them for enjoyment today.
The men who met at Wenyou were all quite notable figures in Chinese
history. The Gaoyou favorite is the poet Qin Guan. He was
the student of Su Shi, and was an authority in the “Graceful and
Restraint Style” of Chinese poetry or Cì (词). Qin Guan wrote many widely
known, and beautiful, Cì’s. The people of Gaoyou take special pride in
the one time resident, and maintain Wenyou Tai primarily in his memory.
This story of a gathering of great minds has made Wenyou Tai a famous
place of interest. Since the time of that historic gathering, it has
attracted scholars from all over China. The complex was restored in
1990, the and it has since become an important culture relic and
historical site, protected by the Jiangsu Province.
There are quite a few ancient buildings on Wenyou Tai, with many
containing original handwriting, paintings, and engravings. The
uppermost building is the most interesting, with the room where the
writers met, and a model of Han dynasty tombs found near Gaoyou. On a
clear day, there are great views of the Grand Canal and Gaoyou. Also at
Wenyou Tai is the Memorial of the 1931 Floods at Gaoyou and a small gift shop that sells Chinese language books.