Xuguo Stone Memorial Archway
The Xuguo Stone Memorial Archway is located in Shexian County of Anhui Province.
The archway is a piece of typical Ming (1368-1644) architecture rarely seen in the country. Built in 1584 during the Ming Dynasty, the stone memorial archway stands on an imitation-wooden structure in the shape of a square. It is 11.54 meters long from south to north, 6.77 meters wide from the east to west, and 11.4 meters high, and covers an area of 78.13 square meters. The entire architectural complex actually comprises two archways with three small archways and five layers of roofs, including two archways with two columns, a single archway and three layers of roofs. All of the archways have an overhanging gable roof with a beast-shaped ornament decorating roof ridges. They were built using solid black stones measuring 50 by 50 centimeters each with a height of seven meters and weighing about four to five tons.
Made of blue stones, the monument stands with sculptures and inscriptions. Some people say it is a miniature museum of fine arts.
The Scholars Memorial Arch was built in 1275-1276 of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and rebuilt in the mid Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is said that this is the earliest memorial arch in the county. The three-storied four-posted arch stands at 11 meters in height and 9 meters in width. Made of reddish glutinite, the arch is also locally known as the red arch. Scholars in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) were able to sit for government exams and successful examinees became high-ranking officials. Though the system had existed long before, it was in the Song Dynasty that high ranking officials were forbidden to manipulate examination results. People were encouraged to read books and take the exams. Shexian County had 623 scholars pass the highest imperial examinations in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. That explains why there are so many scholars memorial arches in the county.
A large number of inscribed stone tablets were erected at the site. Records indicate that the inscriptions were written by the great calligrapher Dong Qichang of the Ming Dynasty.
The Xuguo Memorial Archway was built to commemorate Minister Xu Guo of the Ming Dynasty. Xu, born in Shexian County, was sent on a diplomatic mission to Korea in 1567. He was praised highly by the Korean regime owning to his refusal of gifts, since such behavior was regarded as honest and upright. Xu held an important position in the imperial government after his return. He died in his hometown in 1596.
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