Gu Yanwu Memorial

Gu Yanwu (1613-1682) was born in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province. In 1645, when the Qing army invaded Nanjing, Zhang Huangyan, acting on behalf of the Prince of Lu, attempted to re-establish the Ming Dynasty, and Gu raised an army to support him. Gu' s admiration for Wang Yanwu, a disciple of the Southern Song national hero Wen Tianxiang, led him to change his own name to Yanwu. Despite his political activities, Gu Yanwu is primarily known as a scholar. After the fall of the Ming, he repeatedly refused official positions in the Qing government and devoted himself to literary pursuits. The Gu Yanwu Memorial on Baoguosi (Recompense the Country Temple) Road in the Guang' anmen district was originally his home. In 1843, during the reign of Emperor Daoguang, the poets He Shaoji and Zhang Mu made his house into a memorial. The site was abandoned long ago and little remains of the original buildings, yet on a wall lining the paved path leading to the main hall Shaoji and Zhang Mu erected the memorial; the other inscribed with a commemorative text by Xu Shichang (1855-1939), a president in the Northern Warlord government.

Gu Yanwu spent little time in Beijing as he became implicated in the "Case of the Haungpei Poetry Counter-Current" and was imprisoned in Jinan (Shandong Province) for seven months. While Gu was in Beijing, however, he devoted himself to scholarship, and his famous works Notes on the Daily Accumulation of Knowledge and The Strategic Economic Advantages of Districts and States of the Empire were both compiled while he was living at the capital. His work Five Volumes on the Study of Phonology was said to have taken him 30 years to complete and to undergo five revisions.


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