Du Fu Thatched Cottage

Du Fu Thatched Cottage is located in the western suburbs of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. Du Fu (712-770), one of the greatest Tang-dynasty poets, was born into a minor official’s family in Gongxian County, Henan Province.

He was studious from his childhood and acquired a wide range of knowledge. Concerning about events and the situation around him, he traveled extensively in China in his youth, and finally settled down in Chang’an (former name for Xi’an), capital of the Tang Dynasty at the time.

In 759, when he was 47, he was compelled by poverty and misfortunes to move from Chang’an to the outskirts of Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Of his 1,400 extant poems, more than 240 were written during the nearly four years he lived in this humble cottage.

The Tang Dynasty was on the decline in Du Fu’s time. Violent social upheavals plunged him into the ranks of the suffering, a plight that gave him profound understanding of the times. A sizable proportion of his voluminous poetry reflects the misery of the people and his enlightened views toward it. One stormy night, a gale tore the roof off his thatched cottage. This prompted him to think of the many labouring people who likely had no roof over their heads and Du Fu expressed his wish in a poem that the people should have decent housing. The profound social content and high artistic level of Du Fu’s poetry are the basis of his reputation among the Tang-dynasty poets.

At the cottage where Du Fu resided is an impressive life-size statue of the poet with one hand pensively stroking his beard. Outside, across a small bridge and up some steps is Du Fu’s Memorial Hall. On show here are steles, stone tablets, and clay sculptures of the poet done as early as the 14th century. Displayed in his study at the back of the cottage are over 150 copies of various editions of his poems, including woodblock-printed texts, hand-written copies from past dynasties, editions published after the new China was founded, and also translated versions in English, French, Russian, Japanese and 11 other languages.

There are also a collection of 2,700 biographies, booklets and literary commentary on his life, and his poems published in Chinese and other languages. The more than thousand books and paintings exhibited in Du Fu thatched cottage reflect his contribution to the enrichment of Chinese and world literature.

The humble cottage is now surrounded by a 20-hectare (50 acres0 garden with more than thirty varieties of plum trees besides magnolias, crabapples, camellias azalea, laurel, and other flowers and plants. The flowers in the garden are in bloom throughout the four seasons, scenting the air with their fragrance.

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