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27 Pai Fang(monumental arched gateways) have stood in the history of the block around Wuma street, 3 of them devoted to a Longwan-district local - Wang Zan, the Shang Shu(equivalent to today minister) in the Ming Empire.
Source:温州三十六坊 | Author:Wenzhoudaily | Publish time:2018-08-21 | 8906 Views: | Share:
The old downtown area in Wenzhou used to be a forest of Pai Fang.The Wenzhou's local chronicle from Hongzhi era(the ninth emperor in Ming Dynasty) — Wenzhou Fu Zhi accounted 109 "Fang Men"...

A man of unyielding candor and utter magnanimity, Wang Zan submitted memorials to the throne recommending candidates of virtue while admonishing against wrong judicial convictions, and not least, posing a whole compendium of historic unscrupulousnesses from eunuchs and concubines in intimacy with the monarchs so as to sound a veiled alarm to the Highness about the looming danger from his most favored eunuch — Liu Jin.

The Bang Yan Gong Temple

Ignited by Wang Zan's opposition against him, Liu Jin, while at his height of political power, wielded his influence over the Emperor to, in the name of the sovereign, whip Wang with reprimands then relegate him to the inferior position of rank and file in the State College. It was until Liu Jin met his fate of a capital punishment after the disclosure of his conspiracy was Wang Zan resurrected to be Ji Jiu — the Principal of the State College, and later the vice Minister of the Ministry of Rites.     

The Pai Fang of Ji Jiu was the one preserved longest among all Pai Fangs in Wuma Street, it stood until its demolition called by the urban construction in 1936. It was documented in the 1882(eighth year under the Qing Emperor Guangxu) atlas — Architectures, Waterbodies, Arteries and Administrative Divisions in the Ancient City Wenzhou — that the name “Ji Jiu Fang” was once the namesake of the district stretching from Gongan Road to Houshi Alley, in other words, the street presently named Wuma was at that time divided into two sections at the juncture of Gongan Road — the east Ji Jiu Fang and the west Wuma Street.

Shang Shu Fang

At the eastern end of Wuma Street, the Pai Fang inscribed with the characters "Shang Shu" once stood, to quote the account in the Qing era journal Yongjia Xian Zhi, again "in honor of Wang Zan".

The 29 years of Wang Zan's political career spanned the rule of three emperors. when he died in 1524(the third year of the Ming Emperor Jiajing), he was elevated posthumously to be the Minister(Shang Shu) of the Ministry of Rites. His entitlement as "the Titan in scholarship and pedagogy" by later generations certainly came from his profound academic achievement in Neo-Confucianism, but moreover was based on his considerable exertion in that epochal context both as an official and a scholar, most prominently his support for Zhang Cong in opposition against Yang Tinghe when the monumental dispute around the titles for the emperor’s parents in the mid-Ming Dynasty began, which not only brought about a instant transformation of the political landscape but whose legacy continued to be sensed in years to come.