Shanxi Merchant’s Guild Building
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Shanxi merchants set their business footprints all over ancient China. In order to accommodate meetings with other Merchants, they built magnificent buildings as their base, and these buildings are called Shanxi Merchant’s Guild Building.
At their peak time during the Ming and Qing, Shanxi Merchants had erected approximately 400 Guild Buildings nationwide, even in Tibet and Xinjiang. Shanxi Merchant’s Guild building is iconic among merchant guilds in the Ming and Qing dynasties; its internal business meeting structure and capital mechanism have been taken as reference by today’s business guilds. The Shanxi Merchant’s Guild Building in the photo of this article was located at Zhangye city, Gansu. According to the stele, it was built around the second year of the Yongzheng era (1724) by Shanxi merchants Zhaoshi Gui, Zhao Jiyu and Zhang Caochu. Like all the other Shanxi Merchant’s Guild Buildings, this guild building has two characteristics. First, it worshipped Guan Gong and set up Guan Gong temple. Second, it consisted of a theater stage. This guild building in Zhangye was actually built based on a former local Guan Gong temple, and the funding for this building was raised by merchants. This guild building carries significant historical meaning for scholars who study Shanxi merchants.