Our visit to the Wang Family Compound or Wang Jia Da Yuan, 35 km outside of Pingyao, was very special and especially meaningful to my family. My last name is Wong, and Wang and Wong are actually the same in Chinese and means “King”. Apparently, all the Wang/Wongs in the world originated here in Shanxi. The first Wang was a prince of King Ling of the Western Zhou Dynasty named Wang Zi Qiao which translates to “Prince Qiao”.
Prince Qiao was reduced to civilian status due to his remonstration to the king and since people still called him Wang Zi Qiao, he ended up taking up the last name “Wang”. This colossal family compound was the home of the first Wangs. Tweny-five generations of Wangs lived here and at its largest, it was twice the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing. There are over two thousand houses in this family complex with each nuclear family living in their own residence within the compound.
Other than the Wang Family Compound, there are quite a few other large residences here in the Pingyao area like the Qiao, Cao, and Chang Family Compounds. The most famous being the Qiao Family Compound where they filmed “Raise the Red Lantern”.