Cao's Compound

12 miles north of Pingyao, Shanxi Province

Cao's Compound (Qiao Jia Dayuan) is the residence of a wealthy merchant family, whose patriarch made his fortune from selling bean curd. The compound dates from the Qing dynasty, 1755/6, and occupies a two-acre lot. The family's fortunes declined at the end of the dynasty - they made substantial, and very unwise, loans to Empress Cixi to facilitate her escape from the Allied Powers invasion of Beijing in 1900 (Boxer Rebellion). More recently, the courtyards such as this were featured in the well-known movie titled "Raise the Red Lantern." The rooms giving on to this rather austere courtyard would have been occupied by concubines or subsidiary wives.