Explore history at home base of military genius
Deep in the mountains of Lingui county, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is the former home of Li Tsung-jen, a man of integrity, a renowned military strategist and the acting president of the Republic of China in 1948.
Li gained China’s first major victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression ( 1937- 45) at the 1938 battle of Tai’erzhuang, in Shandong province, when 20,000 to 30,000 enemy troops were killed.
Li was born in 1891, in Langtou village, and was the second boy of eight children. His father, Li Peiying, was a schoolteacher in the village, while his mother, Liu Suduan, was well respected in the community.
Li’s elder brother built their Lingui county house in the early 1900s and Li lived there until 1908, when he enrolled at age 17 at a local military school. He revisited the house four times in 1911 as part of his marriage preparations, returned in 1926 for a family gathering, in 1942 for his dying mother, and also in 1948 to ponder his future at a time when the Kuomintang was losing the civil war.
The square residence, circled by 8.5- meter- tall gray- brick walls, covers an area of 5,060 sq meters. It has small baroquestyle windows and turrets. Its main gate opens to the north, while there is a saddle-shaped karst hill to its west.
Feng shui masters attribute Li’s success to the positioning of the residence in relation to the hill and the well, and believe the gate facing north ensured good fortune would enter the house.
Today, walking into the compound, there is the smell of rotten wood covered by moss, and slippery slates on the ground,
Li’s parents moved into the General’s Residence after it was built in 1923 and it was often the scene of family celebrations.
Happy Residence and the General’s Residence form an inner yard surrounded by tall walls, divided into smaller yards, and feature a two-story, five-bedroom wooden building, kitchen, granary, oil depot, toilet and bathroom.
The eight wooden buildings in the four small yards have similar styles and are interconnected. On the first floor are two bedrooms, with a living room and a dining room. On the second floor are three bedrooms that share one large wooden balcony.
To the east of the two residences is a school for the extended family’s children and a garden that was built in 1925 for Li’s father. Li’s father died in 1925, without teaching in the school or enjoying the garden.
The third expansion of the residence is the guesthouse of about 2,000 sq m, which features three rows of interconnected two- story wooden buildings, with roofs supported by solid fir tree pillars and carved stone bases. The wooden walls between the buildings can be removed, allowing space for the hosting of big events.
All rainfall and sanitary waste was piped into a basketball court-sized fishpond, not far from the spring well, which freshened the pond, provided water for washing, and also watered the family’s rice paddy field.
Li Changqing, a 72-year-old farmer and the grandson of Li Tsung-jen’s father’s elder brother, still lives at the residence. “I don’t believe the feng shui masters. Li Tsung-jen was the only ‘somebody’ to come from here. Most of his relatives, like me, are poor.”
Li Tsung-jen’s old residence in Langtou village of Lingui county, Guilin city, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
Guest house in Li Tsung-jen’s old residence.