In this post, I’ll be discussing the architecture of the Si Ling compound. In Prince of the North, Gen notices that the “palace” the Si Ling live and work in is nothing like the palace he is used to. He describes it as being round in shape with four floors and one central courtyard/garden area for socializing and for meals. This structure is based on the Fujian tulou structures (although I admit that most tulou would have been constructed centuries after the time period that Prince of the North takes place in.) The reason I based the palace off of these fortresses is because 1) In Chinese myth, Heaven is round and Earth is square, so the round shape is representative of Heaven, 2) I needed a building that 4 or more people could live, work, and thrive in without having to run from one end of a gigantic complex to another (If any of you have seen old Chinese palaces, the distance between some of the buildings and offices is astounding), 3) Tulou are built to be in accordance with bagua principles, or the eight trigrams that work with the harmony of yin and yang, which fits perfectly for an organization that works in harmony.
Now let’s talk about the tulou of reality: tulou are earthen fortresses constructed by the people of Fujian province, mainly the Hakka people. Once finished, their walls can average about 6 feet thick and they are known for being earthquake-proof and wind-proof. Many of the tulou of Fujian date back to the 1300 and 1400s (while still remaining functional, too! Many families still live in these fortresses today). The largest tulou is around 254 feet in diameter and most stand at 3 to 5 floors. The most interesting thing about tulou fortresses is that they house families and people as equals. No section or wing is larger nor more elaborate than another, and everyone’s private quarters are of the same quality. While larger groups would have larger sections of the tulou for their family, every family is ranked equally when living together in the tulou, which is another reason I wanted to base the Si Ling mansion off of this structure: once inside, all four men are equals.
As for the Si Ling mansion, the rundown is this:
There are 4 wings: Qinglong, Xuanwu, Baihu, and Zhuque. Each wing is color coordinated to match the astrological colors of each sign, Qinglong is decorated in blues and greens, Xuanwu is decorated in greens and blacks, Baihu is decorated in whites and golds, and Zhuque is decorated in reds, pinks, and oranges. The communal areas are situated between the Qinglong and Zhuque wings, as well as in the center of the palace. They are decorated in violet and burgundy. Each wing (aside from the communal wing, which is smaller) takes up an equal amount of square footage of the mansion and each sign owns the four floors within their wing going vertically from bottom to top.
1st floor- courtyard, kitchens, and dining areas. Private kitchens and dining rooms are sectioned off for each member, but a communal kitchen is available off of the courtyard.
2nd floor- offices, studies, pharmacies, and laboratories. The offices and libraries are on this level, and a public office sits above the communal kitchen for all four to use if need be.
3rd floor- bathrooms. Bathhouse areas are on this floor.
4th floor- private wings and bedrooms. All bedrooms are located on the top level, and although only the 4 members of the organization live in the mansion at a time, each wing contains up to 4 separate bedrooms for guests, family, or other deities who may require it.
Observatory- The observatory is a separate building off to the east side of the mansion and is used for all astrological work.
Like most tulou, the Si Ling mansion only has one gate on the west side, which leads directly to other buildings in Heaven such as the Flower House and the palace of the Jade Emperor. Unlike earthly tulou, there is a main staircase connecting the bedrooms to the courtyard, and this staircase is located on the inner side of the south wing. However, staircases also link the other wings to their floors and courtyards, but these are located in the inner corners of each wing.
An example would be something like this, found in the Zhengchenglou fortress: