The pavilion was built in AD 653, when Tengwang Li Yuanying (King Teng), a younger brother of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty was the governor of Nanchang. This is also the reason why Li Yuanying is more well-known than his other brothers.
Li Yuanying was born in the imperial family, and he was a typical image of a flamboyant dandy by the influence of court life. In 639, he was enfeoffed as Prince Teng and spent his early years in Suzhou. In 652 he was assigned the governorship of Nanchang. Later, he built a pavilion as his townhouse, which is the famous Tengwang Pavilion.
The reputation of Tengwang Pavilion, to a great extent, is due to a well-known text - "Preface to Tengwang Pavilion" by Wangbo. It was said that when the author, a reputable poet of the Tang Dynasty, passed Nanchang on his way to Guangdong, he wrote this prose on the subject of the banquet which was being held to celebrate the reconstruction of the pavilion. Because of the famous text, most people remember Tengwang Pavilion, while few remember Li Yuanying. Pavilion of Prince Teng became a popular place to welcome and send off guests in history, compose poetry, and lyric writing in this pavilion became a long-lasting fashion. Even commoner emperor Zhu Yuanzhang also set up the celebration party on this pavilion. The pavilion was to be destroyed and rebuilt a total of 29 times over the next centuries.
In 1926, tragedy struck when the pavilion was totally destroyed by fire during that period’s tangled warfare among warlords. In 1989, the pavilion was rebuilt again according to the architectural style of the Song Dynasty. This nine-storied structure stands 57.5 meters in height and occupies a construction area of 13,000 square meters with a 12-meter-long base symbolic of ancient city walls. Made of reinforced cement, the pavilion, featuring flying eaves and engraved beams, looks quite splendid.
The Pavilion is reached by a zigzag bridge and is circled by rock gardens and lakes. The main building of the pavilion is 57.5 meters tall with nine storeys, occupying an area of 47,000 square meters. There are two smaller towers standing on the north and south sides of the principal building. The charm of the pavilion is in the green tiles and the up-turned double eaves. Moreover, there are great collections of musical instruments, religious ornaments, bronze sacrifice ornaments, and series bells which reflect the true classical elegance of the new pavilion.
There is a large white marble relief in the main hall of the first floor.
The second layer is a dark layer, and there is a large meticulous re-color frescoes "outstanding personality map" in the main hall, painted the eighty leading ancient Jiangxi celebrities from the Qin Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty. The third layer is a corridor around the next four layers, is also an important Pavilion level, there are four giant gold plaques under the hallway. In the middle of the hall, there is a fresco on the screen wall, based on the story of "The Peony Pavilion".
The Peony Pavilion is a play written by Tang Xianzu in the Ming Dynasty and first performed in 1598 at the Pavilion of Prince Teng. After that, Pavilion of Prince Teng was gradually evolved into an opera stage from a dance balcony. The fourth layer is a dark layer.
Similar to the third layer, the fifth floor is also a corridor around the fourth layer, it is the best place to view the landscape and meet friends with texts. There are four gold plaques under the hallway, whose contents were based on the Preface to Tengwang Pavilion. The wall in the middle of hall was inlaid with Wang Bo's brass monument " Preface to Tengwang Pavilion ", about ten square meters.
There is a flowers butterfly picture hanging on the east wall of the West Hall, which is chose from story that Li Yuanying loved butterfly and also loved to paint butterfly.
The sixth layer is the highest floor of Pavilion of Prince Teng. The West Hall is known as the "Antique Showcase Room", which is a small stage, where there are some rare copies of ancient musical instruments display. And there are some twenty minutes of the Tang Dynasty musician performances every day.
As one of the three famous pavilions in ancient China, Tengwang Pavilion fully reflects the profound Chinese culture although it is reconstruction in recent years, it is also reflects the characteristics of ancient civilizations in Jiangxi.