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Home >> China City Guide >> Anhui Province >> Huangshan >> Hongcun Village and Xidi Village

Hongcun Village and Xidi Village

Hongcun Village and Xidi Village, Huangshan
Hongcun Village and Xidi Village
Hongcun Village and Xidi Village, Huangshan China
Hongcun Village and Xidi Village, Huangshan Anhui China
Hongcun Village and Xidi Village, Huangshan Anhui
Hongcun Village and Xidi Village, Huangshan Anhui province

Hongcun is known as the "cow-shaped village" since the pond is shaped like a cow's belly and the dyke looks like one of the cow's legs. More than 800 years old, the village was first constructed during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The village now boasts 158 residential buildings that date back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Nearly 140 are still in good shape. Although new buildings account for 30 per cent of the village's total area, they are either smartly ooncealed or far removed from the aged ones. Some villagers have already moved out of their ancestral homes to make way for tourists. Others still live there and open parts of their homes to visitors. Local authorities have bought ancient homes from owners who prefer to move into new ones. And local authorities only allow villagers to rebuild their houses nearby the village, so that they don't overshadow the ancient ones. Before Mt. Husngshan became a city in 1987, it had no air or rail links to the outside world; the nearest city was hours away. From their imposing look to delicate ornamental details like woodcavings on window frames and banisters, the buildings feature fine workmanship that is hard to find today. This area was free from gunfire for hundreds of years. The Japanese aggressors didn't come here.

Hongcun, like Xidi, is a paradise for architects. Judging from the general layout of the villages, Xidi is meant to resemble a sailing boat. The Hui School architecture is depicted in the fancy architectural ornaments. The concept behind Hui architecture is far more intricate than what the visitors have learned about saw-tooth, which local people call "horse-head,' and fire gables, which local people name "fish-belly" beams. Stunning delicate woodcarvings were engraved on the beams above the front lounge of the Chengzhi Hall, the house of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) salt dealer Wang Dinggui in Hongcun Village. One depicts dozens of playful children celebrating the Lantern Festival by setting off firecrackers, beating drums and gongs or blowing trumpets. Another portrays dozens officials playing stringed musical instruments, painting or doing calligraphy at four tables. Barbers and tea servants are shown working behind them. The memorial archway--built in 1578 and dedicated to Hu Weuguang, a Xidi native who became a high official of the Ming Dynasty--is a masterpiece of stone carving. The best brick carving ever in Xiyuan, or west garden, at the house of another prominent Ming-dynasty official from Xidi. The pine, bamboo, plum blossom and rocks look real. The 13 stone pillars on the north end of the pond are said to be the guardians of the village. Behind them is Lexu Hall. It is the ancestral temple of the Wang family, the first residents who formed the village in 1131. No wonder UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee added both Hongeun and Xidi to the World Heritage List in2000.

Hong Village is laid out in the shape of an ox, with the higher end of the village--the Leigang Mountain--resembling an ox head. Centuries-old trees in the mountain tower to the sky just like ox horns. Hundreds of weU-preserved ancient houses spread from east to west like the body of an ox. Another attraction of the village lies in its water supply system, which had been used for hundreds of years.

Small and crisscrossing waterways link various households. Streams originating to the northwest of the village flow across the area through waterways. Local people describe the 1,000-metre long waterways as "the ox intestines." The Moon Pond and the Nanhu Lake were formed by the streams and took the shape of the ox stomach. Villagers built four bridges over the streams, which are said to look like ox hoofs. The effective water supply system has survived two fires and was completed by generations of villagers. The waterways were like the reins of the village, deciding the pulse of its daily life. Villagers grow flowers in the courtyards and various kinds of fish teem in the pond.

Huangshan Attractions
Hongcun and Xidi Village
Tunxi Ancient Street
Mt Jiuhuashan
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