[Travel] Hongcun, the Painting of the Land, Water and Mountain

My last leg for my Anhui trip from Huangshan, to Xidi, to Tachuan, and lastly, Hongcun. From Tachuan, I ended up taking a motor-taxi since it’s a bit uphill to Hongcun. 15 CYN and I take a photo of her smiling.

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Hongcun (宏村) or Hong Village, together with Xidi, are part of the Ancient villages of Anhui and World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. To enter the village the entry fee is 104 CYN (half price for a student). I meet up with Jacinda and the rest of my friends from Huangshan trip. They’ll continue to Xidi in the afternoon and I go back to Shanghai.

Hongcun is very, very touristy. The sight is made famous from Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and BOOM, instant Chinese tourist spot coming in buses and loud speaker. Hgghh. In hindsight, I should probably stay a night in Hongcun to get the most in the afternoon and the morning once the tourists bus are gone because the village is beautiful! Ah well, maybe next time.

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The South Lake (南湖; Nán Hú) surrounding the village in shape like a bow. The other half moon pond is inside the village like an innards of an ox because the village is shaped like one.

Some students from art school painting.

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The stone bridge and the village backdrop feature in Ang Lee’s movie

Like a bow and arrow.

I love the craft market here. Kinda pricy because it’s tourist area but seeing the tools and artists carving and painting are a nice way to spend the afternoon.

Hongcun village is dating from Song Dynasty, and with so many villages in Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces, the village have the same style architecture, geographically and culturally from Huizhou (徽州) or the Hui people. I’m sure the inside of the dwellings are pretty modern but the outer buildings are white washed walls, dark and grey tiles and horse-head gables above the doors and the roof. They have the same principle design of high windows, heavily decorative wood, brick and stone carving.

I can’t get over the clean clear water of the waterways within the village. It is said that because of the Feng Shui construction of the village, the waterway system represents the lifeline of the people, therefore, the water stream is maintained properly.

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The life in this village is also nice and tranquil amidst the tourists and photographers totting around with their handphones and cameras.

As mention, Huizhou (徽州) or Hui people are merchants with perchance to decorative paintings and carving in their dwelling. The artisans are skilled in carving on wood, brick and stone. The most beautiful preserved wood carving is from Chengzhi Hall (承志堂) or Civil Imperial Palace.

The house belonged to the Wang family (汪, Wāng), a rich salt merchant.The house dates back to the 1855 or during Qing Dynasty. Chengzhi Hall is a two levels house decorated with intricate wood carving gilded with rich color like red and gold with the cost of 600,000 taels of silver, twenty craftsmen and four years to finish*.

The images carved on the balks, brackets, braces, window and door frames, railing and support beams are often based on the Confucius beliefs like obedience ( jie 节), filial piety (xiao 孝) , the honesty and integrity of the civil servant (lian 廉) and faithfulness and loyalty (zhong 忠). The folk lore, animals and plants and stories of the gods and even a scene or two from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Next we take a look at the half Moon Pond (月沼; Yuè Zhǎo) that it says to be the Ox’s innards and also the village’s lifeline connecting the waterways to the lake. By this time, there are tons of tourists and loud guides. I have a major headache from all the noise.

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The last building is the Lexu Hall (乐叙堂; Lèxù Táng), but I gave up after people jousting me around for a good photo. I got this wonderful stone gate though.

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Some wood carving I found really nice!

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After walking so long, I need to have a late lunch. Pretty much the price is a bit high for restaurants inside the village. There are some home cooked meal street food for less. I have 2 chicken with glutenous rice for 52 CYN. So good!

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As the sun set, I’m going back to Shanghai. Winter is coming.

Anhui Trip: Huangshan, Xidi, TachuanJingqu, Hongcun

Source: UNESCO, Hongcun Official Site (Chinese), *”A Trip to Huizhou” ISBN 7-80007-813-2

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