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Huizhou Doushan Street

the paifang themed with the name of Doushan ancient street
Doushan Ancient Street

The famous Big Dipper North Star form street with many old residential houses in Shexian (歙县) county-city was built in the Ming Dynasty and began to flourish in the Qing Dynasty. The Anhui architectural style with several ancient alleys, sculpture artistry, old water wells, and memorial torii arches beautifully decorated the 300-meter-long street. The Anhui wealthy merchant mansions such as Wang’s Residence (汪氏民宅), Yang’s Grand Mansion (杨家大院), Xu’s Grand Mansion (许氏大院) and Pan’s Grand Mansion, as well as the Toad Well, General Yue Fei’s Horse Drinking Water Area, and several chastity memorial arches have documented the past glory of Huizhou’s life and business. Huizhou Shexian County’s culture has given us many precious treasures that most parts of the street and architecture remain intact. This is due to the fact that the descendants of Anhui people have made efforts to preserve and inherit the invaluable heritage

The Yang’s Grand Mansion had once been the residence of the Ming Dynasty imperial cadres. The mansion’s structure is deep when entering the main hall, which is in traditional Chinese sense meant that officials’ house should be “deep like sea”, majestic and solemnly decorated. Everything in the mansion, including the front hall, the study room and the grand courtyard, demonstrates the wealth and power of the old family.

The Xu’s Grand Mansion was built in the early Qing Dynasty. Like a traditional Chinese private school that taught Confucius and other Chinese classics, it periodically held ceremonies to celebrate Confucius’ birthday. The mansion equipped teachers’ bedrooms, and classrooms in which they were fully packed with pupils who always read Chinese classics aloud. The Xu’s Grand Mansion, which had provided theoretical and practical knowledge, was the cradle of Anhui’s businessmen, such as Hu Xueyan.

Wang’s Residence had been a businessmen’s mansion. Unlike the majestic feel and solemnity of the Yang’s family mansion, it is spacious with relatively simple layout and elegant ornamentation. The highlight is that each of the 24 doors of the house has pretty wooden carvings with colorful painting on porcelain that stuck to the door.

Madame Song Qingling handwriting themed with Wan Shi Shi Biao
Madame Song Qingling's splendid
handwriting themed with Wan Shi
Shi Biao(万世师表), which is exclusively
used for praising teachers

The Toad Well has a beautiful legend that once in ancient times Doushan Street had been lacking water and residents’ life was very inconvenient. At the time between the years 785 and 805 AD, someone had found that there were two earth ridges in which many toads living. People thought that might be water down there, so that they dug the holes quite deeply, and eventually they found two fresh cool springs with plenty of sweet water. Therefore it got its name – the Toad Well.

General Yue Fei’s Horse Drinking Water Area was for his tired horses to drink water and have rest when they passed Huizhou to the north fighting against the ethnic Jin army in the Southern Song Dynasty. A legend goes that the military horses could not go further, suddenly a cool spring flowed from the ground, and the horses drank the water and became strong again. They also obtained the aid provision from local residents.

The Filial Memorial Torii Arch is typical in Huizhou Shexian with the profound implications of loyalty, filial piety, chastity, and justice. Built in 1650, it belonged to the Huang’s family. A widow of a family’s man fasted to death in memory of her deceased husband that was to demonstrate her chastity.

Ye’s Widow Chastity Memorial Arch is to tribute to Ye’s widow who had helped Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, to escape from the assassination by the Yuan imperial forces. She gave food to him for a week, after that Zhu saw the Yuan army was defeated, he left her. When he became the emperor of China, he still remembered her and wanted her to be one of the concubines in his royal palace. She refused and killed herself to preserve her chastity. In memory of her, Zhu Yuanzhang ordered to build a memorial arch in Shexian.

Huizhou Xin’an Painting has a long history with unique characteristics. Folk artists of nobility were from the foot of the Huangshan Mountain that the changing political situations in ancient times had made them to be lonely and melancholy all the time. Their paintings are mostly about natural scenery with gray, gloomy and cool looks, which are described as lofty but harsh in quality.

Later the royal court of the Qing Dynasty, the Emperor, the Queen and the Prince should give the boiled congee for imperial officials, servants and maids of honor. They also had to donate rice and fruits for Buddhist monks on the day. Civilians celebrated this festival by making the porridge, paid homage to ancestors, and presented gifts to relatives and friends.

1. Huizhou Travel Guide
2. Huizhou City Guide
3. Huizhou City Tours

Writer: David from Seeraa International
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