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Huizhou Hongcun Village

Hongcun Village(宏村), originally meaning popularity, is located at the south foot of Huangshan Mountain Scenic Area, roughly 11 kilometers away from downtown area of Yi county. It is a special village shaping an ox. The whole area of the village is 19.11 hectares. Hongcun village was built in the South Song Dynasty, approximately a period from 1131 to 1162, so it has more than 900 years of history. As mentioned above, the original name of this village was Hong Cun(弘村), which means the village of spreading. On November 30, 2000, Hongcun ancient village together with Xidi village was approved as a site of world cultural heritage in the 24th UNESCO world heritage committee conference.

The History and Tourist Attractions of Hongcun Village

huizhou hongcun ancient village
Huizhou Hongcun Ancient Village

Hongcun village was originally built in South Song Dynasty and the living place of people with the same surname of Wang. It is closed to Yangzhan Peak and Leigang Hill. The whole geographic characteristics are quite special, and the whole village, surrounded by great natural landscape, looks like a Chinese ink wash painting, so it is world-famous ancient picturesque village. The artificial water system of this ox-shape village designed and built by local people is a great architectural miracle at present. The grand Leigang Hill is the head of the ox, and the tall trees are the ox horns, and the village is the body of the ox, and the Yinqing Spring is the ox tharm, and the water goes along it forward to the stomach of ox, a pond named Moon Pond, and is finally stored in South Lake, considered as the ox belly. The local people also built up four bridges crossing the rivers and streams, which are taken as the legs of ox. This special design meets the needs of fire fighting and local residents’ daily life.

Currently, there are more than 140 traditional houses of Ming and Qing Dynasties well preserved. The typical representative of the local architecture is Chengzhi Hall(Hall of Succeeding the Will,承志堂). It is the most famous ancient residential building of south Anhui province. South Lake Academy(南湖书院) profoundly shows the architectural style of Huizhou. The buildings like Jingxiu Hall, Dongxian Hall, Sanli Hall and Xuren Hall all reveal the local history and culture of Huizhou. the local famous tourist attractions also include the view of south lake, Yuezhao Chunxiao(Early Spring of Pool Moonlight,月沼春晓) , Leigang Xizhao(Sunglow of Leigang Hill,雷岗夕照), Tower of Zhishan Hill with Woodcarving, Qixu Lake, Tachuan Qiuse(Autumnal View of Tachuan, 塔川秋色), Mukeng Zhuhai(Bamboo Forest of Mukeng,木坑竹海), Shuangxi Yingbi(Double Streams Mirror Green,双溪映碧) and Wancun Mingci(Memorial Temple of Ming Dynasty,万村明祠).

In 1999, a Plan of Hongcun Village Protection and Development was approved by National Construction Ministry and Bureau of Ancient Heritage Administration. In 2000, Hongcun village was written into the List of World Heritage. In 2001, Hongcun village was listed to be the key site under the national protection. In 2003, it was selected into the first batch of national historic and cultural villages, which is only comprised of 12 villages.

The Architectural Feature of Hongcun Village

The main architecture of Hongcun village is the residential buildings and private gardens, plus some public service sites like the schools and memorial temples. The whole building complex forms a whole system. All types of buildings focus on the decoration. The woodcarving, brick-carving and stone-carving are all eloquent and valued artistically. The alleys and streets in village are mostly built along the interior water system. The folk residential building are chiefly built around the Yuezhao(月沼). The houses are all double layout (the front part, the courtyard and the rear part). Some big families bring the water into the mansions to open a fishing pond, which are represented by South Lake Academy, Lexu Hall, Chengzhi Hall, Chengyi Hall, Songhe Hall and Biyuan Garden.

huizhou hongcun ancient village
The Classic View of Huizhou Hongcun Ancient Village

South Lake Academy located on the north side of South lake is a private school comprised of six different parts built in late Ming Dynasty, and historically called Yihu Liuyuan(倚湖六院). In 1814, it was reconstructed. After the reconstruction, the whole academy is compsied of Zhidang Hall, Wenchang Pavlion, Qimeng Pavilion, Huiwen Pavilion, Wanghu Tower and Qi Garden(祗园). Lexu Hall(乐叙堂) is the memorial temple of Wang family, and it is located at the middle of north side of Yuezhao. Lexu Hall is the only architecture of Ming Dynasty in village; especially the woodcarvings, which are quite splendid.

Chengzhi Hall was built in 1855 was the mansion of Wang Daigui(汪定贵), a big salt businessman, and it is the biggest architectural complex in village, roughly covering 2100 square meters, and it is made up of more than 60 rooms centering on nine dooryards. The main hall and the real hall are both the three-room architecture with cloister style, and two sides are the private education hall and fishing pond hall, and the rear yard is a garden. In the mansion ,there are also the sites for taking opium named Tunyun Xuan(吞云轩, Pavilion of Swallowing Cloud) and playing Mahjong named Paishan Ge(排山阁, Pavilion if Pushing Mountain). The whole mansion is raised by 136 wood columns, and wood decorations are quite impressive and themed with many educative stories or historical anecdotes. By the way, Hongcun village is also the site of making movie, Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon(卧虎藏龙)

The Fengshui Design of Hongcun Village

huizhou hongcun chengzhi hall
Huizhou Hongcun Chengzhi Hall

During the reign of Yongle in Ming Dynasty, the governor of Hongcun Village invited He Kaida(何可达), a famous regional fengshui master, for three times, and He Kaida thought of the geography of Hongcun village as a lying ox, so it had better be built as the shape of ox. The local people in line with the suggestions of Mr. He expanded a springwater site to be a half-moon-style pond, and the shape of pond looks like an ox stomach, and then built a stone dam on Jiyang River in the west side of village. They built a water channel with more than 400 meters long, and they brought the water into the village to go nearby to each houses, and it is the ox tharm. Four bridges across the Yushan Stream are the four legs of this ox.

It was said that this half-moon pond had been dug as a round-moon type, but the wife of the 76th ancestor insisted on digging a half-moon one based on her viewpoint of the blooming flower will fall and the full moon will decline, so as to warn the coming generations against jauntiness and arrogance.

Subsequently, the Fengshui master thought that the ox had two stomachs, and in the angle of the Fengshui, the moon pond was the Inner Yang Water, and it needs a counterpart of Outer Yang Water. After achieving the oneness of inner yang water and outer yang water, the residents would get achieved. Hence, South Lake was opened as the other stomach of Hongcun village. Impressively, a bridge crossing the South Lake looks like a launching arrow. It is built following the site of Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake, a classic view of West Lake Scenic Area of Hangzhou. The whole lake with the bridge seems a bow and arrow. South Lake shows the traditional aesthetics of ancient China, and it is rebuilt for three times.


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Writer: David from Seeraa International
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