China trip – Southern Anhui Province – Xidi

Beautiful town gate with lake and mountain

Beautiful town gate with lake and mountain

The ancient villages of Southern Anhui province are considered a world heritage site. Among them, Xidi’s Ming dynasty charms along with the stunning setting were enough to make me promise myself another visit one day. These villages are living museums (you pay a fee to enter) with on the one hand ancient infrastructure and architecture and on the other, people going on about their daily lives in a perfectly modern way (in amongst all the tourists).
Xidi’s beautiful gate is the first monument you see when you enter the village and the last when you leave…

Courtyard, water vessel and view to lake through entry

Courtyard, water vessel and view to lake through entry

Courtyards…

View through village wall to water garden

View through village wall to water garden

A charming gate leads back out of the village to a water garden and, across a narrow neck of land, vegetable plots.

Water garden and view back to village

Water garden and view back to village

Classic Ming dynasty roof top profiles… and communications towers.

Alley of Xidi

Alley of Xidi

Narrow curving lanes wander between the ancient buildings – there’s just enough space for scooters!

Typical residential entry courtyard - looking up

Typical residential entry courtyard – looking up

The residences still have traditional woodwork at the front courtyard. Often, the family still lives in the building. Tourists come and go freely but respecting that access is only if the gate is open and only to the front courtyard unless invited further.

Beautiful residential entry court - mossy garden

Beautiful residential entry court – mossy garden

Love these mossy gardens!

enjoying another lush entry garden

enjoying another lush entry garden

Caught on camera  by my friend as I soaked up the ambience.

Roof top view

Roof top view

Many of the people living in the village clearly make their living in one way or another from the tourists. There are small shops selling handicrafts and local tea etc. Others will prepare a home cooked meal for your lunch at a reasonable price. The view above is from the roof top of such a home. After selecting what we wanted from the fresh local produce in her kitchen, our hostess encouraged us to enjoy the view from the roof while we waited for lunch to be ready.

Art students everywhere!

Art students everywhere!

These villages are great beauty spots in China and as such attract art students from all over the country. School was just over for the year so there were many taking advantage of the break or on group trips.

photos (cc) 2013 Hilary Farmer except #8 (c) 2013 Merlyn Foo

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4 Responses to “China trip – Southern Anhui Province – Xidi”

  1. Looks like a beautiful place! Looking at the woodwork on the balcony, at first it seemed vaguely geometric (in the Greek sense) but if I look more closely I swear I can see swastika, both right and left-handed! It’s a very ancient symbol, monstrously misappropriated in the 20th century, and it wouldn’t surprise me if something about the basic motif of a cross with bent arms was built in to our idea of an “interesting” but easily realized pattern.

    • Interesting… it was an ancient Buddhist pattern and no doubt goes back even further. Perhaps this decorative motif marked the residence as belonging to Buddhists or it may have been seen as a more general symbol of good fortune,

    • Such an icon of hatred in the Western hemisphere, and yet a symbol of something completely different in the Eastern one. It’s one of those symbols that make it obvious how each hemisphere is generally unaware of the other’s cultural heritage.

      If one could apply the concept of “false friend”, not in linguistics, but in culture, I would say the swastika would be an example of it.

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