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Dang's Siheyuan courtyard

The Treasure of Folk Communilty, Dangjia Village
The Dangjia Village is located about 9km northeast of hancheng, Shaanxi,1.5km from the state road No.108 and 3.5km from the Yellow River.
The village, mainly consisted of two coans of Dang and jia, has 320 families with a population of over 1400 villagers and a history of about 670 years.


'Siheyuan', a courtyard house, is a typical representative of Hancheng's traditional house building in Dangjia Village.
Hancheng was called "the small Beijing"of shaanxi province during the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty.
Meanwhile, Dangjia Village, "the small hancheng"of it.
Chawey, profesor of the British Royal Architectural a cademy, once said,"The architectural Academy, wrote in his book," I have been to more than ten countries of Europe.
Asia, America and Africa, but have never seen the wall-preserved ancient and traditional folk community with so compact,layout, meticulous workmanship,simple and unsophisticated view and a long-history cultural atmosphere.
Dangjia village is the living fossil of the ancient and traditional folk community of the orient mankind.
Walking on the stone-coveredalley in Dangjia Village, one enjoys watching variausly great portico,elegant mounting-horse stones and tying-horing rings,imposing and harmonious"Siheyuan",exquisite carving of wood, stone and brick, the profoud carving on the lintel and the wall and the relief sculpture. All of these show an epitome of the Chinese culture.
The well-planned defensive system, including Watching-building, Qinyangbao fortress,city wall and double-layer wall, has been a positive factor for the survival of the ancient house building in Dangjia Village through handreds of years. One must be surprised to see the solemnly memorial Pishengzhu and the goreously Chaste and Undefiled stele.
Dangjia Village enjoys a proper lacation with a beartiful environment.
The Village had handreds of "Siheyuan"in its full bloom during the later Ming dynasty and the early Qing Dynadties.
People sill live and work in these ancient courtyard aeneration after generation.
Mr.Li Ruihuan, one of the leader of our country, once, joyfully praised Dangjia Village"The Treasure of Folk Community".

Peaceful and beautiful environment, compact arrangements, and the Wen Xing Pagoda, Dang Village, Hancheng.

Now a valuable source for research by those who are interested in the culture, art and science of the periods during which the community thrived, the village attracts many visitors. Here they find what the Chinese authorities have defined as a 'gem of domestic architecture' and what one Japanese expert described as a 'living example of an ancient and traditional folk community of oriental mankind'. It has also attracted the attention of an eminent British professor who is quoted as saying 'The architectural culture of oriental housing is in China and that of China is in Hancheng'. This statement confirms the importance of the heritage to be found in this locality.

As you approach the village the first building to catch the eye is the six-storey high brick built Wen Xing Pagoda. With its wealth of carvings on its brickwork the pagoda dominates the skyline. Walking along the stone pavements of the lanes running through the village, you will discover that the grandeur of the pagoda is set off by the splendid gateways leading to the many courtyard houses. The decoration and inscriptions each tell the visitor something of the wealth and artistic taste of the master of the household.

The inscriptions on the lintels over the gateways each have a special significance and these fall into three main categories:

1. Symbol of the Sept: A sept is a branch of a clan; one of a group of families descended from a common ancestor and as such has its own symbol illustrating its history.


  Gatehouse

2. Symbol of Position: A prosperous merchant or administrator would be granted an official status according to his responsibilities and this would be denoted by a specific symbol.

3. Symbol of Belief: This often takes the form of a proverb or some other statement of the philosophy of the head of the family, basically a family motto that sums up its attitude and approach to life. The object always is to impress the visitor with the prosperity and integrity of the family.

So as to emphasise the importance of these symbols a famous calligrapher of the day would be employed to complete them. As a consequence the inscriptions on the many gateways are fine examples of classical handwriting that show a range of qualities from the bold and vigorous to smooth and elegant, each in their own way adding something to the status of the family represented by them.

The houses consist of four units that are built around a courtyard. These take the form of the Hall, which is the main structure and which is set opposite the smallest unit, the Gatehouse. On either side between the two are wings that provide the family accommodation. The Hall, the tallest of the units, would form the north side of the quadrangle and so have a sunny southern aspect. The gatehouse on the south side would face to the north and the two wings would face into the courtyard from the east and west respectively.


  Gate lintel inscription shows the official post of the host.

The buildings are of timber with green bricks used in the walls with gray tiles for the roofs. The walls are decorated with carving both in the brickwork and the timbers. As with the symbols on the gate, these carvings indicate the wealth and importance of the inhabitants. The houses have two storeys; the ground floor providing the accommodation while the upper floor being used for storage. Overall, the principle of building houses in this manner ensures security, comfort and privacy while also protecting the occupants from the worst excesses of the climate, as all the windows would face into the courtyard. The courtyard may also have a garden.

The village as a whole was protected by strong defensive system that incorporated a double-layer wall with watchtowers and a Qinyangbao fortress. At the height of its prosperity there were hundreds of courtyard houses and many watchtowers overlooking the many lanes between them with the result that the village was similar to a castle. Sadly, many of the watchtowers have been dismantled but a fine example still stands in the center of the village.

This living reminder of the past, situated on the rich and fertile loess plain welcomes the visitor with whom it is pleased to share an insight into its fascinating history.

Admission Fee: RMB 20
Opening Hours: 8:00-18:00 (April 1st - Oct 31st)
8:00-17:00 (Nov 1st - Mar 31st)
Recommended Time for a Visit: 1 - 2 Hours

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