Hongcun Village is a unique, buffalo-shaped ancient village. It has the reputation of "a village in the Chinese painting" and is listed as one of China's top 10 charming villages and together with Xidi Village which was added to UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List in 2000. Locate at the foot of the southwest side of Yellow mountain and not far away from Yixian County, lives a unique, buffalo-shaped ancient village—Hongcun Village (Chinese: 宏村; pinyin: Hóngcūn). It has the reputation of "a village in the Chinese painting" and is listed as one of China's top 10 charming villages and together with Xidi Village which was added to UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List in 2000.
Hongcun Village is backing on Mt. Leigang and facing Nanhu Lake. A mixture of clear creeks, morning mists, gray tiles, white walls, old houses, stone bridges, water lily ponds, and green hills makes the village elegant and attract a lot of directors go there to make films. The movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", directed by Ang Lee was filmed there, winning Oscars for the Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography categories. As a result of this, the village enjoys another name of "Residence Museum".
What makes Hongcun Village so unique is that the village was designed by a fengshui master to resemble a cow. The west end of the village, called Leigang Hill, resembles an ox head and that is where two huge trees stand like ox horns. At the front and rear of the village are four bridges that span a Jiyin stream and resemble four legs of the ox. The several hundred well-arranged houses form the body of the ox, and the 1,000-meter-long Jiyin stream that meanders through the village is regarded as its intestines. A crescent pond in the village is the ox's fourth stomach, and a larger South Lake is its reticulum, the second stomach. Both the crescent pond and South Lake are the most charming natural scenery. The crescent pond is as smooth as a mirror and retains verdure all the year round.
Hongcun is 18 kilometers away from Xidi(introduced later). The climates are similar.
Among the Folk Residences, the Chengzhi Hall is touted as the Folk Summer Place, which is engraved carefully and covered with gold and painted with colors. The Dongxian Hall is vast and simple. The moon Pond is as even as a mirror. The water of the Southern Lake dances and sparkles. The simple Guanyin Shop is in the deep of the alley and beside the cyan stone street. There are old lofty tree on the Thunder Hillock and peonies with a history of over 100 years. Green bines climb on the wall and enter the yard of domestic houses. The Xuren Hall and Shangyuan Hall, the ancestral temples, are strict. The Southern Lake Academy is given the words of "Yiwen Family School" on the stele by 93-year-old Liangtongshu, Shijiang (a rank in the court) of the Imperial Academy. All these constructions constitute a perfect art whole with the Jingxiu Hall and Sanli Hall. One step is one view; one place is one picture. At the same time, these constructions reflect wide and deep cultural inside information which is left by long history. Till the Qiny Dynasty, Hongcun has become a big village with over 1000 families. Long lines of houses looks like a big city. Until now, Hongcun is still the site of the People's government of Hongcun Town. It starts to develop at the middle of the 1980s.
Hongcun has the system of streets and alleys which looks like square net. The ground is covered by granite stones. The manmade water system through all families forms unique space of Water Street and Alley. The village centers on "the heart of the cow"- the Moon Pond which is a crescent-shaped pond. It's surrounded by houses and ancestral temples. It exhibits strong cohesion. There are 158 domestic houses in existence, which were built in the Ming or Qing Dynasty. 137 houses of them are in a good state of preservation. The buildings of the Qing dynasty own not only beautiful surroundings, but also logical function layout.
The structure is elegant and blends closely with nature. It creates a scientific living environment, which is also full of affection. It's one outstanding representative of China's traditional domestic houses.
Most villagers divert water in canals into houses, and forms "House Garden" and "Water Yard" which exist only in village. This makes the construction of Hongcun inaugurate the special house pattern of water-side pavilion of Hui constructions. Hongcun is an outstanding representative of Huizhou traditional local culture, building techniques and landscape design. It is full of much value of history, art and science. It indeed is the witness of Huizhou traditional architectural culture. Hongcun has been listed into the Contents of World Cultural and Natural Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The people of Hongcun built six family schools at the north bank of the Southern Lake. They were called "Six Schools Leaning-on Lake". They were used to teach and learn for the scion of a family. In the 19th year of the Jiaqing period of the Qing Dynasty (AD.1814), six schools were combined together and rebuilt. It was given a name of "Yiwen Family School", or "Southern Lake Academy". The academy covers an area of over 6,000 square meters. The buildings are tall and majestic, grand and wide. It's one architectural representative of ancient the academies in Huizhou style.
What to see in Hongcun Ancient Village?
1. Exquisite Three Carvings – Wood Carving, Stone Carving, Tile Caving
Wood carvings in Hongcun are carved out of good materials that are apt to be carved and have clear textures, e.g. pine, China fir and maidenhair tree; rosewood and nanmu are usually used to carve to be the decoration of top-grade furniture.
Stone carvings in Hongcun have been generally used in architectural decoration since Ming Dynasty. Most of them are used to decorate doors, windows, pillars, dolmens, bridge railings and steles. Among all of stone carvings in Hongcun, the Memorial Archway of Governor Hu Wenguang, the tracery at the West Garden and the stone-carving decoration inside the Chengz
Lexu Hall It's also called the Zhongjia Hall. It's the ancestral temples of Wang family. It lies in the center of the north bank of the Moon Pond. The Lexu Hall and the Moon Pond were all built in the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty. It has always been the place where Wang family offer sacrifice to their ancestors, celebrate and meet. The Lexu Hall is composed of three parts- gate tower, hall and ancestral temples. There used to be a tower at the back of the main hall. The brick carvings on the gate, wall and torii are very exquisite. The Southern Lake The Southern Lake is located in the due south of Hongcun. It was built in the Wanli period of the Ming Dynasty (AD.1607).It's a man-made lake, covering an area of 20,000 hectares. The whole surface of the lake assumes the shape of a huge bow. The bank of the lake located in the back of the bow can be divided into two layers. The upper is about several Zhangs (unit of length) wide, which is floored with slates and cobblestones. The lower is planted with poplar and willows. The Southern Lake Academy, the Yuwei Study of the Qing Dynasty and long lines of folk houses are located in the bowstring part. Moon Lake The Moon Lake has a history of 500-600 years. Originally, it's an active fountain. Spring issues forth continuously all year around. Until now, people still can see ducks play in the pond, breeze sweeps and wisps of smoke curl in the air.
Chengzhi Hall It's the provincial level key unit for cultural relics protection, located in the middle section of the canal. It was built in the 5th year of the Xianfeng period of the Qing dynasty. It's the house of Wandinggui, who was a great salt businessman in the later Qing dynasty of China. The Chengzhi Hall is vast and majestic. The structure design is perfect. It's well built and equipped. There are 7 floors, 9 dooryards, more than 60 rooms and 132 wooden pillars. The hall is mainly built with brick and wood, decorated with three kinds of exquisitely engraved things (stone, brick and wood). It's the classical work of old folk house of South Anhui. Lexian Hall It's provincial level unit for cultural relics protection, located in the main street of Hongcun. It was built in the 38th year of the Kangxi period of the Qing dynasty (AD.1699).It covers an area of 411 square meters and structural area is 958 square meters. It's one of three halls which were built by descendants of Wang family in Hongcun in the beginning of Qing dynasty (the rest two halls are the Sanli Hall and the Baoyi Hall). Deyi Hall It was built in the 20th year of the Jiaqing period of the Qing dynasty. It only covers an area of 220 square meters and structural area is 144 square meters. In this small space, it was built with the arrangement of garden-like structure, such as small pot gardening and big fruit tree. All these can be thought as a wonder.
Biyuan The Biyuan waterside pavilion is near the canals of Hongcun. It was built in the end of the Ming dynasty, but then destroyed. It was rebuilt in the 15th year of the Daoguang period of the Qing dynasty (AD1825). It covers an area of 278 square meters and structural area is 256 square meters. It's one representative of structure with waterside pavilion of the Qing dynasty in Hongcun. Qishu Lake It's located in the southeast of Hongcun. Walk upwards along the earth road at the east entrance of Hongcun. People will see green water is wandering on the right, and plants exhibit all kinds of colors. After walk for about half an hour, the surface of water becomes wide suddenly. This is the Qishu Lake. Now, it's a part of the East Red Reservoir.