2015年3月12日 星期四

Huang Shan. 4 (黃山之四. 古徽州市府)

The Huang Shan National Park originally formed part of the area under the jurisdiction of  Huizhou town (徽州府). But it could never forget its heritage. Perhaps even more likely, it could not resist the lure of the tourist dollar which could be generated from both its natural and historical heritage. Hence the local government decided to change the name of the town to Huang Shan and restored its ancient municipal government building complex here together with its surrounding protective walls.

The old city wall of the ancient Huizhou town, which first started life in the Qing Dynasty (秦) in BC 221 as She County (歙縣) , was  given township status as Shezhou (歙州) in the Sui Dynasty (隋) (581-619)  which in AD 1121 during the Song Dynasty (宋) was renamed Huizhou (徽州 ). So this old town, one of the best preserved in the whole of China, has been around for some 1,400 years! According to the explanations accompanying the Guided Tour Map of the old town, the main tourist attractions here are: the Hui Government Building (徽州府衙), the East Watch Tower (東譙楼) , the South Watch Tower ( (南譙楼), the old town wall (古城牆), the Stone Memorial Gate of Xuguo (許國石坊), the Doushan Street (斗山街), Zhongshan Lane (中山巷), The Memorial to Tao Xingzghi (陶行知) Memorial Museum , the 2 residences of the Cao clan(曹氏二宅), Taibai Tower (太白楼), the Xin An Memorial Park (新安碑園) and Yulang Ancient Street (漁梁古街), the 2 Song Towers (宋代二塔) and 3 Ming Bridges (明代三橋). But we did not have time to visit them all.

One of the old streets in the area, now turned mostly into shops. The old city wall can still be seen in the background.

This is the famous Yanghe Gate (陽和門) which literally means "the gate of sunny harmony", to the north of the entrance to the seat of the old municipal government

The town is famous for its memorial gates (牌坊): it claims to have the largest number of such memorial gates amongst Chinese towns

One of the memorial gates before the entrance into the old municipal government building complex

The words "Huizhou Fu"徽州府 is written across the entrance to the ancient government building complex

The East Watch Tower above the inner city wall

The other side of the East Watch Tower from inside the city walls

Once inside the gate, there is a vast open space before one reaches the seat of the local government. Any government proclamations would probably have been announced to the towns folk here

This is the entrance to the street of memorial gates: right in front is the famous Huguo Stone Memorial Gate (許國石坊) built in 1584 during the Ming Dynasty, which though carved in stone, follows the format of the traditional wooden memorial gates with 4 pillars and 3 roofs, unique in China. It's built in memory of a Ming scholar called Huguo (許國)( 1527-1596), who was appointed the Secretary of the Department of Li (禮部尚書) doubling up as Master Scholar of the East Building (東閣大學士). Imperial permission was granted for this memorial gate to be built for the contributions he made as strategist for quelling the rebelling in Yunnan Province at that time.

What is emphasized is his status as "The Master Scholar"

The words "Honor and Favor" (恩榮)  were framed by two dragons, symbolizing the Chinese emperor, protected from the elements by the small roofed structures above

 The foot of 4 of the 8 pillars was protected by a carved lion, playing with its cub

Many of the old buildings in the ancient city have been given a facelift but in accordance with the ancient architectural style, at least as far as the roofs of the partition walls are concerned

People selling preserved diospyros (literally "god's fire") (柿餅) and tea leaves from Huang Shan.

and traditional peasant herbal tonic made from pears

Pear tonic from one of the local herbal medicine shops

A corner house of brick and wood with tiled roofs

A peculiar local custom for protecting the handle-bars of the scooters with special or adapted clothe-like cotton-quilt coats which one finds over many such scooters

This is another make-shift coat for the scooter: looks really like someone lying on it!

One of the old folks taking a morning stroll along the street

A peasant woman from a nearby village selling her own fruit: strawberries and mandarin oranges, vegetables etc

The entrance memorial gate of the Old Doushan Street

Another archway at the other end of the street

Words denouncing landlords and intellectuals and other "counter-revolutionaries" written on this wall during the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s have now been scraped off

But not all evidence of such irrational behavior can be completely erased.

Old windows covered over by gauze

A carved stone decorative feature usually found at side of the main entrance of big mansions is left lying in front of this house. This is what is left of an archway built in 1650 to commemorate the "fidelity" and "chastity" of a certain Madam Huang who committed suicide by rejecting food rather than remarry after her young husband died in battle: one good healthy young life wasted after another. One may well wonder whether male values or feminine vanity is worth that much.

The trellised windows on the verandah of of the residence of the an illustrious family in this part of the old town

An old cabinet inside the house

What's left of an elaborately carved old wooden lantern case

Ming style wooden furniture in the sitting room

A statue of Confucius inside the hall with a wooden plague over it which was a gift to the family from the emperor at the time

 One of the connecting doors joining two interior courtyards

There's a in the middle of pool inside the courtyard and potted plants around it

To one side of the interior courtyard are placed a table and two chairs where in summer the scholar and his friends can peruse or discuss ancient scripts over a cup of freshly brewed tea from Huang Shan.

A special half table against the wall for a potted plant

Above the entrance of some of the houses in this old streets, one can still find what remains of the painted picture pictures with poem

Another such entrance but the metal door now replacing the old style wooden doors doesn't seem to fit in at all

Some entrances have got tiled roof over them

This one has got a two tiered split tiled roofs as protection

There are some steps to mount before one can reaching the entrance to this house

On the side of this house are the words: "the two words "peace" and "safety" are worth a thousand taels of gold"

Like other Chinese everywhere, many families deliberately inverted the placement of the word "Fortune" over its front entrance to make visible the "fact/wish" that fortune "has/may" "arrive(d)" as the sound of the word "arrive" is a homonym of the word "invert". It's a popular custom of Chinese people to have things around their house during the Chinese New Year the sounds of which are homonyms of other "auspicious/lucky" words eg. the sound of "new year cake" (年糕) is similar to the sound of "year high" ( 年高).

The statue of Tao Xingzghi (陶行知) a native of Anhui Province, a famous Chinese educator of modern China in the museum built in his memory

The seat of the ancient municipal government of Huizhou whose entrance is guarded by two stone lions

the city wall leading to the watchtower

A view of the town from the watchtower

Another view from the watch tower looking back at the seat of the municipal government

The interior of part of East Watch Tower is now converted into a tea house 

This is the entrance below the South Watchtower, supported by 24 wooden pillars built during the Sui Dynasty

A view of the South Watch Tower. This concludes our tour of the old city. We'd be brought to see an ancient dam next.