ultramarinus – beyond the sea

XIDI (西遞), Anhui, China

After Hongcun, we returned to Yixian by public bus.  It was mid-afternoon by the time we arrived at Yixian.  At Yixian’s bus station, we decided to switch bus to visit another UNESCO World Heritage Huizhou village, Xidi.  Similar to Hongcun, Xidi has a good amount of ancient architecture dated mainly from the Ming and Qing Dynasties.  Dated as far back as the Northern Song Dynasty in the 11th century, Xidi had been inhabited for almost a millennia.  Like Hongcun, Xidi has become a popular tourist spot in Anhui attracting loads of visitors during holidays and weekends.  We didn’t have our own transportation and had to rely on the public transportation.  As a result, we only had less than an hour of time wandering in the winding alleyways and visiting the magnificently decorated Huizhou houses of Xidi.

The most prominent feature of Xidi caught our eyes at the village entrance.  It was the majestic Xidi Paifang (牌坊) or Pailou (牌樓).  Named as Huwenguang Paifang (胡文光牌坊), the paifang was commissioned by the Ming Emperor Wanli to celebrate the good work done by Hu Wenguang, a government official originated from Xidi.  Three-tiered and four legged, the Huwenguang Paifang has become an icon for Huizhou heritage nowadays.

We quickly entered Xidi through its labyrinth of alleyways.  We entered a few courtyard houses along our way into the heart of Xidi, where the ancestral hall of the Hu family stood.  According to some accounts, the Hu people was originally descendants from the royal family of the Tang Dynasty.  After the fall of Tang, they changed their surname to Hu and gradually moved south.  They found the village of Xidi in Northern Song Dynasty and became a settlement of scholars.  At its heyday during the Ming Dynasty, the Hu people had turned themselves into successful businessmen, and transformed Xidi into a prosperous village.

We stayed in the Ancestral Hall of Hu’s for a while, checked out the nicely decorated timber halls and courtyards, before slowly finding our way out to the exit where the last public bus would take us back to Yixian.

1The open plaza and lily pond at the entrance of Xidi.

2The majestic Huwenguang Paifang, the only one of a dozen or so paifangs survived the Cultural Revolution.

3Stone carving details at the column base of Huwenguang Paifang.

4Beyond the Huwenguang Paifang lies the entrance into the village.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMuch of Xidi seemed like an extensive labyrinth of alleyways.

6Today, Xidi has become a tourist attraction.  Many houses have been converted into guesthouses and restaurants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInner courtyard or skywell of a family home with extensive wooden decorations and furniture.

8These semi-open courtyards or skywells present the lifestyle of the former residents.

9One of the courtyards we walked by was full of antiques.

10The detailed wooden carvings in each courtyard house revealed the former glory of Xidi.

11At the heart of Xidi stands the Hu’s Ancestral Hall.

12“Hu’s Ancestral Hall”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATimber columns and wall panels at Hu’s Ancestral Hall expressed an image of harmony.

14The courtyard of Hu’s Ancestral Hall was the biggest we visited in Xidi.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWooden furniture and traditional portraits were some of the most remarkable features in the courtyard of Hu’s Ancestral Hall.

16Villagers were using the forecourt of Hu’s Ancestral Hall for drying their agricultural produces, such as corn.

17Sun-dried peanuts and chili peppers.

18Near the exit of Xidi we passed by several squashes standing against the wall of a white washed wall.

* * *

Read other posts on 2015 Anhui and Hangzhou
1. History, Scenery, Architecture, 5-day tour of Anhui and Hangzhou, China
2. Laojie (Old Street), Tunxi, China
3. Hongcun, Anhui, China
4. Xidi, Anhui, China
5. West Sea Canyon, Huangshan, Anhui, China
6. From Monkey Watching the Sea to Welcome Pine, Huangshan, Anhui, China
7. Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China
8. Folk Art Museum, Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China

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