Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui

Huizhou is a historical region in southeastern China. It equals to the southernmost part of Anhui province such as Huangshan City and northeastern Jiangxi province such as Wuyuan County. This region has gone through a long history since the 2nd century during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), thus cultivated splendid and unique culture.

Abundant ancient towns and villages in Huizhou region are well-preserved and maintain the original appearance and features, offering us a great opportunity to get to know this unique culture and the particular Huizhou style architecture. The most representative ancient villages must be Xidi and Hongcun villages in Shexian County, which was named together as World Cultural Heritage Site.

Ancient Chinese believe that a good site based on Fengshui principles (Chinese geomancy) can bring good fortune and improve their original environmental quality. Huizhou Architecture also attaches importance to Fengshui in choice and planning of a site, and interior decoration.

Under the guidance of Fengshui, for example, the site of village in Huizhou is often chosen at the foot of mountains and surrounded by waters; gateways of houses always face the south and avoid facing chimney or road, which is seen as bad luck.

Residential houses in Huizhou are dominated by gray-tile roofs and white walls. In many houses you will see one or more courtyards, depending on the status of its owners. Social status of merchants in Huizhou region was rather low, although they were rich. To increase prestige, many houses of local merchants boast some of the best carving and painting craftsmanship in decoration.

Inside the houses, wood carvings are plentiful for beams, handrails, and window frames, while brick carvings are found at the gateways and some exits within courtyards. Popular designs include animals, plants, and traditional graphics figures, which are usually based on classic stories and legends. In this way, Huizhou style architecture is development to great extent.

Archway is another indispensable form of architecture in Huizhou. Most local archways in Huizhou are constructed with stone rather than wood. Archways are often erected at the entrance of a village of a street. Traditional themes of these archways are righteousness, charity, and filial piety, as well as personal outstanding contribution to the government.

It is said that there remain over 100 archways in Huizhou. The seven memorial archways in Tanyue Village are among the most famous archways in this region, all are decorated with delicate carvings of traditional designs such as plants and animals.