Xidi and Hongcun
In Yixian County, not far from Huang Shan, there are two very interesting villages worth visiting: Hongcun and Xidi Village.
Hongcun Village is located at the foot of the southwest side of Mt. Huangshan, only 11 kilometres away from Yixian town. It is a unique, buffalo-shaped ancient village. The whole village covers an area of about 30 hectares, and is located at Mt.Leigang, facing Nanhu Lake.
The village is often represented as a cow. The erect Leigang Mountain is regarded as the head of the cow, the old green and shadowy trees are the horn of the cow and the long lines of buildings in the village are the body of the cow. The glittering lake symbolises the belly of the cow and the crooked manmade canals which run through houses are the intestines of the cow. Finally the four wood bridges near the village are the legs of the cow.
Of the rural residences, the Chengzhi Hall is regarded as a "rural Summer Place". It is beautifully engraved and embossed with gold and painted in bright colours. The Dongxian Hall is large and simple in design. The simple Guanyin Shop is deep in the alley beside the Cyan Stone Street. There are old trees and peonies with a history of over 100 years on Thunder Hillock. Green vines climb the wall and enter the yard of houses.
As the Chinese saying goes: "The wise enjoy the waters; the benevolent enjoy the mountains", as is definitely the case with Hongcun Village in Anhui Province. Located at the foot of the Huangshan Mountain, the village's construction has evolved around crisscrossing streams and a central lake. With its traditional buildings sporting whitewashed walls and flying cornices, the village is a refreshing stop for tourists on their way to Huangshan Mountain scenic resort.
While Xidi Village is notable for the many archways that line the road to the village. In the past, it was a status symbol of wealth and distinction to build grand archways, so the bigger the better. Because many rich merchants once lived here, there are scores of archways in this hidden area. Each archway is made of local marble and is carved in typical Anhui style, decorated with multiple reliefs.
The houses in Xidi are also remarkable because the local merchants, in order to protect their families and belongings from bandits, built their dwellings with very high walls and small, if any, windows. As a result, strolling through Xidi, one can feel the insular atmosphere that must have permeated throughout the village, especially when walking down the narrow alleyways between the walls of two dwellings. Within the walls, the exquisite woodcarvings and delicately created reliefs throughout the entire dwelling confirm the wealth of its owner and the opulence the family once enjoyed.