Hongcun Village, China

In the summer of 2011, I was exploring China with a small group of trekking buddies. While waiting for the rain to die down, so we could climb Huangshan., we decided to explore a small village called Hongcun Village.

The Huangshan area map

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, Hongcun Village is renowned in China for its Huizhou-style architecture. Hongcun Village featured in the Oscar-winning Hollywood film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, directed by Ang Lee, following which the village became immensely popular among travelers. Hongcun is the subject of many Chinese paintings because of its beauty and charming landscape.

Hongcun Village, China 2011

(Pictured above and below), located to the south of Hongcun, “South Lake” was built in 1607. Old trees and weeping willows, with graceful branches and leaves, surround the lake. The lake reflects the sky and the surrounding mountains and houses on its pristine surface.

One of the bridges that cross the “South Lake” of Hongcun Village, China

Pictured below, built about 600 years ago, “Moon Pond” is at the center of the water system in Hongcun. The surface of this half-moon-shaped pond is as smooth as a mirror. The idea of a living environment that “man lives in harmony with Heaven” was the very scientific, esthetic and historical value left behind by the old water system of Hongcun.

The “Moon Pond” at Hongcun Village, China

Pictured above and below, there are ancient houses and bluestones around the pond. On the banks of the pond, you can find the old culture doing their thing. It is a good place to take beautiful pictures.

The “Moon Pond” at Hongcun Village, China

Pictured below, the alleys of Hongcun Village are intertwined in a zig-zag. They are raised or lowered, narrow or wide, creating an unpredictable patterns; a deep alley leads to the doorway of every household. The corner of an alley, with an arch overhead, enriches the layering of alleys and creates esthetic appeal of spatial vision.

The narrow ancient streets of Hongcun Village, China

Pictured below, the exquisite houses, ancestral halls and memorial archways were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1912) with recognizable white walls and grey slated roofs. Its unique architectural style is conveyed in plain colors but adorned with delicate carvings of various kinds.

Chengzhi Hall in Hongcun Village, China.

Pictured above and below, one of the best examples of the is the Chengzhi Hall constructed by a well-off salt merchant in 1855. My trekking group was able to catch a glimpse of the intricate woodcarvings and the impressive crossbeams, doors and windows, where five kilograms of gold powder was used during the construction.

A wood carving in the Chengzhi Hall of Hongcun Village

Pictured below, Guo Ziyi’s Birthday. Guo Ziyi (697-781), general of the Tang, who achieved many military deeds and who was deprived of his military power for several times. He had an open mind, exerting every effort while in power and seeking recluse when he is out of power. He lived until he was eighty five years old, a symbol of a man of great virtue and happiness. “Guo Ziyi’s Birthday” is a popular theme of art that propagates virtue and tolerance. In the carving, the shou (longevity) character plinth, and the furnishiings with the fu, lu and shou characters, deliver a message of fortune and longevity.

Pictured above, the Chengzhi Hall has skylights, so that sun, moon and stars, as well as rain and snow, come into the house, creating a picture of harmony between man and heaven. The rainwater sink receives rainwater, and water runs into the house, creating a picture of harmony pond, implying that “nourishing water shall never flow into the fields of others”, as water symbolizes wealth.

The mail “Hall” for the Chengzhi House

Pictured above, the main “Hall” of the Chengzhi House is tall, spacious and bright, with plaques, scrolls, scroll couplets and screen calligraphy or paintings covering the walls. The elders live in the back hall. In the middle of the long narrow table are placed porcelain images of happiness, wealth and longevity.

Map of the Hongcun and Mt. Qiyun area; (map taken from a flyer provided at the site)

Imaged above and nearby, my trekking group joined me on a exploration trip to one of top four Sacred Mountains for Taoism, “Quyun Shan”. Initiated by Zhang Daoling in the East Han Dynasty, Taoism is the local religion of China that distinguishes from the Buddhism introduced from foreign countries. Imaged above, it is located 15 kilometers to the west of Xuining County in Anhui Province. It is world-famous for its long established Taoism culture, magical and unique “Danxia” landscape, beautiful petroglyphs, poetic and picturesque rurality of mountains and rivers.

General Public Tourist map of Qiyun Mountain

In Chinese, Qiyun literally means high as the clouds. Qiyunshan is a less famous attraction in comparison to Huangshan but much effort is put into preserving the Taoist culture on this mountain. Called “Balyue” in the history, Qiyun Mountain got its name for its piercing through the sky and leveling with clouds.

My trekking buddy, Mike Stevens and I are climbing Qiyan Shan staircase, China 2011

The Qiyan Shan scenic park covers 110 square kilometers and the natural protection zone 150 square kilometers. With an elevation of 585m(max), this mountainous area has been designated as national forest park.

A trekking buddy and interpreter, Cui Lee, stop to take a break at the Feiyan Pavilion on Qiyun Shan, China 2011

The Danxia landform of Qiyun Shan is mainly developed on the red granule conglomerates of middle Cretaceous, which is controlled mainly by three faulted zones. Danxia landform means that it “consists of a red bed characterized by steep cliffs”.

The Xiaohutian Archway on Qiyan Shan, China; Inscriptions found under the archway.

During the Cretaceous period, this area firstly experienced massif subsidence to become a continental faulted basin, then having thick Cretaceous red sediments accumulated on it. In the supervened neotectonism, this area experienced an uplifting process, which made the thick Cretaceous sediments into a mountain with an altitude of 600 m.

Xiangla Peak at the Qiyun Shan Forest Park and Taoist Mountain, China

After undergoing the processes of vertical joint development, weathering, denudation and transportation, as well as evidently differential weathering and denudation influenced by lithology and structure between sandstone and conglomerate, the grand Danxia landscape consisting of peak forests, steep cliffs, caves, mesas, castellated peaks, natural bridges and so on formed. Pictured above, The peak is tall and in the shape of an incense burner, so it is called as the Xiangla Peak (peak in the shape of incense burner).

Below the Xiaohutian Archway in a cave

Famous for its mystery, beauty and uniqueness, Qiyun Shan (Mount) has been compared with Huang Shan. It was a bright pearl on the our China itinerary. Pictured above, there are many caves under the cliffs. These caves are used to enshrine various statutes of immortals, including the Eight-Immortal Cave, the Yuantong Cave, the Arhat Cave, the Yujun Cave and the Wenchang Cave.

The Yuxu Palace on the Cliff. Our destination.
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