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Ancient villages in Shanxi: Xiwan village

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2015-08-06

Xiwan village is on the west bank of Qiushui River, one kilometer away from Qikou Ancient Town. It sits on the northwest near a mountain, facing the southeast, and was built on a rock slope. The village is in a narrow strip 250 meters long and 120 wide.

Ancient villages in Shanxi: Xiwan village

Ancient courtyards stack on a rock slope in Xiwan village, Shanxi province. [Photo/nlc.gov.cn]

Xiwan village is like a big compound linked by a row of small courtyards. Today there are over 30 intact courtyards in the village, connected by small gates. One can go through the whole village by walking straight through the northern gate.

Five vertical lanes, running south to north, join the whole village together. They reflect wuxin, or the five elements in traditional Chinese philosophy: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, They also stand for the five branches of Chen’s family, the owner of the village. The descendants from each branch live in their own lane, so it is easy to manage the big family and to extend the village in the horizontal direction.

Ancient villages in Shanxi: Xiwan village
Ancient courtyard in Xiwan village, Shanxi province. [Photo/nlc.gov.cn]

The courtyards are also connected in every lane, with stone walls and floors and gate towers for protection. All these ancient residences are courtyards with cave houses, and stacked together on the mountain; the roof of a lower stage is the yard of the upper stage.

Ancient villages in Shanxi: Xiwan village
Ancient courtyard in Xiwan village, Shanxi province. [Photo/nlc.gov.cn]

The ancient courtyards in Xiwan village were built near the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), and are among China’s largest ancient clusters of Ming and Qing-style residences. The village’s most prosperous period was Kang-Qian Flourishing Age, when Chen’s family was thriving. However, they were seriously destroyed by the Japanese aggression during World War Ⅱ, so the remaining ancient dwellings and lanes are valuable for arts and folk customs research.

Tips:

How to get to Xiwan village?

Tourists start from Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province, can get to Qikou town, one kilometer away from Xiwan village, and then walk to the village. Qikou town has minibuses to Taiyuan every day, departing at 5:30 and back at 12:30 from Taiyuan, and one-way trip takes three hours.

What to eat?

Local specialties such as braised potatoes, cold dishes and dishes made of carp and catfish from theYellow River are also the specialties cannot miss.

Where to stay?

Tourists can stay in a local home inn in Xiwan village or in a hotel in Qikou town, and the price ranges from 100 to 200 yuan ($16.1-$32.2) a night.

 

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