Architecture China History

Yuliang Old Village

A ten minute walk away from Huizhou Ancient City (徽州古城), Yuliang Old Village (鱼梁古城) lies along the banks of Lianjiang River overlooking an ancient Tang Dynasty dam. I took a stroll through the narrow streets at dawn and found myself in a world which doesn’t seem to have changed much in the past hundred years.

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Crossing a small bridge, smoke was billowing out of charcoal braziers that locals wrapped in thick coats were tending outside their homes. Others were sweeping up dust from the beautiful zig-zag cobbled streets which ran the entire length of the street.

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The village was preparing for Chinese New Year, with red banners adorned with calligraphy hung beside every doorway and police ordinances pasted on the walls dictating where people could and couldn’t set off fireworks.

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Taking down wooden doors to hang banners on them.

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Yuliang Dam (漁梁古壩) was a marvel of engineering when it was built over 1000 years ago. Long granite slabs were interlocked together using intricately chiselled butterfly joints. Here boats loaded with goods departed to be traded across China, beginning Huizhou’s most prosperous period.

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Too many beautiful doors to count.

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Along one wall were lined a series of bird cages with two birds in each other. They were merrily chirping to each other, basking in the warmth of the early morning sunshine.

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Shizi Bridge (狮子桥)

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Early morning smoke.

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Chung Hau Temple (忠护庙)

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As you’ll have noticed from the photos, the population is decidedly on the older side and the simple lifestyle here probably isn’t what most young people would aspire to these days. However, there were signs of restoration taking place, and a visitor centre seems to be in the works. Hopefully, some new life will be breathed into the village without destroying the rustic charm which makes it worth visiting.

Originally from the UK, David is designer and wanderer currently based in Tokyo. Prior to this, he lived in China and still returns frequently to continue exploring this vast and varied land. He started Randomwire in 2003 to chronicle his travels and occasional musings. Feel free to drop him a line.

4 Comments Add New Comment

  1. This is something I personally don’t get to see much given I traveled mostly to big cities and popular spots in China. I really enjoyed this article, thanks so much for sharing David!

  2. Hello David…beautiful photographs. We met some years ago in Shenzhen, Coastal City, you had just been for a job interview in Hong Kong and I was with my friend Lin Rui. I’d lost touch with randomwire as my email address/server seems to filter out your notifications. On logging into my Flickr account for the first time in years, I saw your photographs. I very much look forward to reading through the randomwire accounts of your travels and experiences over the past few years. The composition of your pictures and the economy of your words is really effective in keeping the viewer eager for more.
    Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to attend the village wedding, (at a pig farm!), of two of my students from SZ in Jiangxi….then go on their honeymoon with them! At their insistence ! Over 10 days we drove around the north area of Jiangxi…staying in many small villages …not so far from Yuliang and Huizhou. As you mention, they still exist, I also noticed a subtle move towards a “cleaning” up and a tourism element. Jingdezhen is a fascinating place to see the different scales of porcelain production and history…from huge factories to single artisans.
    All the best. Marc

    1. Hi Marc – great to hear from you!

      Life in Shenzhen feels like a distant dream, one which keeps reminding me that we’re not getting any younger!!

      I definitely noticed the “cleaning up” going on around some of these old towns – I guess some of it is needed to maintain what’s there but I really hate it when they “restore” things which often means rebuilding a poor pastiche of what was once there.

      Keep in touch 🙂

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