My nieces returned from visiting our Chan ancestral village at Lianjiangli, Enping.
From the attached photos of the village, I noticed that the "front" of the houses facing the road do not have doors. Rather, all the front door entrances are in alleyways. Is this common practice in the Siyi area villages? Does anyone know the reason for this? Would it be for better protection against bandits/thieves (before diaolou were built) who would have to traverse down these narrow alleyways making it difficult to fight against defenders?
Also, many villages use the grey brickwork for construction. Does anyone have any idea how old these homes might be, as they do not look very old compared to ancient homes in other villages.
Lastly, I would greatly appreciate a translation of the characters on the village entrance arch.
I did some digging on the internet for answers to my questions above and found this info:
Here is a fascinating explanation for orientation and layout of Guangdong villages based on weather and environment, as described in
Geo-Architecture and Landscape in China’s Geographic and Historic Context: Volume 2 Geo-Architecture Inhabiting the Universe: By Fang Wang
In Guangdong, the village was laid out in a comb or grid pattern. The villagers ingeniously take advantage of wind pressure and heat pressure to solve problems of ventilation. The typical comb-shaped village layout includes a pond or paddy field at the entrance of the village, surrounded by groves or bamboo as background. Natural breezes bring cool air from the pond to the lanes, alleys and patios inside the village. The spatial change from open land to dense village results in an imbalance of air density, which generates wind pressure and forms an exchange of air between adjacent spaces.
Meanwhile, the cool space formed by the pond, trees and field, with the heated space formed by roof and wall can generate an automatic exchange between cool and heated air to enhance the natural ventilation. Inside the village, isolated houses with open-air lanes also make use of the wind pressure for ventilation. Under calm wind conditions, the streets receive more sunlight than lanes because of their larger area in daylight. As a consequence, the street air inflates and generates lower pressure, creating an air flow from lanes to streets.
However, at night, when lanes lose less heat and retain higher temperatures, the lower pressure in the lanes than in the streets will reverse the air flow from streets to lanes. Consequently, when the entire village faces a static wind, the comb-shaped distribution generates wind in the lanes and optimizes ventilation, which can improve the interior environment of the buildings in the humid subtropical monsoon climate. Whenever there is a slight wind passing by, the alleys, which like comb teeth lie parallel to the wind direction prevailing in summer, will accelerate the wind speed and cool the village temperature.
The heat and abundant rainfall in summer around Guangdong district have led most rural villages to adopt the traditional comb-shaped layout, maintaining cool lane space, which accelerates ventilation and allows the entire village to adapt to the regional microclimate
On windy days, the narrow lanes will accelerate wind speed, which helps in lowering the general village temperature, whereas on days with no wind, the dense and cool air in the shade, under the building eaves and high enclosure walls, will form an exchange with the low-density heated air, replacing hot air with cool air in the rooms connected with lanes.
Aside from the emphasis on ventilation and drainage reflected in the residential building distribution and orientation. In summer, the climate in the Guangdong district is hot and wet, with heavy rainfall. Many rural areas have adopted the comb-shaped building distribution as a method for optimizing ventilation and cooling in the humid subtropical monsoon climate. The layout of the building group helps to create a pleasant living environment that is simultaneously fuel-efficient, low-carbon and ecologically friendly".
With regard to my question on the age of the grey brick used in village houses, here is an answer from an article By Patricia R.S. Batto: "The Diaolou of Kaiping (1842-1937)"
"The grey brick Diaolou: Grey bricks were commonly used at the end of the Qing dynasty, and had great aesthetic appeal. The walls of the diaolou built in brick were forty to fifty centimetres thick because brick is not as strong as rammed earth but is well suited to the humid climate of the region. Some diaolou are built entirely of grey brick, while others have grey brick on the outside and rammed earth on the inside. Like the diaolou built of stones or rammed earth, the grey brick ones generally have two or three storeys, but their design is less simple"
So if I am not mistaken, it appears that many ancestral village houses may have been rebuilt in the early 1900s, as the Qing dynasty ended in 1911. Any comments are welcome.
Post by lachinatown on Dec 15, 2018 21:53:24 GMT -5
連江里 Lian jiang li (written from right to left) The blue sign says the same, except included the village character 村 cun. Below the main sign is either another name for the village or another village within the village. Little hard to read, maybe 文明村 Wen ming cun (meaning Civilized village). The vertical couplet too hard to translate. Maybe a more educated person can do it for you.
During my recent visit to my ancestral village early last November, you could go down one alleyway and enter a door into my cousins’ house, then exit the same room through another door into an adjacent alleyway. The alleyways ran parallel to each other. Additionally, in this front room, there was a ceiling opening to allow for additional ventilation. This ceiling opening did not appear to have a glass cover, so I’m not sure how mosquitos were kept out (my cousins no longer live in this ancestral house at they married and moved to nearby towns). So, even though it was still hot outside, my cousins home was very pleasantly cool. I noticed that houses have high ceilings which also aids in cooling. So no need for air conditioning.
Here in Louisiana, they have what we call “shotgun” houses built before air conditioning was available. These were simple single story wood houses with one door in the front of the house and a direct straight line to a door in the back of the house. The term “shotgun” house referred to being able to fire a shotgun and the bullet would travel in from the front door and exit the back door in a straight path. Anyway, this allowed the breeze to flow through the house to cool it. The wealthier people with money built normal large homes with tall ceilings which allowed rooms to be cooler.
It’s interesting that cultures thousands of miles apart had somewhat similar concepts to keep homes cool in the hot weather.
Hi Ian, from what I've read the ceiling opening that you spoke of is called a Tianjing (天井) or literally Sky Well. My gf's house had one of these through the patio floor with a containment area and drain below in the main room. You can read about this feature in the book Chinese Landscapes: The Village As Place. If you open the link in Google Chrome, page 100 in preview Chapter 6 mentions this. Strange but previews in other browsers hide this page. Chapter 6 also provides good insight into village layout similar to what you alluded to in your earlier post. In terms of mosquitoes my understanding is that, unlike modern times where we keep them out of our houses, our ancestors typically only used mosquito nets around their beds to keep them at bay while sleeping.
Thank you for your interesting information. I also did notice there was a containment area with drain in the floor at my cousins house, but with my spoken Cantonese being so pitiful, I could not communicate sufficiently to be able to ask how it functioned and the purpose of the ceiling opening directly above it.I had so many questions while we walked around the ancestral village but it was difficult communicating. With my cousins English being very minimal, some how with difficulty,, we could generally get the gist of what was being said but only in rudimentary ways. To hold a meaningful conversation was almost impossible. Normally, you learn your mother tongue by listening to your parents speak but with my dad passing away when I was 5 years old, there were no other Chinese in our town in the middle of nowhere in Africa for my mom to continue speaking in Cantonese, so unfortunately I lost that “golden window” of learning.
Anyway, back to the subject matter...I opened the book link above but it only seems to cover Chapter 1 (about 15 pages). Are you able to copy and paste the text you referred to, for the benefit of the forum members.
I think if you quote sentences of the article and also acknowledge that author, it may be acceptable protocol.
On the subject of brick for the village houses, I was not able to find a YouTube video of old brick making techniques in China. The nearest I found was one from Banglesdesh for hand made bricks. I would presume the technique would be similar for hand made Chinese bricks in days of old. Apparently hand made brick techniques have been around for thousands of years. Below is the Youtube link. I am typing this on my iPad so I hope the link works
Hi Ian, did you try the link in Google Chrome? Using Chrome provided preview chapters 1, 6, 7. Using the link in a Microsoft browser like Edge seems to give you just the first two chapters. Also works on my Samsung phone. There are 12 pages in Chapter 6, all of which are probably of interest to you. You can also check out WorldCat.org to find it in a library near you. Of course you may need to wait until the COVID restrictions are lifted.