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Ding Family Village
Perhaps the oldest residences in Shanxi are those in Dingcun or "Ding
Village" in Xiangfen county. Of forty designated structures, ten have
halls and courtyards that were built in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries during the Ming dynasty with two complete dwellings said to
date to the Wanli period (1573-1620). The earliest siheyuan, dated to
1593, is located in the northeast part of the village and preserved
characterstics of Beijing-style residences: an entry gate of the
southeastern wall, a spirit wall, a rear-facing daocuo, a colonnaded
south-facing bay-wide Main Hall, a pair of flanking side rooms three
bays wide, and brick kang beds.
The second-oldest, dating from 1612, was built with two courtyards
and associated structures, but today only fragments remain. Some
dwellings may be older although they have undergone such modification
that they do not represent Ming styles. For the most part, Ming
dwellings are characterized by relatively simple siheyuan quadrangles
that conform to the sumptuary regulations of the times.
While some of the Qing-period dwellings in Dingcun are uncomplicated,
others involve receding and interconnected courtyards wth substantial
attention to hierarchy and the separation of outer and inner realms.
Local historians attribute the survival of fine examples of Ming and
Qing dwellings not only to the remoteness of Dingcun from the past
centuries' tumult but also to family inheritance practices that
demanded shared ownership. When two brothers divided their father's
real estate, one would take an "upper" share and the other a "lower."
This horizontal division worked against any one individual's desire
to demonlish and rebuild without the consent of the other. In 1985,
six contiguous dwellings built between 1723 and 1786 were designated
as the "Dingcun Folkways Museum," reputedly the first such
specialized museum in China.
3 mars 2006
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