Wuyuan is located in northeast of Jiangxi Province. Their most predominant characteristics are villages typical of the Jiangnan area and ancient buildings of the Hui style of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). In recent years, Wuyuan has become one of the most popular tourist destinations.
“Against the backdrop of green mountains, ancient black and white buildings line the banks of the green river. For me, the view is like beautiful music transformed into a painting: undulating hills, streams whispering like lovers, typical ancient buildings of Hui style with white walls, grey tiles and horse-head walls”.
Located in northeast of Jiangxi Province, Wuyuan is honored as the “Most Beautiful Countryside in China” by Chinese National Geographic Magazine. As is written in the County Annals of Wuyuan, 85% of Wuyuan County is covered by mountains, 10% by fields, and the other 5% by rivers and villages. The most predominant characteristics of Wuyuan are villages typical of the Jiangnan area and ancient buildings of the Hui style of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). In recent years, Wuyuan has become one of the most popular tourist destinations. March-April is the high season there, attracting innumerable tourists to the sea of blooming rape flowers.
Approaching a village, the fragrance of rape flowers and the fresh earth along the road greet us. The deeper we drive into the mountains, the more fragrant the air. Turning corner, we suddenly see many people equipped with professional cameras standing by the guardrails on the roadside. We stop our car to see what they are doing. A narrow island is surrounded by two green streams, forming a crescent. This is the famous scenic spot “Moon Bay”. It is said this is music at a standstill. I didn’t really get it until I came to Wuyuan. Standing at a higher position above “Moon Bay”, I looked across the streams: against the backdrop of green mountains, ancient black and white buildings line the banks of the green river. For me, the view is like beautiful music transformed into a painting: undulating hills, streams whispering like lovers, typical ancient buildings of Hui style with white walls, grey tiles and horse-head walls.
Travelers in Wuyuan, find that beautiful scenery whenever they look.
We went on and soon got to Likeng village. Many villages in Wuyuan County have names with such characters as 坑(kēng) (hollow/meadow), 湾(wān) (bay) or 坞(wù) (dock), which relate to their location. The Likeng is so called because most of the villagers have the surname Li and the village is in a low-lying meadow (keng 坑).
Likeng is the village nearest to the county town, and the most representative village of all Wuyuan villages. Because of its easy access to town, it has become a “must-see” tourist destination. There are 260 households with about 1,000 villagers in Likeng. At the entrance to the village, there is a 1,000-year-old camphor tree. It is said that people will live till 99 if they touch the old tree.
All the buildings here are built along the stream bank; so, every house faces water and the doors of many village houses open directly onto bridges. About every 10 to 20 meters along the modest stream, there is a stone or wooden bridge connecting the households on both banks. Although the households are separated by the stream, the distance across is no more than 10 meters. People can be easily heard by those living on the other side of the stream if they talk loudly. On the riverbanks are narrow mossy stone paths. On the water, bamboo rafts provide transportation for the villagers and make travel here more fun. Interesting, too, is that many households still wash clothing in flowing water. Girls do the washing along the stream, spreading their colored clothes on the rocks and beating them with wooden sticks. If it were not for so many tourists and so much noise, people here would live a peaceful pastoral life getting up at sunrise and going to bed at sunset.
The spring weather in Jiangnan is changeable – sunny in the morning, turning to drizzle by noon. The stone path after rain reflects soft light. Teahouses on the roadside hang up strings of red lanterns, adding some bright colors to the black and white lanes. Leaning out of the window of a teahouse, you can see the flowing stream. Besides teahouses, there are old residences of many famous people. Knocking at a wooden door randomly, you may be told it is the residence of an official in olden times. It is said that, like Likeng, many villages in Wuyuan have been the hometowns of many famous scholars and celebrities since the ancient times. Wuyuan is said to be a place propitious for giving birth to great men in China.
Speaking of old residences, people will definitely think of the residential buildings in Wuyuan. Their exquisite nature can best be seen when up close. On the whole, the Hui-style ancient buildings in Wuyuan are exquisite, sturdy and impressive. Horse-head walls, black tiles and eaves carved with various patterns are characteristic of the buildings here. Due to wet weather and age, some white walls have become mottled, but with an unexpected effect like splash-ink landscape paintings. The exterior walls of ancient buildings are constructed of brick, while the interiors are mainly of wood. These ancient buildings were mostly big houses of merchants and government officials in old times. One of the important features of Wuyuan ancient architecture is that every house with a hall has a courtyard, and every house is decorated with wood carvings of great artistic value. The designs include flowers, animals, fretwork, etc.
Never showy, the ancient buildings in Wuyuan represent the pursuit of natural qualities, weather-beaten but still well composed and impressive. Like its architecture, Wuyuan is a place of simplicity and elegance. Here people tend to walk slowly, often stopping to appreciate the beauty of nature and the buildings instead of hurrying along.
Zhuangzi said, “The beauty of nature is beyond words.” Most human architecture scars the natural beauty of nature, but in Wuyuan, humans and nature live together harmoniously.
THE BEST TIME FOR TRAVELING
Late-March and late-November are best for photos of Wuyuan scenery. At the end of March, rape flowers bloom everywhere, and November is the best time for appreciating beautiful autumn views.
Wuyuan is located in mountain area. The temperature here varies greatly between day and night. It often rains; so be sure to bring your rain gear.
So called “red, green, black and white” are respectively red carp, green tea, dragon tail ink-stones, and Jiangshan pears.
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Magazine 14. Volume 3. May 2011.
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