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--Nanshe Ancient Village in Dongguan
Latest Updated by 2004-01-12 18:30:20

Nanshe Ancient Village, dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, is located in Chashan Town of Dongguan City.  The village is laid out symmetrically like clasping palms and surrounded by trees.  With talented people coming forth in large numbers in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Nanshe became a prosperous and famous village in Chashan.

Now there are 25 ancestral temples and over 200 local-style dwelling houses in Nanshe. As recorded in the Clan History of the Xies at Nanshe Village, Xie Shangren, whose father Xie Xiling was born in Huiji (now called Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province), struggled to move southward because of the social chaos caused by war and eventually settled down at Nanshe. Through 700 years of development in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Xies saw a boom and built up the village that covers an area of 67,903 square meters.

Nanshe Ancient Village is enclosed by fortified wall. Centering round a rectangular pool, all the houses were built on sides of the pool according to the natural landscape of the hills. All the lanes in the village are planned properly with sufficient security and defense facilities. Being composed of dwelling houses, ancestral temples, academies, shops, pavilions, fortified wall, wells, lanes and memorial archways as well as a number of old banyan trees, Nanshe Ancient Village is exhibiting the typical architectural style of Pearl River Delta. The considerable number of well-protected buildings constructed in the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty show high historical and artistic values. The vivid carvings on stone, brick, wood, lime and pottery in these old buildings are extremely charming. The most famous spots are the fortified wall, the Grand Memorial Temple of Xie Clan, the Temple of Hundred-Year-Old Man, the Archway of the Hundred-Year-Old Couple, the Ancestral Temple for Xie Yuqi's and Zizheng Mansion (or Governance-assisting Mansion)
Most of the dwelling houses have three rooms and two corridors. Each of the ancestral temples is consist of three parts, while the smaller family temples have two parts with houses around courtyard mainly in architectural styles influenced by east Guangdong, Anhui Province, Hunan Province and even western countries.

The following are the details of some sites at Nan She Ancient Village of Ming and Qing Dynasty:

(1) The Ancient Fortified Wall
Built in October of the 17th year of the reign of Emperor Chongzhen in the Ming Dynasty, or A.D. 1644, the Fortified Wall was 998.25 meters long originally. It bottom half was constructed of tamped earth or red stones, on which stood altogether 21 towers, each built with gray bricks and having its own style and couplets. The Wall succeeded in stopping invaders Li Wanrong, who led a 7-day siege in the 5th year of the reign of Emperor Shun Zhi (A.D.1648), and Liu Jin, who attacked the village in the 10th year of the reign of Emperor Kang Xi (A.D.1671). Now only a few passages of the old wall and a couple of towers remain.

(2) The Great Ancestral Temple for Family Xie
The courtyard is divided into three parts, each part with three rooms. Fine craftsmanship is shown on pottery carvings in the ridges of the first hall, lime carvings on the ridges of the second and the third, and wood carvings on the eaves. The hip-and-gable roof of the temple is rare in Dongguan area. Now the original censer is still well preserved in the temple. So are stone inscriptions first made in the 34th year of the reign of Emperor Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty (A. D. 1555).

(3) Temple of the Hundred-Year-Old Man
The stone tablet of Narration on the Temple of the Hundred-Year-Old Man, which dates back to the 23rd year of the reign of Wanli of Ming Dynasty (A.D.1595), told such a story that to memorize the hundred-year-old man Xie Yanqing, his house was re-built into a temple. The foundation of the deity and red-stone carvings on the tablet are of the typical Ming Dynasty style.

(4) Archway commemorating the Hundred-Year-Old Couple
During the period of the 20th to the 26th year of the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty (A.D.1592-1598), both Xie Yanjuan and his wife aged over 100, Magistrate Li Wenkui of Dongguan county reported that to the imperial court and a family temple named Archway commemorating this Hundred-Year-Old Couple was granted to build. Front part of the building consists of 3 three-storey archways with gable and hip roof. Ru-yi bucket arches under eaves, Buddha carved in the wall with red stone as the base,and woodcarvings on the beams are exquisite. The building is designed as a mix of archway and temple. In 1993, it is listed as cultural relic under municipal protection.

(5) Ancestral Temple of Xie Yuqi
Xie Yuqi ranked the 42nd in the highest imperial examination for warriors in the 4th year of the reign of Tongzhi of Qing Dynasty in the lunar year Yichou, and was assigned as aide-de-camp of Grand Secretary Zuo Zhongtang. After putting down a rebellion following Grand Secretary Zuo in Xinjiang district, his meritorious military service brought him to Garrison Commander. In the 27th year of the reign of Guangxu Period of Qing Dynasty (1901), to commemorate Garrison Commander Xie, a temple was built. The temple contains two courtyards, with inward-facing houses on four sides and flush gable roof. Gilt woodcarvings and stone carvings on the beam, as well as pottery models on main ridge are all very elegant. On the first vertical ridge (for gable roof) vivid clay models of characters and animals has a rather high artistic value. In 1993, it was listed as cultural relic under municipal protection.

(6) Zizheng Mansion (or Governance-Assisting Mansion)
It is the academy of Mr. Xie Yuanjun, who ranked 99th in the provincial imperial examination for warriors in the 2nd year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu of Qing Dynasty in the lunar year Bingzi (or A. D. 1876), and granted chancellor of Ministry of Rites. The academy, constructed of blue brick and marble, is divided into two parts, each part with three rooms, with a corridor across the square courtyard. The woodcarving of vault in the parlor of back part boasts high artistic attainments. Besides, doors and windows were decorated in a western style.

(7) Typical Folk House
Dwelling houses in Nanshe, including residential house of Mr. Xie Ruliu are generally consisting of three rooms and two corridors. Xie Ruliu was graded as Warrior Candidate in the 6th year in the reign of Emperor Guangxu E (A. D. 1880). Compared with the family temple, the layout of dwelling house is simple and practical. However, they also feature clay models, woodcarvings and stone carvings.

Editor: Catherine

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By:Wen Qingfang Source:South CN
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