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Maosheng Ancestral Residence in Henggang
Latest Updated by 2007-03-05 10:12:04

Maosheng Ancestral Residence, one of four Hakka residences in Longgang on the provincial cultural relic protection list, is unique because of its wide range of architectural styles.

Not far from Songbai Road in downtown Henggang, the weathered walls of the residence, hidden among banyan trees, remind people of the past glories of the hardworking Hakka people.

Listed by Guangdong Province as a protected relic in 1992, the residence occupies an area of more than 6,000 square meters on a rectangular patch of land. Similar to other Hakka buildings, it has a fengshui pool in the west and fengshui woods in the east to ensure good fortune for residents.

Even today, local descendants of the Hes, the original owners of the residence, light a lamp to honor their ancestors in the family temple, according to Deng Bingchang, who has been appointed by the local government to look after the building.

He Weisong and He Weibai, a pair of cousins, migrated from Xingning, Meizhou in eastern Guangdong to Henggang in 1780 during the reign of Qing Emperor Hongli (1736-1796). They started work on the residence, named after their successful business Maosheng, in 1800 and completed it in 1813.

Walls more than 300 meters long, seven meters tall, and 70 centimeters thick surround the residence. The walls are built using a mixture of mud, sand and lime, with red sugar and glutinous rice serving as glue. Black gun holes dot the walls, which once allowed snipers to fire back during battles.

Watchtowers are positioned on the four corners, a reminder of the Hakka people's strength in self-defense cultivated over the years of migration and a tough life away from their homeland.

Though a Hakka structure, Maosheng Ancestral Residence is outstanding as it incorporates traditional Cantonese architectural styles as well as Western styles in its buildings.

"This reflects the influence of Western culture on China's coastal regions in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is also proof of the tolerant attitude of Hakka people towards other cultural traditions," Deng said.

In the back row of the residence, there are the remnants of several former buildings. "The buildings were destroyed by the Japanese invaders in the 1940s," said He Jiarui, a man in his late 70s who currently lives in the residence. His father He Guozhang, an overseas returnee, built two European-style towers.

Ancestors of the He family have passed down five Spring Festival scrolls, which are still placed on the doors of the residence today. The scrolls mainly teach the descendants to continue the family traditions and build successful careers.

Folklore has it that the He brothers started their business producing liquor and tofu after migrating to Henggang. He Weibai often walked more than five kilometers to Yantian Port to sell his produce for a better price.

After Maosheng Ancestral Residence was completed, the He cousins had more than 10 rooms built nearby to serve as a school for not just their own children but the children of neighbors as well. The He family also donated money to build a 100-meter stone bridge across the Jiutan River for the convenience of the public, Deng said.

Editor: Donald

By: Source: China View website
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