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NingHai·China Tourism Key Point Of Interest
Qiantong, Ninghai is a special ancient town

Release date:2015-05-16Browse times: Size:[ big middle small ]

Qiantong, Ninghai is a special ancient town in the south of the Yangtze River. About 10 km from the NinghaiCity, it has convenient transportation because Yong-Tai-Wen Expressway has an exit near Qiantong. Among the 2000 household here 80% of them have “Tong” as the surname. As it is located in front of BaixiRiver, it is so named Qiantong (“Qian” means “Before”). Since more than 760 years ago, the Tong’s offspring have lived in this place. Many of the old houses maintain their original appearances as in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

 At the end of the Song Dynasty (420-479) the ancestors of the Tongs came to this land and were attracted by it. They decided to settle here and then built a village. Since then it has been named Qiantong. The village was built on the basin among two mountains and two rivers. The former refers to TashanMountain in the east and LushanMountain in the west; while the latter refers to BaixiRiver in the south and LianghuangRiver in the north. The Tongs ancestors, who were very good at geographical surveying, chose this place as their home, because they like BaixiRiver running past the village. Originated from TiantaiMountain, the river passes the village by its front and runs into SanmenBay. For generations people in Qiantong village watered their land with the water from the river. Their ancestors also introduced the river into the village, following the principle of the Eight Diagrams of Chinese Taoism, and built Water Eight Diagrams there.

 The Village covers an area of only 2 KM2. with a dense population and close buildings. There are pebble pathways, folk houses, old streets and an ancestral hall. The mainstays are the ancestral hall, old houses and old streets.

Tongshidacitang (Tong’s Ancestral Hall): Built in the 18th year of the Hongwu Period (1386), the early years of the Ming Dynasty, it was said to be designed by the famous scholar Fang Xiaoru himself. Covering an area of 1.2 Chinese mu(0.08 hectares) , it is an enclosed grand quadrangle. Its layout, from south to north, includes the gate, stage, yard, east and west wing rooms and central room. The style of its watchtower followed that of the ImperialCity in the Ming Dynasty and it is still in a good condition.

At the gate of the Ancestral Hall there are two pairs of rectangular granite flag post clamps. In the days of offering sacrifices to their ancestors or in the festivals dragon flags were highly hung on the posts and the sounds of drums and trumpets called on Tong’s offspring to the square before the Hall.

The central room of the Ancestral Hall is very spacious. The 32 large pillars in the room are like 32 chess pieces, which imply that offspring of the Tong should unite and take overall interests, rather than local interests as the most important thing. It is the place for all the Tong’s families to get together, to offer sacrifices to their ancestors and to hold ceremonies. On the beams are hung some boards. In the middle is hung the board with words “Shilimingzong” (Famous Family of Literary Scholars) written by Fang Xiaoru, a great scholar in the Ming Dynasty, who started school for the offspring of Tong’s family in “Shijingjing She” (House of Stone Mirror), Qiantong. This board shows that Tong’s Families paid much attention to education and training of their offspring. In the hall there is a “Tablet of Ancestral Teachings” set up in the third year of the Daoguang Period (1823), the Qing Dynasty, which tells their offspring to “study for the prosperity of the family” and “be educated in the interest of the family”. Not only Tong’s ancestors paid much attention to education, but also tong’s offspring like learning very much. From modern to contemporary times there are more than 400 famous scholars, experts, artists and high-level intellectuals of Qiantong origin. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, among the 20,000 people of the town 660 persons have graduated from secondary technical schools and 350 from various colleges. There are also 10 persons with doctor’s degree.

The Ancestral Hall also has a room for pictures and objects which show the long history and brilliant culture of Qiantong. All these furniture, kitchen utensils, clothing, farming tools, living utilities and stone windows with carved designs display the unique features of Qiantong culture. Walking on the narrow streets and small lanes, you can see the hollowed-out stone windows with carved designs, which can be rated as consummate work of art and the characteristics of East Zhejiang architectural art. Being buffeted by wind and rain for several hundred years these over 200 reddish brown stone windows are still smooth with clear designs. Every window has a different design which shows the special charms of oriental culture.

Wufumen (Five Happiness Gate) is a typical ancient house in QiantongTown, which is locally called “Wufumen”. It was built some time in the period of Jiaqing (1796-1820), the Qing Dynasty. Its characteristics are its walls, doors, windows and dou.

The tall horse-head walls give an impression of loftiness and dignity. This kind of wall is a mark of the social positions and wealth of those high officials in the south of the Yangtze River. The higher the rank and the more powerful the person is, the more the horse-heads they would have on the walls. There are four words carved in relief: “Qunfengzhanhu” meaning the layers of upturned eaves looking like the tablets the royal court officials held before the chest when received in audience by the emperor. They look as if they were worshiping the throne-like ShijingMountain in the opposite. This implies that the owner of the house would be always loyal to the emperor.

Today, what a tourist see in the Qiantong old town-the winding pebble-paved paths, old courtyards, carved beams and painted rafters, the weathered stone mortar, water basin, carved handrails, the 600-year-old well and others, makes him/her think of the historical vicissitudes and rich cultural buildup of this place. One will surely soar the sentiments about the past. Many movies have been shot in this place, including the new movie Music Box produced by the late artist and director Chen Yifei, which have vividly depicted the charm of the old town.

Every year Qiantong will hold big lantern show ---- “Yuanxiao Party”. People will carry old drum pavilions and platforms with children standing on the platforms, dressed as different characters of the plays. Accompanied by the sounds of gongs, drums, firecrackers and air guns they will go all over the village to celebrate the harvest and commemorate ancestors’ merits of building water conservancy. On that night all people, young or old, will come out into the streets for the celebration. These antique drum pavilions and platforms are the relics of the Ming and Qing dynasties.