Hutong is a kind of special old lane in Beijing. It aapeard in Yuan dynasty in Chinese history, and was originated from Mongolian language. It means water wells in Mongolian language. There are thousands of Hutong around the Forbidden City. Most of the residents were from the royal families. For the shabby Hutong, they were usually far away from the south and north of the Forbidden City, and most of the residents who lived here were common residents.
The main buildings in Hutong are quadrangles. It is a kind of building, which is formed with room, west wing room, principal room and connection room together; there is also a kind of certain rules for the residents in quadrangles. Generally speaking, gate building was use for storage, reversely- set room is the place for childrens living; principal room is the best house. So only the owner of the house of the eldest son can live there. In order to get more sunshine, quadrangles were usually situated in the north and towards the south. Some of the Quadrangles were towards the east and the west for the convenience of contract. There are also small lanes besides the wide Hutong.
The whole city is just a big quadrangle.
Before the end of Qing dynasty, china was in the backward feudalism.
People usually think that business is a kind o f poor job. SO Beijing was a kind of free and indulging city for the emperor as well as the royal family and the main place were focused in Hutong. For this reason, quadrangle is a shadow of life-style and society in that period. With dynasties went on , the closed quadrangles were influence? by the foreign culture . most to the newly built were no linger tidy. The condition of Hutong change from prosperous to backward.
This is a certain period of Hutong with the dismiss of feudalism.
Hutong is not only the main layout and passages. It appeared after the formation of city. Correctly speaking, it appeared after Beijing formed the capital of the Yuan dynasty, and the development of the city is the sign of society. In this way, Hutong recorded the change of history, and it also inscribed the culture of life, just like a display of common peoples different life style in different dynasties.
There are six different types of Zhaimen(residential gates), each defined by the presence-or absence Cof specific small features: the width of the gate, the number of hexagonal nubs above the door ,characters carved into the doors, steps, ramps or door piers, the presence of ornate brickwork, the design of the roof spine ,horse mounts and hitching posts. These details, including a specific architectural facade known as the Western gate that had nothing to do with compass dirction, evolved well into the 20th century.
One of the coolest features of courtyard entryways are the door piers known as mendunt. Architecturally, mendunt were the mounts that secured wooden doorframes to residence walls.The baseboard between mendunt forced you to step over it-and also kept out malign inflrences,since those that didnt fly only srolled their feet.
Mendunt were created in two symbolic shapes. Round ones represented drums and meant the owner had military connections; rectangular ones were belts connoting scholar officials size mattered, the bigger the door pier, the more important the occupant. Art motifs bewn in stone hinted at the profession of the occupant, while ones with a lion on top indicated royal blood.
Spirit screens, or Yingbi, were a form of home perfection-they warded of evil spirits(which could only move in straight lines)and also helped maintain privacy from prying eyes. There are two basic types of spirit screens. If you were really important ,the wall on the opposite side of the Hutong from your front door was a huge Yingbi. The other category, inner spirit wall, is subdivided into the stand-alone version and those designed as part of a greater wall feature. Many stand-alone screens, like the one pictured here, were incorporated into Zayuan structures.
Horse Mount (Giddyup?Gemenri)
So youre standing in front of a particular home and spot a shangmashi(literally, mount horse stone)-the sure sign that this was the laor of a big time political player. The rock blocks allowed the user to take a big step towards heaven, and they were cansidered rare even among the privileged in Manchu Beijing.
Touch BeijingHutong Depth tour:
Hutong tour Ctrace the steps of ancient Beijing
1) Take the traditional tricycle (two people one vehicle) from the starting pint of Hutong trip, which is about 100 meters on the west side of north gate (Back gate) of Beihai Park. With the leading of the guide, you will reach the first station, the Drum tower, tour the drum tower and enjoy the Drum beating show
2) Leave the Bell tower, go through Hutong by bicycle and visit along Shichahai, and get off at Yinding Bridge
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Walk in Hutong with strong local color, listen to the stories and legends of Hutong and Quadrangle, experience the traditional life style, or you can step into a Beijing natives family , where you will learn more about the Beijing folk customs.
At last, you can take tricycle to the Garden of Price Gongs Mansion, which is known as Red mansion grand view.Then you will be transferred back to the starting point. The whole visiting time is about tow and half hours. The price is 180RMB each person.