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Who knew? Shenzhen does have some history

Posted: 09/25/2013 11:00 am

As an op-ed in Shenzhen Daily pointed out in 2011, Shenzhen is not just a 30 year-old cultural wasteland. The city has relics that show the first county was established here more than 1,700 years ago, and the first human activity here is known to have taken place 6,700 years ago, during the Neolithic Age.

An article in Shenzhen Economic Daily which listed five ancient buildings in the city has been doing the rounds on Sina Weibo. Here they are:

Crane Lake New Dwelling

Hehu Xinju, also known as Crane Lake New Dwelling, is the largest example of Hakka vernacular architecture in the country. According to the book Hakka Enclosed Houses, it was built in 1817 and is the ancestral house of the Luos which occupies an area of 2.5 hectares in Longgang.

Crane Lake New Dwelling, image courtesy of Sina Weibo

The Temple Guy blog describes it as being made of three central structures and two horizontal houses that are separated by walls. Inside the walls are found houses, halls, rooms and wells which are scattered evenly apart and are well preserved.

In 1996, the local government converted it into a museum dedicated to Hakka culture, which means visitors are free to enter most of the estimated 300 rooms.

Dawan Building

Dawan Dwelling, which is located in Pingshan Town and was built in 1791, occupies an area of 15,000 square metres and was the home of Hakka settlers.

Dawan Village, image courtesy of Sina Weibo

It was named a city-level protected heritage site in 1984 and a provincial level protected site in 2002.

Visitors to the dwelling get a good idea as to how the Hakka people lived in previous centuries.

Longtian Dwelling

Located at Tianduanxing village in Kengzi Town and built in 1837, Longtian Dwelling is the best preserved Hakka dragon house in the city.

Longtian Dwelling, image courtesy of Sina Weibo

There is a 16-metre wide pool outside, resembling a city moat. Such dwellings were built to be difficult to attack, which may be because in ancient China many exiles were sent to the south. For this reason, it appears imposing from the outside while inside it is very compact.

Dapeng Ancient City

Built in 1394, Dapeng Ancient City was built as a fortress from which Japanese pirates would be combated during the Ming Dynasty.

Dapeng Ancient City, image courtesy of Sina Weibo

In the early Qing Dynasty it became a naval base, playing an important role in the Opium Wars.

In 2004, it was named among the 8 most important scenic spots in Shenzhen, along with Dameisha, Xiaomeisha, and Lianhua Mountain.

Although people live in the city, much of it is extremely well preserved.

Xin’an Ancient City

Despite having largely been demolished and replaced with modern urban buildings, Nanshan District’s Xin’an Ancient City (also known as Nantou Ancient City) still boasts a number of historic buildings such as naval and civic headquarters, an opium den and even a brothel.

The area, which boasts 1730 years of history, is still the political, trade and cultural hub of Nanshan.

Xin’an Ancient City, courtesy of Google Images

According to research, what is now the southern part of the city was completed around 1394 under the rule of the Hongwu Emperor during the Ming Dynasty.

It was established as a county in 1573 under the Wanli Emperor and the city became known as Dongguan Castle. At that time, around 1,000 soldiers would be stationed there, commanded to protect the areas now known as Shenzhen, Dongguan and Hong Kong, according to James Baquet of Shenzhen Daily.

The castle’s gate still stands next to Zhongshan Park.


Everybody get wet! Dongguan set for annual water fight on March 13

Posted: 03/6/2013 7:00 am

If you’re going out in Dongguan’s Dongkeng Village on March 13 make sure your electronic devices are stored away and whatever you do, don’t wear white. On the second day of the second month of every lunar year, the city marks Body Selling Day (not what you think it is), of which the water fights are now the main part.

According to Baidu Baike, in ancient times peasants in what is now Dongguan would present themselves in the town square on this day to meet the gods. By the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a custom had developed in which those who did not own land would appear in the public square and bow down wearing bamboo hats. Those who owned land would come along and select who to employ for a year, hence the name Body Selling Day.

For reasons that this author cannot quite fathom, the main feature of the modern manifestation of Body Selling Day is a massive water fight in Dongkeng Village. The locals will make a killing from selling water pistols and water balloons, Dongguan Deputy Culture Minister Liu Cheng told Southern Metropolis Daily.

Remember what colour not to wear

Apparently it is good luck to both soak others and to be soaked. People form teams and it gets quite strategic. For obvious reasons, people wearing white are particularly popular targets.

Join a team if you don’t want to end up on the receiving end of this kind of treatment

The tradition is part of Guangdong Province’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, so if you soak an expat on that day, just tell them you are providing them with a free cultural experience.

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