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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.


Celebrating 100 years of dynasty-free rule in China

Posted: 03/28/2011 9:49 am

Depending on what side of the border you’re on, 2011 marks either the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China or the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty. There is no doubt that China’s last dynasty, the Qing, did come to a whimpering end in 1911 thanks to a gang of revolutionaries led by Dr Sun Yat-sen who believed China needed to modernize and introduce democracy. But after creating the Republic of China with a capital in Nanjing, the ROC itself was driven out of the Chinese Mainland by the Great Helsman, Mao Zedong, in 1949. So today, the ROC lives on in Taiwan, while China is governed by Chairman Mao’s successors.

Thus, the political sensitivity surrounding this year. Taiwan (and many overseas Chinese) see it as the founding of the Republic of China which has developed into a full-fledged democracy on the island formerly known as Formosa. Mainland Chinese see it in the first step towards their liberation under the Communist Party; that Sun Yat-sen believed China needed to be free of a feudal and unjust society. Thus, if subscribing to this point of view, Sun’s revolution was beginning of what we know today in China. Both sides certainly have their merits. In fact, the virtue of Sun Yat-sen is one of the only things the ROC and PRC can agree on.

Regardless, there are a couple of interesting exhibitions underway to take in some of this history. The Exhibition of the 100th Anniversary of 1911 Revolution is now underway at the Guangzhou Museum inside Yuexiu Park. It features a lot of the clothes worn by Dr. Sun and will be open until June 12.

The second exhibit is across the border in Hong Kong. It is at the Hong Kong Museum of History:

Celebrating the centenary of the 1911 Revolution, this exhibition showcases over 150 exhibits from Hubei Provincial Museum and other collections as well as historical images, videos and maps to illustrate this milestone in China’s modern history and also highlight the immense contribution that Hong Kong made to this revolution.

It will continue until May 16. Admission is HK$10 for adults, $5 for students, and free on Wednesdays if you can make it there mid-week.

If you are interested in the history of China, both of these exhibits would be well worth checking out.

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