Thursday, September 03, 2015

A visit to the Ou Yang Guesthouse

Through the gate with its faded murals and wooden carvings was an important part of Shaxi's history. This historical 103-yr old building was once a guesthouse as part of the tea-horse trail. It is a typical wealthy home of the era, with a grand carved gate and spacious main courtyard, surrounded on three sides with buildings and a wall on the other.

This screen wall, also known as a shining wall blocks out the afternoon winds. It also reflects the early evening rays, illuminating the main house just opposite it. On the screen walls a single Chinese character is portrayed, typically meaning fortune, longevity, or happiness.

Even now, the main courtyard is a central hub of activity for Bai families. 
Painted murals, wooden beams, and lattice windows abounded.

This second courtyard was used for the entertainment of guests. Concerts were often held here. Nearby were stables for the guests' horses.

 Most Bai homes were two levels. The upper level was used for storage and the lower one for family living space. I stayed in a different guesthouse, with my room on the upper floor. The foundation of a traditional Bai house was constructed from locally quarried rectangular stones weighing over 300 kilograms. Walls are made from mud bricks, sealed with a mud and grass plaster mix. A system of double brackets enable carpenter to construct without nails. 
Photos still are displayed on the Yang family altar, used for ancestor worship. I wonder how ornate this altar once was.

The Ou Yang guesthouse had several kitchens, one of which was used to cook food for the guests. This kitchen was still in use. Old, traditional cooking pieces were found, along with slightly newer ones. Walls were blackened from many years of cooking. A well in it still functions.

Read more about Shaxi Bai architecture.

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