Articles on Chinese Architecture and Urban Planning – reposted by T.E. Yu
A tale of two very wealthy villages (China Daily) 08:Weng Lei for China Daily 03, April 27, 2012
Rows of villas line the street in Changjiang village, Jiangyin, East China’s Jiangsu province.
As China still marvels at a small oasis of prosperity and comfort created by its richest village of Huaxi, a powerful competitor has unintentionally stolen the limelight by giving each villager two 100-gram bars of gold and silver.
In mid-March, Changjiang, several hours by car northwest of Shanghai, fulfilled a promise made in 2009 to hand out the valuable metals, worth more than 40,000 yuan ($6,350), to each of its 2,858 permanent residents.
The gift, made in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the village-owned Jiangsu Xin Chang Jiang Group, drew enormous attention at a time when China’s widening income gap and unfair wealth distribution increasingly cause social problems.
Recent polls by major Chinese news organizations showed that narrowing the income gap is seen as the highest priority topic that must be addressed by the country’s leaders.
Yet Changjiang, a 6.5-square-kilometer village not far from the urban center of Jiangyin, seemed untouched by the problem and to be moving toward a utopia where residents share in the common prosperity.
Apart from the gift of gold and silver, residents said they have enjoyed a long list of benefits, including subsidized villas that were sold for 68,000 and 198,000 yuan starting in 2000.
“How is that different from a free handout?” asked Zhang Rongxian, a resident, showing the strikingly similar two-story villas with spacious courtyards.
Other benefits have included occasional handouts of cash, shares in village companies and annual dividends, as well as a quota of free water, electricity, gas and food coupons every month.
ICCR notes :
The above example of a ‘wealthy village’ is too dense. A really wealthy area would feature similar but single villas surrounded by 8 empty lots around the central ‘villa’.
Or even 34 lots around the central ‘villa’ empty to be at par with the ‘Half Acre’ Garden concept of the ancient Chinese era. Or even several acres of estate with an outer wall. Then that could look wealthy. Space means wealth. Density means poverty. Look up the term ‘McMansion’ and understand why the above is not ‘wealthy’. Also why build western style villas at all even? Build Half Acre ‘Siheyuan’ instead. This is NOT the West, stop imitating Western architecture.
Please continue reading below link for the 5 Jin ‘Half-Acre’ Siheyuan.
General Description of Siheyuan . . .
Art historians describe the development process of the ‘Scholar-Garden’ ensconced within the ‘Half Acre Garden’ as a social one.
During the 16th and 17th centuries after the literati class-meme stabilized further among the wealthier horticulturists (vegetable farmers of great wealth with plenty of time to spare), the ‘literate and culturally aware landowner’, made popular inroads into the mindset of the local merchant class, the scholar-garden in attempts to cultivate relationships among the literati, slowly lost all vestiges of horticultural production to become a purely aesthetic affair, a trend of which extant Half-Acre Gardens are clearly a part. The Scholar-Garden did not remain primarily a place of scholarly seclusion, as the scale and showiness of some Half-Acre Gardens makes apparent.
Thus from being able to just set up a Half Acre Garden, the owners now had to also tell apart conspicuous consumption in ‘vulgar’ Half Acre Luxury-Gardens from authentic Half Acre Scholarly-Gardens. This became a practice in observation, skills of nuance, and eventually exclusion among contemporaries who were wealthy literati, merely literati and merely wealthy posing as faux-literati of means.
The study of congruity and placement of exotic looking gnarled stones (Fantastic Stone Culture), and ‘Garden Art-Sculpture Chinoiserie’ (carved-fitted replicas of well known Imperial architecture in marble, agate or if wealthy, semi-precious stone) among aged and highly cultivated plants to which only the study of history, well known poetry, fengshui, confucianism, bagua and taiji on which thousands of texts were eventually written, became part of the process of the separating the ‘literary-wheat’ from the ‘wealthy-merchantile-chaff’ in society.
Those who made or were born into wealth, scored high marks in the Imperial Exams or were reknowned writers and scholars from their works, were sought out by Imperial Palace officials for inclusion or fetting into (via awarding of appropriate title to be formally recognized and acceptable to the insular apex caste demographic) and formation of suitable circles of an aristocratic community for the notoriously insular centuries old familes of chinese nobillity to associate with, as well as for recruiting bureaucrats of ethical and principled character by.
While the wealthy sought land and cultivated their scholarly skills, the landowner cultivated scholarly skills, also the poor scholar who came into or cultivated wealth – all these groups would thus in time and cultivation be elevated to aristocracy, and would in the past after several generations of continued success, be inducted into the circles of nobility associated with the Imperial Palace of the Forbidden City which the ICCR currently represents and attempts to revive, via informative consultation with the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference (CPCC).
Editing and contribution by Temporary Consul S.L. Choy – West Nusantari Chapter of the ICCR
Please feel free to order a copy of Vol.2 of the ICCR Gazette where a small several page feature on Siheyuan can be found.