hongcun

Hongcun: The Ancient Chinese Village That Inspires Art

hongcun ancient village
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This beautiful and ancient village lies at the foot of the jagged Huangshan mountains, and is best known for featuring in one of our all time favourite films, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  When you think of what an ancient Chinese town would look like, you would probably picture Hongcun.... narrow cobbled streets with streams running down the sides, tiled grey rooftops which curled at the edges, white-washed buildings with chipped away paintwork, all mirrored against water to make a stunning picturesque scene.  Well this is Hongcun, it's charming, it's beautiful, it's relatively quiet and relaxing.  It has tourism for sure, but there are still quiet pockets to be found where you can catch locals washing their greens in the streams.  Many people actually live here and carry on their day to day lives as normal; growing vegetables, transporting goods by horse and cart or moped, preparing their dinner on the streets.  This small village is one of the best examples of Anhui-style architecture (Anhui is the province it's situated in) and is a protected UNESCO world heritage site.  

Many artists flock to the streets to paint and sketch what's in front of them, as the village makes such a rich feast for the eyes, and there are several art shops where you can pick up all sorts of materials including brushes, inks, pencils and charcoal.  Feeling inspired, we invested in some black ink, fine liner pens and a couple of sketch pads and decided to hit the village!  

This is the scenic spot we chose as the focus of our sketching, situated on the bottom of the South lake facing the edge of the village.

This is the scenic spot we chose as the focus of our sketching, situated on the bottom of the South lake facing the edge of the village.

Here's Mark hard at work on his masterpiece!

Here's Mark hard at work on his masterpiece!

We did cause a bit of a stir with the Chinese tourists.  We get a lot of attention at the best of times being European travellers and people regularly stop us to chat, take photos, stare and giggle.  Having sat down to create a piece of art, well people were naturally even more intrigued and so we were trying to sketch whilst surrounded by about 10 people!  One girl even asked to keep Ali's artwork before she had finished it!  Of course we found it all very endearing. 

Mark presenting his final piece...

Mark presenting his final piece...

And Ali presenting hers....

And Ali presenting hers....

'Hidden Ninjas ascending rooftops', by Mark Fowler 2017

'Hidden Ninjas ascending rooftops', by Mark Fowler 2017

'Anhui', by Alison Fowler 2017

'Anhui', by Alison Fowler 2017

A day trip to Hongcun is possible via Tunxi (Huangshan city) and takes around 1.5 hours by bus and costs 240 yuan one way.  There is also the option to stay in Hongcun village in one of the many hotels or hostels, which is arguably a nicer way to get to know the ancient village.  We stayed for 2 nights, and got to enjoy a quiet morning stroll before the tour groups arrived, and the cobbled streets illuminated by lanterns in the evening time.  We would recommend staying at Old House Youth Hostel which is in a nice quiet street in Hongcun village.

What did you think of our artworks? Send us your thoughts below in the comments box!

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ViDEO

Check out the scenic rivers and waterways of Hongcun in our travel video....

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