-
Advertorial
-
FOCUS
-
Guide
-
Lifestyle
-
Tech and Vogue
-
TechandScience
-
CHTF Special
-
Nanhan
-
Futian Today
-
Hit Bravo
-
Special Report
-
Junior Journalist Program
-
World Economy
-
Opinion
-
Diversions
-
Hotels
-
Movies
-
People
-
Person of the week
-
Weekend
-
Photo Highlights
-
Currency Focus
-
Kaleidoscope
-
Tech and Science
-
News Picks
-
Yes Teens
-
Fun
-
Budding Writers
-
Campus
-
Glamour
-
News
-
Digital Paper
-
Food drink
-
Majors_Forum
-
Speak Shenzhen
-
Business_Markets
-
Shopping
-
Travel
-
Restaurants
-
Hotels
-
Investment
-
Yearend Review
-
In depth
-
Leisure Highlights
-
Sports
-
World
-
QINGDAO TODAY
-
Entertainment
-
Business
-
Markets
-
Culture
-
China
-
Shenzhen
-
Important news
在线翻译:
szdaily -> In depth
Village protection plan preserves ancient culture
    2017-December-26  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

ONCE, all the houses in Zhoucheng Village were traditional properties, with three rooms and a screen wall forming a courtyard, an age-old architectural characteristic of residences of the Bai ethnic culture.

Now, just four houses in the village, home to 2,500 households in Dali, Yunnan Province, still maintain the traditional style, while the others have either lost their traditional structures and decor as a result of renovation work, or have been demolished to build new houses. The process took just 10 years.

To make matters worse, some newly built houses are just concrete boxes that lack any local cultural characteristics, according to Duan Shusheng, deputy director of the village committee.

Zhoucheng is just one of hundreds or even thousands of traditional Chinese villages that have seen traditional residences fading away, while many face a far worse situation — they are disappearing, as younger, able-bodied residents move away to seek work in big cities, leaving the elderly behind.

Although, Zhoucheng was listed as a National Traditional Village in 2012, the deconstruction of its old residences happened around 2007.

As living standards rose, a growing number of villagers wanted their homes to be upgraded. There were no bathrooms in the old houses, but some villagers wanted them, along with larger kitchens, Duan said.

However, it’s more cost-effective to build new houses than renovate the old ones; it costs 30,000 yuan (US$4,400) to add a bathroom onto an old home, but only 1,000 yuan a square meter to build a new house, he added.

Some families demolished their old houses to build new ones mainly because there wasn’t enough space in the old houses to accommodate the growing number of family members. Many said they would keep their old houses as long as they could obtain land on which to construct new ones. However, the village couldn’t offer them the land, according to Duan.

Though dismayed by the situation, Duan is happy to see a growing awareness among residents of the need to protect traditional architecture.

“More villagers now choose to build new houses in the traditional style, and some only use traditional materials,” he said.

Lack of support

The lack of financial support and low awareness about preservation among villagers have exacerbated the problem, said Jin Hongna, an official with the Yunnan Housing and Urban-Rural Development Authority, who is overseeing the protection of traditional villages in the province.

Every traditional village will receive financial support of 3 million yuan a year from the government. However, the money is not intended for the protection and renovation of the villagers’ houses, but for infrastructure upgrades, including roads and waste and sewage treatment facilities, Jin said, adding it’s difficult for the government to become involved in the protection of privately owned houses.

“With poor ventilation and limited access to sunshine, living conditions in traditional houses built from wood and earth cannot be compared with those in modern, concrete houses. Without financial support, it can be hard to persuade the occupants to preserve their houses just by telling them the old properties are valuable,” she said.

So far, the protection of Shaxi, an ancient township in Jianchuan County, Yunnan, has succeeded in the face of new challenges.

Shaxi was once an important hub on an ancient trade road from Yunnan to Tibet. The township fascinated members of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 2000, when they participated in an investigative tour led by local officials. In 2002, the institute, based in Zurich, and the Jianchuan County Government jointly launched the Shaxi Rehabilitation Project.

Yang Huiming, head of the township’s cultural preservation department, said the Bai ethnic group has a tradition of dividing houses and passing them on to descendants, which helps maintain the properties as no one member is allowed to sell or demolish the houses without the approval of the other residents.

Initially, almost all the villagers were doubtful of the protection project because they thought poor living conditions were normal in these types of houses. “Nobody thought these houses were valuable because they didn’t benefit from living in them at all,” he said.

Zhang Jizhi, deputy director of the Jianchuan tourism commission, said sweeping changes happened after the local government bought some of the houses and brought in businesses to demonstrate how they could be put to practical use and improve livelihoods.

According to Zhang, many villagers only understood how valuable their houses were after the businesses began to attract tourists, and they have become “proactively” involved in protection efforts: “Some villagers have transformed their houses into guesthouses and transformed themselves into businessmen.”

Yang said the ancient township now faces new challenges because the number of tourists sometimes exceeds capacity, or some businesspeople damaged the structure or style of some ancient houses when they renovated them.

Experts said the lack of national protective mechanisms and the long-term negligence of rural development also produces challenges for the preservation of traditional villages. (China Daily)

深圳报业集团版权所有, 未经授权禁止复制; Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.
Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn