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 Despite the late administrative construction of Xianning (prefecture-level city), the counties and urban districts under its administration all have a long history. The territory of today’s Xianning belonged to Jing Chu in the Xia and Shang Dynasties ( about 2200-1100 BC), Nan County in the Qin Dynasty(221-206 BC ), [more]
Century-old mansion, Century-old hardships 07-04-18





      Reported by Han Mei and He Cheng (

  Century-old mansion

  Looking through this window carved one hundred years ago, the elderly man Xu Sheng is chatting with his loved ones.

  Ancient blue-green slate is telling the things happened one hundred years ago.

  In the mountains of Tingsi Town, Xian’an District, there is an ordinary village called Daqiao (Big Bridge). In the village, there quietly stands a  hundred- year-old mansion.

  After 144 years of exposing to winds and rains, the old house still maintains its unique style. It stands in the small mountain village and is still the shelter of six households.

  It is said that this house was built by predecessors of one of the six households and was sold to a now centenarian elderly man Xu Sheng about 70 years ago. Not long before, he celebrated his one hundred years birthday here.

  In April 13th, with a curiosity to explore the history of this one hundred years old mansion, the reporters paid it a visit.

  Early in the morning, the reporter drove to Daqiao Village, Tingsi Town. After asking the direction several times, they found the road to Team 7. Down the road of only two or three meters wide, painstakingly, the reporter finally saw this one hundred years old mansion 13 kilometers away.

  When the reporters came to the doorway, Zeng Xianli who lives here was taking a walk in front of this mansion and he is Xu Sheng’s grandson.

  Under his guidance, they arrived at the Xu Sheng’s room which is about 18 square meters with a simple neat wooden bed with mosquito nets hung up. While outside the sun is shinning, the light in the room is not very strong. If you stay here for a long time, you will feel a little bit chilly. The opposite room is Mr. Xu’s kitchen. Mr. Xu insists on his own cooking all the time. On the first and fifth days of each month, he only eats vegetables. In the kitchen, there is a kettle that has been burnt all dark and two pots. In addition, three cabinets are placed here and some kitchen utensils are laid in the cupboard. Mr. Xu sits on the wooden tabouret and chats with his sons and grandchildren in the kitchen. Not chatting long, Mr. Xu leans on a crutch to walk around. His little feet are especially robust when he is walking on the slates that have experienced one hundred years’ history...

  The external part of the old mansion is inconspicuous. On each side of the door, there is a block of stone about half a meter high used as a seat. The words written on the porch have blurred. The house is a triple room style of the Qing Dynasty. From the front door directly to the back door there are two patios. On each side of the room there is a small patio and then a new house appears on both sides when you walk towards outside. Reporters carefully counted. There are a total of 30 rooms including a toilet and there are many twists and turns. Faintly visible figure drawings were carved on the beams and other places. On the back of the room, there are seven or eight holes out of four tiles for ventilation and light transmission. On the edge of one of these holes, intact decorative patterns have retained. An ancestral temple stands 100 meters away behind the house to worship ancestors of the past dynasties.

  Zeng Guanghu is 85 years old now and still lives in this mansion. According to his recall, this mansion was built by a predecessor called Zeng Daosheng. During the Daoguang era of the Qing dynasty, Zeng Daosheng and his brother engaged in medicine business in Hang Kou. They were good at manaBaoshient and later they opened Zeng Daosheng Chinese herbal medicine shop in Shen Jixiang, Hanzheng Street in Wuhan City. After saving a certain amount of money, the two brothers built this mansion in Tingsiqiao town, Xianning city. But when the house was just completed, the cargo ship which the two brothers took capsized in the Yangtze River. Only Zeng Daosheng was rescued but he died shortly after.

  According to Zeng Guanghu, his grandmother’s second son was about to marry but had no money to prepare betrothal gifts, so his grandmother decided to sell the houses located at the back to Zeng Xianli’s predecessor. Zeng Xianli’s grandmother and centenarian elderly man Xu Sheng now live in the old mansions that Zeng Guanghu’s grandmother sold.

  Based on Zeng Guangzhou, during the Cultural Revolution, the house was almost burned down. Now the external part of the room located at the patio left traces of smoke. The carved window on this wall was changed into the aluminum alloy windows because of serious destruction. This is also the only place highlighting the modern atmosphere in terms of appearance. In addition, the house once caught a fire in 1958. During the fire fighting, a wall on the left side of the house was torn down and no repairing work was done.

  Although having gone through hundred years, the old mansion was still well preserved. The wood of the house is a little decayed now and the beams of some rooms and lattice windows begin to fall. Every year some minor repairs are done.

  Noticing that the house is gradually destroying, the elderly man Xu Sheng is very anxious. He often tells his children and grandchildren to take good care of the house and do some repairs to the house. Now, every day, he spends most of his time sitting in front of the gate to stare at this house which has experienced one hundred years, as if doing a special communication between this 144 years old mansion and the 100 years old elderly man. (Photos by Xue Feng and Zhao Zhong Zhi)

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