A rich Chinese abode : The Courtyard

by Roberto Poeti

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

  Some insight into the Courtyard (Siheyuan)

The composition of the courtyard was the base model for residential buildings, palaces, temples,monasteries, family businesses and Government offices. This urban model dates back to the first part of the Western Zhou Period, therefore a history of over 2000 years. The Courtyard could be formed by one or more yards. The home of a powerful cln could have dozens of courts , and be defended by high perimeter walls .

The quadrangular structure of the  courtyard

The  structure with buildings on all four sides is oriented from North to South and from East to West. The building to the North is considered to be the main one, receives more light; serves as a living room and bedroom of the head of the House. If there are enough rooms, the middle one is reserved for Temple of the ancestors. When the head of the House has the concubines they stay in the East Wing of the main house, while his wife in the West Wing. The buildings on the East and West get less light, serve as bedrooms for the kids or for less important members of the family . Those on the East and West get less light; serve as bedrooms for the kids or for less important members of the family. The building to the South receives less sunlight, is usually reserved for the reception hall, the abode of the servants or where the family gathers to eat or relax.

 Only one building with two floors

Behind the building to the North is often the only building with two floors. Unmarried daughters reside in this building, away from the eyes of others. The oldest son and his wife is on the East side, while the younger son with his wife on the West side. The entrance to the courtyard is located at the southeast corner of the courtyard. Passing the entrance stands a masonry screen for privacy. Superstition holds that protect against evil spirits. The courtyard are built according to the traditional concept of the five elements that made up the universe according to Confucian doctrine. Among the rooms in the East Wing was located the kitchen ; in fact in agreement with the theory the East represented the wood that is the fire

A model of Courtyard

The Courtyard could consist of one or more yards . The home of a powerful clan could be made by dozens of yards , defended by high perimeter walls.

The former residence of Hou Wangbing

In the city of Pingyao there are 3000 square courts, called Courtyard in English, 400 of which are perfectly preserved. One of these is the former residence of Hou Wangbing, today a small hotel, but which has kept its original structure. The construction of this Courtyard began in 1736 by a wealthy merchant Hou Wangbing, during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. Originally consisted of six interconnecting courtyards, each with a defined target: the court of the Lord , of servanthood, stables , garden , studio, and ancestors

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

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