|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Wednesday, February 21, 2018
|Beijing hutongs: Village life in the city |
This picture taken on February 23, 2017 shows Gu Chen, an electrical appliance repairman, standing in front of his one-room apartment where he has slept and worked in all his life, in Beijing's ancient "hutong" neighbourhood of Beixinqiao. With space scarce in the city of 21.5 million, most hutong courtyards in Beijing are filled with makeshift wood-panel shacks or higher-quality concrete rooms -- allowing each courtyard to accommodate multiple households. Fred DUFOUR / AFP.
BEIJING (AFP).- Gu Chen has slept and worked in the same one-room apartment in Beijing's ancient "hutong" neighbourhood of Beixinqiao all his life.
Most mornings, he rises from a twin bed that he shares with his wife and walks a few feet to pull aside drapes covering the windows on the doors facing the street.
Then, the 58-year-old settles onto the concrete stoop fronting his shop and gets to work repairing electronic appliances for his neighbours.
Rent has increased fivefold in the past decade, but Gu still charges customers as little as $6 for each repair.
"It is still affordable here compared to the modern apartments, and the one-story level means ... I don't have to pay additional rent for a separate shop," Gu told AFP.
Gu's home is located on the outer edge of a courtyard dwelling with curved tiled rooftops, hundreds of which form networks of "hutong" alleyways in the heart of China's capital city.
The narrow streets come alive each morning with residents selling breakfast snacks from small stalls -- crisp-fried egg crepes, steamed dumplings and warming bowls of millet porridge.
Fruit vendors, butchers and convenience shop owners start their days by setting stools out on the street so they can easily converse with passersby.
They greet each other and gush over children as if they are all family members.
Hundreds of years ago, stately red doors lining the alleys led to spacious courtyards decorated with carved roof beams and painted pillars. Even commoners' homes featured open spaces in the middle.
But since the mid-twentieth century, especially during the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, many hutong homes were taken from their original owners and eventually bulldozed.
Nowadays, with space scarce in the city of 21.5 million, most hutong courtyards are filled with makeshift wood-panel shacks or higher-quality concrete rooms -- allowing each courtyard to accommodate multiple households.
The people who live in each nook may not be kin, but they are very close.
"There is no privacy here, everyone sees your comings and goings and overhears your conversations," said Luo Pu, a young man living in an alley near the Drum Tower, a historic landmark that was used to keep time during the Qing Dynasty.
"My son, his wife and my grandson live a few courtyards down from ours. We see them every day," said Wu Xiaoming, a man in his late fifties, who sells homemade cornbread to neighbours in the Beixinqiao hutongs near the neon-drenched "Ghost Street" entertainment district.
In the evening, after fixing a washing machine, Gu loads it onto his small car -- really a metal shed on three wheels -- to deliver to a neighbour.
Bicycles and motorbikes are the best ways to get around the disorienting alleyways, which can resemble mazes.
Although many of the refined old homes are now rundown, gentrification has begun to transform some of the neighbourhoods into havens for hipsters -- with numerous craft breweries and art galleries cropping up.
The changes have made residents optimistic about their neighbourhoods' future: many surviving hutong have recently been targeted for historic preservation work.
"China changes quickly, but it is often for the better," Gu said.
"If I keep working hard, we will be fine."
© Agence France-Presse
April 11, 2017
According to study, prehistoric cannibals didn't just eat each other for the calories
Geneva Magnificent Jewels led by La Légende
Sotheby's to offer the most valuable earrings ever to appear at auction
Sotheby's to offer Roy Lichtenstein's Nude Sunbathing
Nolan painting acquired by Australian War Memorial
Julien's Auctions announces Spring Street Art and Contemporary Art Auction
Exhibition shows, for the first time, a forgotten member of De Stijl that returned to Realism
Historic San Francisco panorama leads Bonhams Photography Sale in New York
Phillips announces Auction of Exceptional Jewels and Jadeite in Hong Kong
John Baldessari: Paintings 1966-68 exhibited at Craig F. Starr Gallery
National Postal Museum opens exhibition commemorating the centennial of First World War
Solo exhibition of new works by artist Entang Wiharso on view at Marc Straus
Newly discovered painting and new film add to the resurgence of Nova Scotia Folk Art icon Maud Lewis
Camden Arts Centre opens first major retrospective of 91-year-old Romanian artist Geta Brătescu in London
Vancouver Art Gallery acquires works by Rodney Graham, Susan Point, Skeena Reece, and Stephen Waddell
Gary Grealy wins National Photographic Portrait Prize 2017
Abbot Hall Art Gallery presents over 30 monumental paintings by Julian Cooper
Blanton presents first touring museum exhibition of works by Nina Katchadourian
Circus arts help Syrian children make new life
New York harnesses future with passion for the past
Beijing hutongs: Village life in the city
Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions to include decorative arts and contents of Brightley House
June Kelly Gallery opens exhibition of work by Julio Valdez
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- The Morgan explores the Medieval world's fascinating approach to the passage of time
2.- Experts discover hidden ancient Maya structures in Guatemala
3.- Egyptian archaeologists unveil tomb of Old Kingdom priestess Hetpet
4.- The Speed Art Museum and Italian Ministry reach loan agreement on ancient calyx-krater
5.- Major exhibition features artistic masterpieces from the glorious Church of the Gesù
6.- From Beowulf to Chaucer, the British Library makes 1,000 years of rich literary history freely available online
7.- Truck damages Peru's ancient Nazca lines
8.- Trish Duebber is new Coordinator of Youth Programs at Boca Raton Museum Art School
9.- Exhibition examines the way art, like language, was used to articulate a rhetoric of exclusion
10.- The Dallas Museum of Art announces gift of three major European works
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.