The Harmony Of Life In A Chinese Hutong–Quickflight

by bria4123 on February 29, 2012

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I sat on my bed in a Beijing hutong, and got ready to tuck in for the night, but I kept hearing a faint motor.

As I lifted my feet up to put them under the sheet, I noticed this little emperor curled next to me, purring. I never saw him because his white fur matched the sheet’s color–I almost sat on him. Because hutongs have a front gate that can be locked, people inside can sleep with their doors open. This is very handy in Beijing’s toasty summers. The open doors allow the residents to mingle intimately, and get a deep feeling that all lifeforms are integrated.

And because all the buildings face a courtyard, people share their activities.

One of the locals thus practiced yogic postures in front of my door in the mornings. Since rooms in most hutongs are small, people do more things out in the open.

Many of the people in our street were very welcoming. This gentleman enjoyed keeping an eye on all his neighbors.

But the one in the above shot knew who was on top of the of the social hierarchy. A terracotta officer from Qin Shi Huang’s tomb in Xi’an stands watch while he takes a break from managing the place.

I have a lot of fond memories of the warmth of hutong life.

Yesterday’s post introduces you to hutong architecture,

and an earlier post will introduce you to ancient China’s intellectual background,  which its domestic architecture emerged in.

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