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Hutong in Xicheng district(2010-12-15)

2010-12-15

Hutong in Xicheng district

Beijing is a traditional city in China.Xicheng district is the heart of the Beijing.Many ancient building are remained today.Hutong has become a culture and attracted many foreign friends. In Xisi, you can view the real Hotong and know how the people live in the Siheyuan. Today we will go to have a look of Xisibeiwutiao Hutong.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it was known as Lao Niang Hutong (Midwife Lane), after a midwife who lived here, while in No.7 lived a famous educator of the 20th century, Fu Zengxiang (1872-1950), Minister of Education during the Republic of China (1911-1949). In 1892, Fu successfully passed the Keju - the imperial public service examination - aged just 20.

Three years after he was designated minister, Fu dramatically resigned as a protest of the government's handling of the Peking University students, following the anti-imperialist and feudal May 4th Movement in 1919. During this period, Fu turned his attention to the development of the Chinese education industry and was known as the creator of the public school system.

The moment he stepped off the messy and turbulent stage of politics, he concentrated more on his study of Chinese literature, which was always deeply appealing to him. In 1927, the Gugong (Forbidden City) Museum presented him the position of head of its library. Even during the most fraught period of the Second World War, Fu did not quit his studies. In the end, there were 200,000 more books added under his collection, up to 180 of which were published in the Song Dynasty and around 30,000 from the Yuan and Ming dynasties.

Fu moved into No.7 in 1918, and it naturally became his private home library, with a variety equal to almost all the libraries of Chinese literature combined. He named No.7 "Cang Yuan," the "Hiding Garden," and indeed, most of the rest of his life was spent in solitude, with mainly books for company.

As a great collector, he traveled the whole country gathering books, and spent much of his income purchasing tomes, traveling to Japan even to retrieve ancient Chinese texts scattered there. His love began putting him in debt. In an age when people of good educational background regarded a high position in a government as their sole pursuance in life, not many had a simple heart for pure knowledge like Fu. When Premier Zhou Enlai contacted him in 1949 to send his regards to this respectable man, Fu was dead before the letter reached his home in Xisibeiwutiao. Most of his books were donated to the public and some are still well-kept in the libraries of the city. Sadly, after he died, his relatives were left fighting with each other on court for ownership of his antique collection.

Although little remains of Fu's influence, the local residents will almost all tell you that the former Minister of Education during the Republic of China once lived here, the same information that you can refer to from the plaque at either entrance of the lane.

"There was a delicate wooden carvings of the national flag of the Republic of China on the top of the main gate," recalled 80-year-old Wang, "but it was painted in oil and is unrecognizable now." When Wang moved here in the 1950s, the siheyuan enjoyed a much tidier layout and cherry-apple trees were nicely planted inside the garden. Here used to be the public dormitory which later became soldiers' accommodation in the 1980s. After that, it was a kindergarten. A block with patterns that looks like it might be a stepping-stone for mounting horses, supposed to be outside the gate, is now inside with a vase of flowers on top. From the inscribed word Xi ("Fortune") on the wooden door of the main house in the second courtyard, you can imagine the happy old days of its original inhabitants.

But today's No.7 has lost that quietness that Fu so relished, with the occupation of around 40 families. One private pedicure clinic sits just right to the left side of the door of this great scholar's former residence. Walking down this lane, you even take particular notice of some "modern" (ahem) hair salons with seductively dressed women sitting inside the doors (and not a pair of scissors in sight). It seems that at Xisibeiwutiao, the page has truly turned on Fu's literary legacy.

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