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Chinese Scenic Spot-Beijing's Siheyuan

North China's courtyard houses are outstanding representatives of traditional residences of China's Han people. Beijing's Siheyuan China vacation deals (courtyard with houses on four sides), at the highest level and most typical specimen of its kind, boasts a long history. According historical discovery analyses, the Siheyuan residence appeared more than 2,000 years ago.It is called 'Siheyuan' in Chinese, 'Si' means 'Four', which here refers to the four sides: east, west, north and south. 'He' refers to the surrounding, meaning the four sides circle into a square. Due to its special layout, it is compared to a box with a garden in the center. There is only one gate leading to a hutong, so when the gate is closed the courtyard loses touch with the outside world. Therefore family members can fully enjoy tranquility and share the happiness of a peaceful family union.

The residence is situated in the north of the compound and faces south, mostly consisting of inner and outer yards. The outer yard is horizontal and long with a main door that opens to the southeast corner, maintaining the privacy of the residence. Through the main door to the west in the outer yard are guest rooms, servants' room, a kitchen and toilet. North of the outer yard, through an exquisitely shaped, floral-pendant gate, is the spacious square main yard. The principal room in the north is the largest, erected with tablets of "heaven, earth, the monarch, kinsfolk and teacher," and intended for family ceremonies and receiving distinguished guests. The left and right sides of the principal room are linked to aisles that were inhabited by family elders. In front of the aisle is a small, quiet corner yard often used as a study. Both sides of the main yard have a wing room that served as a living room for younger generations. Both the principal room and wing rooms face the yards, which have front porches. Verandahs link the floral-pendant gate and the three houses, where one can walk or sit to enjoy the flowers and trees in the courtyard. Sometimes, behind the principal room, there is a long row of "Hou Zhao Fang (back-illuminated rooms) that served as either a living room or utility room.

Beijing's Siheyuan is cordial and quiet, with a strong flavor of life. The courtyard is square, vast and of a suitable size. It contains flowers and is set up with rocks, providing an ideal space for outdoor life. Such elements make the courtyard Student tours to China seem like an open-air, large living room, drawing heaven and earth closer to people's hearts; this is why the courtyard was most favored by them. The verandah divides the courtyard into several big and small spaces that are not very distant from each other. These spaces penetrate one another, setting off the void and the solids, and the contrast of shadows. The divisions also make the courtyard more suited to the standards of daily life. Family members exchanged their views here, which created a cordial temperament and an interesting atmosphere.

In fact, the centripetal and cohesive atmosphere of Beijing's Siheyuan, with its strict rules and forms, is a typical expression of the character of most Chinese residences. The courtyard's pattern of being closed to the outside and open to the inside can be regarded as a wise integration of two kinds of contradictory psychologies: On one hand the self-sufficient feudal families needed to maintain a certain separation from the outside world; on the other, the psychology, deeply rooted in the mode of agricultural production, makes the Chinese particularly keen on getting closer to nature. They often want to see the heaven, earth, flowers, grass and trees in their own homes. The architectural ornaments of the courtyard houses are of distinctive features, with some brick carvings or wood carvings dotted on the prominent places such as the screen walls and the lateral walls of the door. The porch, flowers-hung gate (chuihua gate, the second gate which separates the outer court and the inner court), drum-shaped bearing stone, as well as doors and windows with wooden partition are also the key points for ornamentation. All these carving decorations and colored drawings are the embodiment of folk customs and traditional culture, which reflect common people's pursuit for happiness, goodliness, wealth and auspiciousness. For example, the design with the bat (read fu in Chinese, the same pronunciation with "Fu", meaning happiness) and the Chinese character "Shou"(longevity) together means to have both good fortune (fu) and longevity (Shou); the pattern of a vase with China China Photography Tours roses (flowering every month) means being safe and sound for the whole year (every month of the year); and dictions embedded in the upper door, the couplet hung on the columns of a hall as well as the beautiful paintings and calligraphies hung in the room are all permeated with culture flavor. If you observe carefully, you can find other traditional ornaments such as decorative cylinders, door couplets and door Gods in the courtyard houses.

Grey is the dominant color for the bricks, walls, roofs and the grounds, only on the door and window coated some paint of red and green, all of which bring harmony and simple elegance to the courtyard house. The paths in the yard are all paved by the bricks with the four corners of the yard left for planting trees. Green trees and red flowers really make good scenery. Some big courtyard houses even have gardens, kiosks, platforms or pavilions. Flowers, wood, mountain and stone; you name it, they have it.

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