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Wuyuan: Hillsides of gold, red and white

By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)

08:51, May 02, 2013

Wuyuan, in Jiangxi province, is known for its idyllic landscape and abundance of cultural relics, like this roofed bridge dating to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). (China Daily)

Wuyuan, a county set in the mountains of Jiangxi province, is an ideal place to slow down, wander among old homes and smell the flowers. Zhang Zixuan checks out the scenery.

If there's one place that evokes the tranquil beauty of Chinese ink painting, it is Wuyuan. The county in northeastern Jiangxi province, dubbed "China's most beautiful countryside", features hills dotted with black and white homes.

Established in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), Wuyuan is one of the cradles of Huizhou culture, which was nurtured by booming trade and featured strong influences of clans and Confucianism. The county's distinctive homes, built in the style of Huizhou architecture, have black roofs and white walls.

The walls themselves are inlaid with black bricks shaped like horse heads, hence the name "horse-head walls". With the passage of time, rain and moisture have penetrated the white walls and have given them the watered down look of ink paintings.

In strict accordance with tradition, the brick and wood structures are decorated with exquisitely handcrafted wood, brick and stone sculptures, now considered State-level intangible cultural heritage pieces.

Homes are interspersed with ancestral temples, showing the residents' respect and pride for their community's history. The buildings are also constructed at different heights to prevent fires from quickly spreading.

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