党家村 is a 600 year old village about 10 kilometers north of Hancheng. And was the real reason why I took the three hour bus ride from Xian. When I arrived at the top of the sloping road leading down to the village, and saw it for the first time, the view took my breath away. It was really picture-perfect, a hundred years old village frozen in time.
It is becoming famous because of its near prefect preservation of Ming and Qing dynasty houses. Particularly those 四合院. I have seen them before, in Beijing, Xian, and other places. But usually just individual ones. And they were usually dilapidated, with the courtyard stuffed with ugly additions. Or so touched up that they looked more like models. Never before so many together, in such good conditions.
These courtyards reminds you of the movie 大紅燈籠高高掛, don't they? Well, they should, because they are really the same type of houses, quite common in northern China a hundred years ago.
In fact, people are still living in them. Behind those curtains dwell farmers who continue to work the fields surrounding the village. They grow mainly pepper corn, corn and millet, A farmer’s life in China is a hard life. Food prices are artificially low, to keep the city folks contended. So the back-breaking work does not always bring many happy returns. I saw a woman carrying a hoe, several women picking something from trees on a hillside just outside the village, a woman feeding sheep, a woman carrying coal, ... The village is a pleasant diversion for city dwellers and curiosity for history buffs like me - who would like it to remain that way as long as can be. But I imagine it must be very different from their point of view.