Thursday, April 24, 2008


党家村 was and is a farming village. It was perhaps not much different from other villages in China until the end of the Qing Dynasty. While both Hancheng and Dangjiacun are both very old, they are quite different.

Hancheng is an old town, with several straight, wide streets and many narrow ones, Dangjiacun’s streets are all narrow and mostly irregular. While there are many shops opening onto the streets of Hancheng, they are mostly Siheyuan’s (四合院) in Dangjiacun and almost no shops.

One thing that struck me was the numerous writings exhorting people to study, to be modest, to work hard, to be kind to family, to be disciplined, and in general to be virtuous.

They reminded me that while practically everyone in China was a farmer, everyone also dreamed of studying hard to be a cultured person. And, one day, passing the national examinations to qualify as an official. Failing that, at least become a learned and respected elder in ones’ own village.

There was even a monument honoring a virtuous wife of an official. More about it later.

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