On one of the rare days that we did not feel like checking out Jingdezhen's ceramic markets, shops or makers, we decided to take a walk around the city. We wanted to explore some of the ancient villages so we went across the Yangtse river!
Qing Street of Sanlv Temple Street (三闾庙古街) was built in the Qing dynasty
This was once a bustling prosperous street during the Qing dynasty.
I can just imagine wheelbarrows being pushed through hordes of villagers.
Crossing the river, elements of Jingdezhen being a porcelain city were still omnipresent. We wandered into a small alley of another village, and a villager looked at us intensely (for about a good five minutes) and then proceeded to invite us in and brought us around.
The basket hung at her door is to store their catch of the day (which we assumed was from the river).
When we were conversing, it was apparent that she was immensely proud (and rightfully so) of her heritage and the fact that her ancestors were all artists that drew and painted on ceramic pieces! Jingdezhen's history as pottery-producing city went a long way back and a lot of the old villages housed their own kilns at a time before the modern pottery factories even existed.
A really quiet street of her village
We followed her on a little tour around her village where she showed us how these villages were designed to direct the flow of heat out from the kilns naturally and how the houses there were all naturally cooling (interestingly, these houses were really cooling even though it was scorching outside!). There were also different types of bricks such as kiln bricks and normal bricks that were used to build the houses, although by the time we left the village, we still could not tell them apart.
Sadly, most of the old villages have been torn down and the occupants were forced to move out by the authorities ever since they discovered ancient pottery pieces buried under these houses.
Derelict houses with everything already dug out - She found a porcelain shard which she gave to me as souvenir when i was trying to snap a photo of it in the dark 😅
These relics would fetch a high prices due to its historical value and as she showed us around her village, we couldn't help but notice that it was almost deserted - most of the villagers have been pressured to move out with little or no compensation from the government.
An abandoned house that has been dug out and now filled with rubbish
She casually mentioned that sometimes at night, they can actually hear people digging for porcelain and 'looting' going on in the vacant houses! ''Very soon, there will be no village at all', she lamented (in Chinese, of course) as she introduced us to the few remaining villagers and showed us some traditional and fengshui elements of the old houses.
Her neighbour's house, who unfortunately was not in at that moment, so we sneaked a quick look from the outside. Looks luxurious with a front yard as compared to the other houses which you can see the living room and bedroom from the street.
Sky well (天井) in a courtyard for fengshui purposes - for the collection of rainwater, which symbolises wealth.
In their two-storey enclosed building, it was also their main source of light for their living room. The area enclosed by the red bricks you see on the right, is their toilet, which was more modern than what we expected, as it was built much later on.
You can also see intricate carvings on the stone along the streets that were made by the craftsmen of this village.
Once she realised that we were from Singapore, she very excitedly jumped on the chance to send a barrage of questions down our way - ranging from our weather conditions to questions like if we have cats in Singapore or if we have seen jasmine flowers (茉莉花) before.
Soon, it was time to leave and we parted ways with the friendly lady and her neighbours as her little girl coyly waved to us. It has been 2 years since and time to time, we always wonder how she's doing and if her village is still around.
Rubbles of a torn-down building
In stark contrast: new buildings were being constructed everywhere!
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