At the foot of picturesque Huangshan Mountain sprawl clusters of grey-tiled and white-walled houses, forming the most typical scene captured in traditional Chinese landscape paintings. It is Hui-style architecture, one of the major Chinese architectural styles of ancient times, with the exquisite homes, ancestral halls and memorial archways as its most impressive embodiments.
How did Hui-style Architecture Develop?
Hui architecture developed into a significant school in the Song Dynasty. During the middle period of the Ming Dynasty, gardens and houses constructed with Hui styles developed very quickly along with the Prosperity of Hui commerce and the development of its social economy. Hui style soon stepped out from Huizhou Prefecture and was introduced to big towns along the Yangtze River. The technical features and style of Hui architecture are mostly put into use in the construction of houses, ancestral temples, joss houses, archways, and gardens.
Features of Hui-style Architecture
Hui style houses mainly reflect the mountainous features, geomantic omen, and the beautiful terrain there. Due to the rolling hills and streaming rivers, the villages are usually located near water, or lined up with the hillside along the contour. Winding alleys stretch between high and low houses, and a limpid pool clearly mirrors the buildings and trees lined up beside it.
Hui style houses are typically ones with skylights. With a quadrate skylight surrounded by houses from four sides or from left, right and backside, these Hui style houses can reduce the beat of sunshine and enjoy ventilation. All the houses drain off water to the skylight which means fortune will not run off outside, which is called "four sides water returning to the main hall of the houses" by local natives.
The whole show of Hui style houses, built with black tiles and white walls, surrounded by high walls shaped like horse heads (for fireproofing), and harmonized with refined and elegant colors, brings us a strong sense of beauty. These houses are on decorated with artworks made of brick, wood, and stone. As a traditional architecture school, Hui style embodies elegance, conciseness, and magnificence, and still keeps its special artistic favor to this day.