Ying Village - The first village of Yunnan
Village, regarded as "the first village of Yunnan" within
academic circles, is located on Shiping County, Yunnan. Zheng
village gets its status from its historical sites under state
protection, numerous cultural relics, and a great deal of old
wells, bridges, scriptures, monuments, and trees. In 1999, Zheng
Village was listed as the first of Yunnan's famous historical
villages. It is now considered the "older brother"to
Yunnan's other villages.
The three provincial historical and cultural sites under
state protection are the Cheng ancestral hall, the Zheng
ancestral hall and the Cheng courtyard. In addition to the
Cheng and Zheng ancestral halls, there is also the Wu ancestral
hall. The ancestral halls and local houses were deeply connected
to old southern culture, and managed to retain much of Ming
and Han culture for 600 years.
The scale of the Cheng ancestral hall, the grade
of its building material, delicate decoration, perfect curving
and unique design is seldom seen in our country. Connoisseurs
of old buildings often say, "I had never seen so magnificent
an ancestral hall, at least in southwest China. It is the most
luxurious and extravagant building in the village." The Cheng
ancestral hall absorbed the elite Han and imperial architecture.
The hall's stone and wooden curving, famous calligraphy, paintings
and scriptures are all rare artifacts today. Yet, the buildings
were used as everything but
a museum in recent times. Some sections of the complex were distributed
to peasant during the period of land reform. Others are used a
barn and grinding room. The whole hall is now divided into several
parts by sun-dried mud bricks and is used as houses, kitchens,
and pig pens. When viewing the stone bricks and carvings from
the outside of the ancestral hall, its perfect design and delicate
curving create an ideal setting. Even the unprofessional could
imagine its value at first sight. Fortunately, the ancestral hall
is listed as a provincial site under state protection. The villages
will eventually move out, allowing the Zheng ancestral hall to
be restored to its original splendor.
The Wu ancestral hall is located beside
the village. Its floor is of slab stone. The carved beams
and painted rafters suggest that the hall was a great expense
for the Wu family. But because it has not been maintained
over the years, it is in very poor condition today. The
central hall, which enshrines the Wu's ancestors, is used
as a horse stall today although it is still decorated very
luxuriously. The villages who live in this ancestral hall
expect the house to collapse soon. They hope that the government
will spend some resources to repair it.
There are so many local houses in Zheng
Village worth of visiting. The largest and most representative
is Chen's courtyard, which is also a cultural site under
state protection. Its curving and frescoes are masterpieces
of the Ming and Qin Dynasty.
The arrangement of Zheng village took planning.
The border of this village is called "There Streets
and Nine Lanes." All of the building are arranged along
nine lanes, running north to south, and three streets, running
from east to west. The streets are divided into Upper Street,
Middle Street and Lower Street. Only the Middle streets
are made of stone. All of the streets and lanes are named
using a surname such as Li Lane, Chen Lane and Ma Lane.
One villager of Zhen village once said proudly,
"Don't reckon that it is fashionable to build environmentally
friendly cities today. Ours is just old fashioned, built
in Ming or Qin Dynasty." The unique buildings , gardens,
farmlands, vegetable plots, springs and roadways are in
harmony with the environment. And the exceptional climate
makes the small place both elegant and tasteful.
Village is the cradle of Baoxiu Town, which is the cradle of Shiping
County. Since ancient times, Shiping County has been the source
of great talent. There were 65 literary schools, 15 members of
the imperial Academy, an economic expert and 11 military scholars.
Altogether, there are 640 scholars of either the pen or gun. The
number of scholars in Shiping is rivaled only by Yunnan's capital,
Kunming City. Yet, Shiping is only just a county.
Among Shipinhg people, there are old sayings
that describe the numerous talents of the time. It was said
that almost every family had scholar. Perhaps this was no
At the end of the Qin Dynasty, the imperial examination
system was stopped and the new style of schools sprang forth.
Yet, there were still many talents in Shiping. During the
period of the Republic of China,142 students from Shiping
attended college. Among them, 12 students studied in Japan,
6 studied in America and one studied in France.
In 1998, it was recorded that 2,400 of the
county's the entrance examination since Liberation. Dozens
of students studied in China's famous universities. Several
students even gained their doctorate degree from America
and Russia. Among them, were many influential figures such
as writer LiQiao, an expert in petrochemistry, and YangZongyu,
a member of the Chinese Science Institute. In addition,
more one thousand natives became officials. As only a medium-sized
county with a population of 280,000 people, the county has
made a great contribution to the country by producing bright
are 2,000 people (520 families) in Zheng Village. The chief engineer
of the First Changchun Automobile Factory, Cheng Heting is a villageg
native. And the professor of Northwest Univercity, Cheng Fuguan
also came froma Zheng Village. Cheng Heting is probably the most
influential figure from the Village. He passed the country examination
in 1901. In 1903 he won third prize in the governmental examinations
and went to study in Japan. In 1904, he was appointed as the head
of Tianmng County, Huangpo County and Yidu County. After the Xinhai
Revolution, he returned home to Zheng Village. Cheng then called
on the local landlord and other elders to bring the Chirui Lake
under control. He also contributed to building the slab stone
streets and protecting the ancestral hall.
For a short time, Cheng was appointed as
the chief manager of Bishi Railway. The railway gave hope
to the Yunnan people and was a remarkable project at the
time. Meanwhile, he founded two schools in Zheng Village
and persuaded the rich merchant, liHen, to donate funds
to build Shiping middle school and other public works projects.
A Fertile Paradise
Zheng Village is a fertile paradise. It
faces the stunning Chirui Lake. To the east and west are
Bao Mountain and Xiu Mountain. Therefore, villagers are
more self-contained and self-sufficient than other regions
of Yunnan. They engage in plant and animal husbandry. They
also raise fish. The villagers even process their own bean
curd and daily life there is tasteful. There are also man-made
pools and pavilions built by the landlords for public recreation
during the Ming and Qin Dynasties.
Lake is the treasure bowl of Zheng Village. It is home to an abundant
amount of fish, shrimp, frogs, river snail and edible seaweed.
It also contains an endangered variety of fish that was thought
to be extinct in 1970s. There are still grass carp, red carp,
blue carp swimming within Chirui's depths.
Chirui Lake keeps the surrounding fields fertile with its
moisture. The Zheng people said that fertilizer is seldom
used on the fields, resulting in more tasteful grain, wheat,
vegetables. The oranges and peaches planted on the back
side of the mountain are also delicious. The bean curd,
which is processed locally, is fragrant and tender.
There are two paths going to Zheng Village.
One crosses the bank of the Chirui Lake. Although this path
is difficult to walk, it is a scenic route. And it also
allows for the opportunity to communicate with nature. The
colorful birds, schools of white egrets, greedy ducks and
fishermen from a harmonious picture, which can seldom be
seen in China. You can breathe in the air of the forests
and appreciate the view of the whole town with Chirui Lake
The truth behind the old saying, "Trees
raise water, water raise land and land raise people"
is understood clearly by the clever Zheng people. The villagers
said , "Zheng people had an ecological consciousness
as far back as the Ming or Qin Dynasties." They knew
that clean water is created by trees. So during the time
of Great Leap Forward or "learning from Da Village"
campaign, they did not cut the trees on the mountain. It
has been 600 years since their ancestors arrived, yet the
people keep to the tradition of protecting the cypress banyan,
pine, orange and peach trees.
Guests always praise the beautiful Chirui
Lake when they arrive. But the villagers respond with a
sigh of bitter regret. They said, "Chirui Lake will
soon become a pond. There are abundant fish, shrimp, edible
seaweed, seagull, ducks and numerous birds here. It is also
convenient to do business in Shiping County by boat. But
if the lake continues to dry up, the Chirui Lake will become
to Zheng Village often question why such a place contain so many
historical and cultural sites and well as being the hometown to
so many of China's scholars. An answer is available to the careful
observer: All of the village in Baoxiu Town have origins connected
to the Ming army, who once organized garrison troops or peasants
to open up the wasteland and grow food. The Shiping area began
to be settled by Han people and villagers gradually formed. (Although
Zheng village is part of Baoxin Town, it is not considered one
of the "The Twelve Towns of Baoxiu.") Zheng Village
was originally called Pusheng. It was a place for Tai people rather
than Han. But 1382, the second son of one general of Ming Dynasty
moved to this place and renamed it Zheng Village.
Zheng Village is a paradise of warm weather,
delightful sunshine, tasteful water and fertile land. When
the Ming army came, they brought with them many advanced
yields. So, poverty was not a problem. The descendants instead
paid greater attention to the pursuit of position and wealth.
They founded academies and energetically encouraged their
youth to train for the imperial examination.
Those who gained position and wealth from
the imperial examination were able to build the many ancestral
halls, courtyard, villages, bridge and temple to pay tribute
to ancestors and retain a good name for posterity. The houses
were built by scholars, and therefore pay particular attention
to the cultural atmosphere of the time in addition to the
quality of the material and design. And so the village grew
rich in cultural heritage, much of which still remains untouched