The Jinhua Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office announced that the 7th session of the Jinhua Homestay project will be held in Songxi Village of Baima Town, a natural and authentic area in the county of Pujiang. Between August and September 2018, a new page of the JH will see participants from all over the world experience life in the characteristic “county of crystals.”
As the end of the year approached, the preparatory work for the new session was launched. On December 8, Zhang Daniel Hong, director of the Jinhua Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, led a delegation of the JH organizing team to visit and inspect the possible locations of the next session of the JH, including Zhengzhai and Songxi. Finally, given the outcome of the inspection and the aspirations of local institutions, the village of Songxi was chosen as the final location.
Located in the northeast of Pujiang, Songxi gets its name from the creek around which it is built, and it is surrounded by a flat valley. The village dates back to over a thousand years ago and was settled during the Tang and Northern Song dynasties (960-1126). The major clan, Xu, settled in the village during the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), followed successively by other clans.
Songxi's architectural complex is a major feature of the village. It is the epitome of Pujiang's socio-economic development and the clan's evolution from the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) to the Republic of China (1912-1949), evincing high historical and cultural value. At present, a great number of historical buildings of the Qing dynasty have been conserved, totaling almost 1560 dwellings that cover an area of 54,600 square meters. Forty of these buildings are particularly well conserved, including the Xu Ancestral Hall, Shao Ancestral Hall, Wang Gate, Xiaoyou Hall, and Xiaoting Gate.
Quintessential and unique techniques of design and execution can be found in every detail of these buildings: gables, main doors, windows, tail ridges, beams, courtyards, and carvings. The composite combination of bricks, stone carvings and mural paintings is also a splendid display of the exquisite artistic tradition of Songxi. The village also presents in its buildings a conspicuous use of limestone, as a sign of its tradition in limestone manufacturing, which brought prosperity to the villagers.
Apart from this, the scenery in which the village is set is equally distinctive, making it an idyllic and picturesque location. In June 2010, Songxi's Xu Ancestral Hall was labeled a Cultural Relic Conservation Unit of the county level; in 2014, the village was elected a Chinese Historical and Cultural Village; in January 2017, it was included in the first group of Millenary Historical Villages of the Zhejiang Province, and its buildings are included in the seventh group of the cultural relic protection unit of Zhejiang.
The county of Pujiang really wanted a session of the JH to be held in one of its villages because the participants coming from universities and institutions throughout the world are able to spread Jinhua's story internationally and will definitely contribute to the increase of the international reputation of the county. In particular, as the intention is to make Pujiang an international center for the production and sales of crystal, the project might contribute to the establishment of an international dialogue-promoting industrial reform, cultural exchange, and investment attraction.
Thanks to the platform provided by the JH, Songxi will be able to attract a greater number of visitors and investors, allowing the ancient village to compensate for and improve upon local shortcomings, especially in terms of homestay accommodations, traditional farming and organic food, and other tourist attractions and shopping venues.
Given the successful experience of the previous homestays, the seventh session of the JH will also have a unique theme, which, this time, will be related to the major characteristic local industry, crystal manufacturing. Additionally, as usual, a number of intangible cultural heritage activities will be planned in the project's schedule, including the bench dragon, folk performances, paper-cutting, and wheat-straw art.
Following the establishment of the location, over the next few months, the application will be launched, inaugurating a new season of preparatory work leading to the opening of the seventh session next August. (By Wu Qian – Jinhua Daily, translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Xiamara Hohman)