I was told by my parents that my grandfather migrated from Quanzhou to pursue a better life due to hardships in the village. However the development of China’s economy have certainly allowed the villagers to gain access to better amenities. In addition to new industries hiring local workers, many from the villages have moved to tiled and air-conditioned apartment complexes. Even road access to the villages is paved today compared to 10+ years ago when my parents visited the area. As the old village homes start to get demolished to make way for nicer apartment complex to hold the increasing population, it was great to be able to visit the home that my grandfather and his siblings helped to build in the village a few decades ago.
The construction of the ancestral home was built in a traditional style with an arched gate that greets visitors to a front courtyard. A brick facade with interesting roof details and door ornaments makes a note to bless the family residing in the home. After the main door is a main hall where the altars of ancestors are placed and the hallway is decorated with photos of family members in their marriage. Along the main hall are some rooms that are used as bedrooms or study rooms. Sofas and side tables are placed by the main hall where visitors are usually looked after.
Behind the main hall is a small foyer where the staircase to the second floor where there is yet another hall that serves like a family room. It was fascinating to see the potraits of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, the first President and Premier of the People’s Republic of China.
While the exterior of the village home is made of bricks, the roof and room separators are built of wood, and the traditional wooden beam construction can be seen all over the house. Some of the wooden beams feature intricate carvings and decorations.
Similarly the bedrooms have cupboards that have beautiful carvings though they are often found with some odd decorations like a the national flag. As the rooms are not air-conditioned, the beds also have nettings around them to ward off mosquitoes. These are all artifacts that would be found in a museum, so it was definitely to see them being used in the village residence.
At the back of the home there is a smaller courtyard where more living quarters are situated. However as mentioned earlier, this house is only occupied by the old caretaker and a couple of his grandchildren. When it was built, the house was designed to fit in most of the family members as it has been tradition for families to live together. Today, many of the young adults have moved into the cities in search of jobs and a better career.
Visiting this ancestral home allowed me to offer prayers to my ancestors as well as appreciate the way local villagers used to live in the past. And before many of these old village homes get demolished, it was interesting to note old village style architecture for myself. Due to my visit coinciding with the lunar new year, there was some decorations in the village and we were treated to bowls of eggs in sugar syrup, which is one of the traditional dishes served to guests in the village.