Antang Village is being preserved by local authorities to capture the history and experience of village life in China. It is one of four classified villages in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, to be preserved.
The bronze sculptures told the stories of daily life and are set in intimate courtyards near my mother’s original house. Murals are similar to those in other neighborhoods of Antang shown earlier.
Finding the house location was a challenge as the original house no longer exists. But in classic form, we found an old fellow at the ancestral hall who knew where the house was located.
He agreed to lead us to the site based on the only picture of a wall of the house that I had. The walls of houses and granite paved alleyways provided a sharp contrast to the new artwork installations. These new additions were well integrated with the original village character.
I couldn’t help but think about the Italian village of Matera that Melissa and I had visited in January this year. Its preservation of twin hill towns was inspiring. The planners intend to preserve the environment for 0 impact from tourism while offering commercial opportunities to local villagers. I hope that the Antang planning authority will have the courage, wisdom, and funding to preserve this village in the same meaningful way.
In another moving experience during this trip, my cousin took me to find the gravesite of our ancestors. He goes every year during Ching Ming to clean the site of brush and leaves. For me, it captured the experience of many Chinese throughout time. They made the effort to respect and remember the shoulders of those upon which we stand.