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Xiguan is the ancient Guangzhou town and is located in the Liwan district. Today it is a historic and a very important location memorizing and highlighting the important history of the country. It is known mainly for the well preserved traditional architecture and ancient styles of houses.
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Xiguan is a local name that had been given by the locals. It is located in the Liwan district with the North River to the west, Renmin Road to the east, Pearl River to the South and Nishimura to the north. This district had once been located outside the western gates of Guangzhou in the ancient years. This neighborhood had several traditional and old houses called Xiguan Big Mansion. The houses were once occupied by the powerful and wealthy families of the city.
Xiguan are conventional residential houses that had been built in the Xiguan Corner by the wealthy businessmen during the Qing Dynasty. The houses all have the traditional Lingnan characteristics. The mansions are all well decorated, bright and light. On either side of the houses is Qingyun Lane. The lanes are secluded and fire proof. They are also very practical since the serve the functions of planting trees and flowers, transportation, air curing, day lighting, drainage, fire prevention and ventilation.
The Structural Features
The Xiguan houses mainly had timber-masonry structure while the base was built with black bricks. The front doors are tall and granite inlaid. The layout of the houses had been designed based on the traditional style of Central plains with the central main room which stretched further in vertical direction. This is a typical layout and it includes two corridors and three living rooms. The middle room is the main hall. The axis is from south to north and front to back which is followed by a porch, an entrance hall, palanquin hall, main hall, first room, patio, a subordinate hall and the subordinate bedrooms.
In front and on the left of the wing rooms there usually is a small yard and a study. The guestroom and wing hall is located on the right. The rooftop above the guestrooms was used for star gazing, praying, cooling off on hot days and other functions. The kitchen and bedrooms are located behind the guestrooms and wing rooms. Trees and flowers are planted in their gardens. The gardens are usually very quiet and elegant and have a pond and rocks.
In Xiguan mansions, the porches are always well decorated. These houses had three types of doors: hardwood door, wade cage and a corner gate. The wade cage is basically a movable fence which consists of 15 or 13 round hard batten that are typically hardwood or redwood. The fence is opened horizontally. The wade cage and corner gate served the function of security and ventilation. The Xiguan buildings had components which had been designed specially to adapt to the wet and hot climate of Lingnan.
The entrance or front gates of these mansions are made with high quality wood like camphorwood or redwood and were very thick. Copper rings were used as knockers. The door feet are usually hidden in stone mortars. Transverse bars were used on the back for preventing thieves.