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Notes on the Geography of China: Beijing: Hutong, Siheyuan, and Highrises: Photo 6

world pictures China: Beijing: Hutong, Siheyuan, and Highrises

Another example, this time the former home of Lu Xun, another writer. Judging from the shadows, we're looking at the building on the north side of the courtyard.

The layout of the house echoes the layout of the palaces and audience halls of the Forbidden City. In both places, visitors enter on the south; in both places, pride of place belongs to the south-facing principal house (zhengfang), always subdivided into an odd number of rooms, with a central parlor. In a traditional home, with an extended family, the patriarch and his wife lived in the rooms to the right or east of the parlor; concubines were on the west. The rooms on the side or wing buildings (xiangfang) might be studies or the home of the wife's son. The north-facing building, "reversely set," was for storage, kitchens, or servants. The principle is clear from the adage: "Rich men don't live in eastern or southern rooms."

Wealthier people might have sets of courtyards. If so, the outer one was for guests; the inner, for the family, much like the division between the Outer and Inner parts of the Forbidden City.

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