Li­uzhuanghu, Wine Vil­lage

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Wang Wei, pol­ished by Mark Zuiderveld, pho­tos by Li Xiaoyin

Lo­cated in north­east Shunyi District, Li­uzhuanghu is a quiet, peace­ful vil­lage where one can dis­cover charm, colour­ful ac­tiv­i­ties and a coun­try life­style.

Lo­cated in north­east Shunyi District, Li­uzhuanghu is quiet, peace­ful vil­lage where one can dis­cover its charm, and en­joy colour­ful ac­tiv­i­ties and a pas­toral life. Tree shade, wide and neat streets, and al­leys and res­i­dences are dot­ted with flow­ers. Vil­lagers are friendly and hos­pitable, and warmly in­vite tourists to visit their court­yards. This is a tra­di­tional yet modern vil­lage, where a cul­tural street based on tra­di­tional Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­tural style echoes across the mead­ows of a Euro­pean wine chateau.

Ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal records, Li­uzhuanghu vil­lage was first formed in the late Ming (1368–1368) and early Qing (1644–1911) dy­nas­ties. The vil­lage was ini­tially called Yu­ji­ax­in­cun Vil­lage. In the Qing Dy­nasty, a fam­ily by the name of Yu fled from famine in Shan­dong Prov­ince to the vil­lage to work as ten­ant peas­ants. Af­ter the third gen­er­a­tion de­scen­dant of the fam­ily be­came a mu­si­cian of the im­pe­rial court, he bought many plots of land and started a large fam­ily. The vil­lage's name was changed to Li­uzhuanghu in the midQing Dy­nasty.

The an­cient Li­uzhuanghu has be­come a quaint vil­lage with a slow pace of life in Bei­jing's east­ern sub­urb. Oufeibao In­ter­na­tional Wine Chateau with a sim­ple and ex­otic style stands at the en­trance of the vil­lage, mak­ing vis­i­tors to feel as if they were in a Euro­pean town. The chateau pro­vides cus­tom ser­vices for those who want to print their favourite pat­terns and de­signs on wine bot­tles or learn to make wine with the help of tech­ni­cians.

Veg­etable and fruit pick­ing is the pre­ferred out­door ac­tiv­ity. On the op­po­site

side of the chateau is a four-hectare vine­yard with more than 10 va­ri­eties of grapes, of­fer­ing pick­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Here, one can also en­joy spe­cial red wine and dishes of the chateau or over­look the vil­lage from the third floor of the chateau. The fresh air wel­comes ur­ban­ites seek­ing a coun­try life­style.

Nearby the chateau is an or­ganic veg­etable farm es­tab­lished by a fe­male doc­tor who grad­u­ated from Ts­inghua Univer­sity. Many seasonal veg­eta­bles such as toma­toes, sweet pota­toes and pump­kins are grown with ma­nure in­side and out­side of more than 20 green­houses. Here, one can pick veg­eta­bles or register for a mem­ber­ship to en­joy door-todoor de­liv­ery ser­vice. Pri­mary and sec­ondary schools chose the farm to or­gan­ise af­ter­school pro­grammes, where chil­dren can learn about farm­ing.

The vil­lage's street park is the ideal place for kids. Farm an­i­mals gather by a foun­tain, such as tall sika deer with rab­bits. The male sika deer keep their eyes open at any out­siders who ap­proach them and baby deer will hide be­hind them and ob­serve. While rab­bits scam­per around looking for food, turkeys and pheas­ants com­pete for food, while ducks wad­dle around, and pi­geons and pea­cocks walk about.

Walk­ing along a cob­ble­stone trail, you can ar­rive at Yongcheng Eco­tourism and Angling Park, where an aquatic en­vi­ron­ment lure in an­glers to fish. The park has held a range of angling com­pe­ti­tions such as the fi­nals of the 2nd China “Pit Crown” Leisure Angling Tour­na­ment, and 2016 “Red EyesPea­cock Feath­ers” Angling Chal­lenge.

Af­ter en­joy­ing the sights and leisure ac­tiv­i­ties, sou­venirs in the vil­lage are worth a look at and buy­ing. Lo­cated in the north vil­lage, Jix­i­ang Babao Gourd Work Studio spe­cialises in gourds arte­facts. In Chi­nese lan­guage, hulu (gourd) has a sim­i­lar pro­nun­ci­a­tion to fulu (“hap­pi­ness and wealth”), giv­ing the im­pres­sion to Chi­nese who con­sider the gourd as a lucky veg­etable bring­ing good for­tune.

Orig­i­nated from the Han Dy­nasty (202 BC–AD 220), gourd py­rog­ra­phy has flour­ished again by Niu Cheng­guo, a fourth in­her­i­tor of Niu's gourd py­rog­ra­phy based on his in­no­va­tive com­bi­na­tion of tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture with paint­ing. His tech­nique has been listed in the list of China In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage and be­come a pop­u­lar col­lec­tion among do­mes­tic celebri­ties and in­ter­na­tional art cir­cles.

Thanks to unique Niu's tech­nique, nat­u­ral gourds are trans­formed into ex­quis­ite works of art with va­ri­ety of dec­o­ra­tions in­clud­ing land­scapes, flow­ers, birds, lions, hu­man por­traits, Chi­nese zodiac and aus­pi­cious pat­terns, show­cas­ing pro­found tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture and art.

A range of cre­ative ideas and tech­niques trans­formed gourds into a va­ri­ety of art­wares. Tech­niques in­clude us­ing a mould to cover a grow­ing gourd to shape it ac­cord­ing to the de­signs, and us­ing a rough rope, wire or other tools to make pat­terns on the gourd's sur­face. Thus, an artistic de­sign can be made on the gourd be­fore it is fully grown.

Unique gourd arte­facts are on dis­play at Niu's studio. Some are trans­formed into to­bacco pipes, tea can­is­ters, in­cense burn­ers and tea pots; some are dec­o­rated by us­ing in­taglio, re­lief and hol­lowed-out tech­niques; and some are painted with bright colours. With the help of an ar­ti­san, one can draw pic­tures or carve char­ac­ters on a gourd.

If they feel tired af­ter vis­it­ing the vil­lage, vis­i­tors can take a stroll in one of the farm­ers' court­yards to try to taste farmer's dishes or chat with them about the changes of their lives. In front of one of court­yards are per­sim­mon trees and a breeze spreads a wine aroma from the chateau.

A 1,200-square-me­tre mu­seum of the vil­lage's his­tory and a view­ing plat­form for 1,000 peo­ple are un­der con­struc­tion, which will be­come a venue for watch­ing song and dance shows and dra­mas. A 600-square-me­tre din­ing hall near the view­ing plat­form has been in­cluded in the vil­lage's de­vel­op­ment plan.

Other fa­cil­i­ties in­clude a park­ing lot, a zoo as well as more than 20 farm­ers' court­yards un­der ren­o­va­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Liu Xian­cang, sec­re­tary of the vil­lage's com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China, these projects are a first step in de­vel­op­ing Li­uzhuanghu into a leisure tourism vil­lage.

Af­ter com­ple­tion of its infrastructure, the vil­lage will set up co­op­er­a­tives to in­te­grate its tourism re­sources. Liu said, “Five years later, our vil­lage will be­come a Li­uzhuanghu Scenic Area. He added, “We still rely on the govern­ment's in­vest­ment but in the near fu­ture, our vil­lage will be­come more self-re­liant. A flour­ish­ing Li­uzhuanghu with its tourism re­sources cre­ate a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence for all our guests.”

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