Right in the middle of this part of the province was the small, ancient village of Yan, where time stands still and the locals are warm and welcoming. Picture-perfect, it offers visitors a glimpse of rural China. We walked through small alleyways and saw the locals going about their day. Some were cleaning, others preparing meals and enjoying the quiet life. A moment of peace and tranquility for a busy traveller!
Wangkou Village is surrounded by rivers and mountains on three sides, and features ancient residences that have stood for more than 1,000 years. Within its borders are the famous ancient Yu Family Ancestral Hall, and many other attractive scenic spots like Yijing Hall and Maode Hall which are essential parts of this village.
We again got lucky, as we witnessed a wedding with our guide who explained the proceedings. The ancestral temple serves a major symbolic function and during the wedding rites, the bride and groom worship at the groom’s ancestral shrine, bowing 4 times. The first is for Heaven and Earth, second bow for the ancestors, a third bow to parents and the fourth bow to their new spouse.
In ancient times, this village was an important trading post where thousands of merchants would share their treasures. The village is careful to preserve this history, and when you visit the village, you can sense the ages through the ancient halls, merchants’ residences and bookstores that fill the streets.
One memorable trip was a tour of the Gu Yan Factory (an ancient kiln) in Jingdezhen, where they have been making ‘China’ (ceramics) for centuries, still crafted today as it was hundreds of years ago. The factory is a very popular place, and it was interesting to watch the workers at different stations crafting such artistic items, from the raw clay to the finished painted pieces, glazing and firing. Everything from plates to elaborate vases are made and offered for sale here.
Many westerners have come to the factory to find out how they were so good at porcelain, and later brought these techniques to Europe to start new industries there. Also known as the “World Capital of Porcelaine”, this large complex contains many buildings in a natural setting. Near the end of the tour, we were treated to a music show were all the instruments were made of ceramics – bells, flutes, violins…astounding and unique to say the least!