There is a historical city in Anhui called She County, which has a long history. The county was set up as early as during the Qin Dynasty, the first great unified imperial dynasty of China, and was the seat of the Huizhou Prefecture during the Song Dynasty, which was the center of Huizhou culture in Chinese history.
She County is deeply influenced by the traditional culture of ritual, and has been known as "the hometown of Cheng Zhu" and "the state of ritual", etc. On the land of She County, there are many families that have been passed down for thousands of years, among which there are many stories of ritual traditions, and the story of the Wall Gate of Xu Village is one of them.
In the early years of the Ming Dynasty, a Xu family in She County Xu Village married a Hu maiden, the two were very affectionate, soon after the marriage Hu maiden was pregnant, but Xu's husband died suddenly due to illness, when his child was not yet born.
At that time, only twenty years old, Hu's wife was determined to keep the festival for her husband, and her husband's elder brother sealed the mansion where Hu's wife lived with a high wall. After Hu's wife gave birth to her son, she has been living in a hut in the high wall, not seeing outsiders.
From her widowhood at the age of twenty to her death at the age of seventy-two, Hu's mother lived in isolation for over fifty years before she was set free after her death, and the mansion she lived in at the time, known as the Walled Gate, became a famous attraction in She County today.
Xu Village Wall Gate
Xu Village is located in the northwestern part of She County, where two rivers, the East and West, converge under the Gao Yang Bridge to form the upper reaches of the Fuzi Water.
Rich capital water flowing south, in the county near the West Pass convergence of the water Yang, since then, because the river is as clear and pure as practice, began to be called Lianjiang.
The Lianjiang River flows from Pukou to the Xin'an River, turns and runs, and flows to Zhejiang Province through the area of Jiekou at the junction of Anhui and Zhejiang, and after several twists and turns, finally flows from the Qiantang River to Hangzhou near the merging into the East China Sea.
Xu Village, located at the node in the Xin'an River-Qiantang River water system, flourished due to water transportation and became a prosperous place in Huizhou.
During the Ming Dynasty, there was a very prosperous Xu family in Xu Village, which had a large number of brothers and six sons by the beginning of the Ming Dynasty.
Xu family in the local history for many years, the family's wealth, the six brothers, some home to manage the fields, some outside the business, the business is very prosperous, the family has a family tradition of farming and reading, Xu family's many sons and nephews can read and write, talented will be sent to participate in the imperial examination, if successful in the examination will be able to expand the family, so that the family's development to a higher level.
Xu family six brothers in the family is the eldest brother Xu Bosheng, he is very famous in Xu Village local, in today's terms, called Xu Village's sage.
Xu family six brothers, the youngest brother named Xu Zhou'an, he married a beautiful young woman, the maiden name Hu, married to the Xu family, and Xu Zhou'an very affectionate, soon after the pregnancy, it seems to be for the Xu family to start a family, adding another population.
Who knows that the sky is unpredictable, in Xu Zhou'an newlywed, happy, looking to become a father, bad luck came to him, he suddenly died of a violent illness, did not have time to see the birth of their children.
Xu Zhou'an died at the age of twenty-four, and his wife Hu's mother was only twenty years old, when she was young and youthful but became a widow, Hu's mother did not know how many times she cried after her husband's death, but fortunately she still had her husband's child in her womb, which was also her only hope for her future life.
After Xu Zhou'an's death, Xu Bosheng, the head of the Xu family, summoned Hu's wife to the hall and asked her about her future plans.
In accordance with the ritual traditions of the time, Hu's mother is naturally to her husband's life, especially her belly with Xu Zhou'an's flesh and blood, but also to give birth to a secure succession Xu Zhou'an this one incense.
Therefore, Xu Bosheng as Xu family family, and is deeply traditional ritual culture of the village squire, he has to maintain the interests of the family, so that the lineage of the sixth brother to succeed, but also to take into account the family's reputation, in the social environment at the time, he certainly will not allow Hu's wife to remarry.
Hu's mother was also born in a local well-to-do family, educated in three obedience and four virtues, whether for her own reputation concerns, or out of responsibility and affection for her deceased husband, she also never thought of remarrying.
She told Xu Bosheng that she wanted to stay in the Xu family for a long time, give birth to the fetus in her womb, and would not let Xu Zhou'an's lineage be cut off, and she intended to close her door and cultivate her body from then on, and keep her husband in line for life.
After hearing this, Xu Bosheng was very happy and praised his sister-in-law, Hu's wife, for her knowledge and understanding, and let her go back to her sixth brother's home to nurse her baby, and her future life will be taken care of by the Xu family, and after giving birth to the sixth brother's son, the Xu family will also do their best to cultivate.
It is said that there are many rights and wrongs in front of the widow's door. In ancient society, a woman who wants to be a widow for a long time and keep the festival for her husband should try to avoid contact with outsiders so as not to attract rumors, for this reason, Xu Bosheng did something that seems incredible nowadays.
The day after the meeting with Hu's wife, Xu Bosheng called craftsmen, first in the backyard of the house where Hu's wife lived a well, named Fuquan well, and then around the house where Hu's wife lived, surrounded by a group of more than one ten feet high wall, the wall does not open doors and windows, so that the residence and the outside world completely isolated.
The daily food and living of Hu's wife was served by two or three old women selected by Xu Bosheng, and the daily rice, oil and salt were regularly sent into the wall from outside the high wall.
In this way, Hu's mother is completely isolated from the world, there is a well in the backyard to get water, food and clothing items are sent in from outside, she has been accompanied by a green lamp since then, just within the high walls of the silent endure the passage of time.
Xu Bosheng this action, in today's view seems to be very excessive, close to the imprisonment of younger siblings, but in the social climate at the time, did not lead to other people's disgust, people at the time have traditionally Xu family out of a chaste and martyred woman, are mostly praise voice.
Xu Bosheng is also very concerned about his brother Xu Zhouan's incense legacy, the child has not yet been born, he has already thought of a name, he took the four words Ji Ren Tian Xiang, said: "If born male name to Tian Xiang, born female name to Ji Ren." It also contains his sentiments about the early death of his brother and good wishes for the offspring of the Xu family.
Xu Bosheng arranged for Hu's wife's food and clothing supply, are very thoughtful and meticulous, after October pregnancy, Hu's wife finally gave birth to a boy, according to Xu Bosheng's intention, on the name Xu Tianxiang.
Xu Tianxiang was born in the second year of Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty, seeing that his sixth brother had a successor, Xu Bosheng was also very relieved, and when Xu Tianxiang grew up a little, he arranged for his nephew to study and seek education, hoping to train his sixth brother's son to become a talent.
Xu Tianxiang's mother, Hu's mother, still lives in the high walls, living a life of never seeing outsiders, because the doors and windows of the residence in the high walls are the same as the old, forming the world's only "wall in the door", this spectacle is also known to many people in the area.
Xu Bosheng later served as the governor of Tingzhou, Fujian Province, and died in office at the age of fifty-two due to strain and illness, without seeing his nephew Xu Tianxiang marry and have children.
Xu Tianxiang was always dedicated to his studies in the Xu family, and he was so diligent and competitive that he was admitted to the imperial examinations of the Ming Dynasty, fulfilling his uncle's hope that he would shine through the imperial examinations.
After Xu Tianxiang won the imperial examinations and became an official, he presented the story of his mother being isolated in the walls and doors to the emperor, who admired him and granted him a commendation and gave him leave to visit his mother in his hometown.
Xu Tianxiang returned home and discussed with his mother about setting up a pagoda of chastity, but his mother was reluctant to set up this pagoda, and she lived as usual for a year, still living in a mansion surrounded by high walls, living a closed life without seeing outsiders.
So it was until the 19th year of Yongle in the Ming Dynasty, when Hu's wife passed away at the age of seventy-two. From the time she was twenty years old to keep her husband's peace, she never set foot outside the "door in the wall" for the rest of her life, and spent fifty-two years in this walled-off mansion.
When Hu's wife was dying, she left a dying wish not to set up any chastity pagodas for her, and eventually, only this "door in the wall" spectacle speaks of this now unbelievable and mysterious past.
Hu's son, Xu Tianxiang, was a prosperous official in the Ming Dynasty, and has been to the post of observer, he has many children, Xu Tianxiang's lineage has been prosperous, multiplying to this day.
In the Jiaqing period of the Qing Dynasty, the Xu family built an ancestral hall in the south of the old house to worship their ancestors, and at this time, the wall door has been called Xiangli door for many years, for this reason, the Xu family also carved the "wall record" on the round door on the north side of the street, recording the past of Xu Tianxiang and his mother Hu's mother.
According to later testimony, Hu's wife's boudoir name is Hu Ru Ren, the Qing dynasty Jiaqing years carved on the "wall record" specifically praised her: "and sister-in-law Hu's Ru Ren, austere frost, aged seventy-two years have not been a court, the public known as the festival woman in."
As for Xu Bosheng's practice, it also seemed to be in line with the traditional feudal morality at that time, therefore, it is recorded in the "Wall Record" that
"The cover is dedicated to the table Hu's children, the descendants said for the wall, then both De Bo Sheng Gong's grace." In this way, the imprisonment of Hu became an act of grace to Xu Tianxiang's lineage.
Finally, the "wall record" on the origin of the Xiangli door and remind Xu's descendants not to forget their roots: "this" Mao poetry "high song long hair its monument" line, Yi wall for Xiangli door, will be three hundred years. Its only children and grandchildren to answer the, do not know its name. Xiangli person died in the wall also, because the wall was originally the old residence of Hu's children, not the so-called do not forget its original."
Today's Xu Village
The Wall Gate has been preserved to this day and has become a famous attraction in She County today, attracting countless tourists, and this past story of keeping the festival for 52 years without stepping out of the wall is also amazing.
The story of Hu's maiden keeping the festival is also related to the historical tradition of ancient Huizhou.
The ancient Huizhou vernacular tradition has always advocated women's observance, and Zhao Jishi, the chief compiler of the Kangxi Huizhou Prefecture, once proudly boasted: "Xin'an is the most virtuous, one euphemism when half of other provinces."
Throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties, the records of festive women and chaste women have become the subject of endless history in Huizhou.
At that time, Huizhou was very business-oriented, and Huizhou merchants were famous all over the world, many Huizhou people went out to do business and did not return for many years, and there were countless wives who said goodbye hastily after their newlyweds, so the local customs in Huizhou strongly promoted women to be faithful and keep their innocence.
There are many similar records and legends in Huizhou, for example, there is a Chastity Square on the south side of Shide Bridge in Xu Village, and it is said that the fiancé died when the owner of the Square had not yet entered the house, and she was alone holding the tablet to worship heaven and earth.
Since then, the woman has been living in seclusion, and has spent her life in innocence, finally earning a chastity pagoda in the later years of the clan for its tree, but it is not expected that the top of the last pagoda can not be installed.
So the clan wondered if she had ever violated the rituals and insulted the innocence of the hidden twists and turns, and under repeated questioning by the patriarch, the innocent woman finally remembered an incident from her early years when she said she had seen a rooster and a hen laugh when they crossed tails.
She had just told this past story, the top of the square was smoothly installed, which also shows the harshness and insensitivity of traditional feudal rituals.
A chastity pagoda in ancient Huizhou is a heavy story, the reason why Hu's mother did not want to set up a chastity pagoda, can not be proven, but the "wall in the door" that remains today, still let future people can see that difficult years.
Chastity pagodas in Huizhou a number of places, in addition to Xu Village, the nearby She Zheng Village, there is also the famous Tangyue group of pagodas, the idea of women abiding by the family tradition had merit at the time, but in the new era, this traditional feudal thinking undoubtedly needs to be traded off and transformed.
In today's Xu Village, the many ancestral halls of that year still play a significant role. The two branches of the Xu Clan, the East and West, have a total of eighteen doors, each originally built with its own ancestral hall, under which there are also branch ancestral halls, family ancestral halls, etc. One door corresponds roughly to an administrative village under the jurisdiction of today's Xu Village Town.
Today, there are thirteen ancestral halls such as Dunben Hall, Zhaode Hall, Dunlun Hall, Dunyi Hall, etc. The ancestral halls are classified by "gate" as Bongbaek Gate, Daesung Gate, Xiangli Gate, Gunbaek Gate, Jincheon Gate, Huanli Gate, etc.
The ancestral halls of today's Xu Village are even richer in the kinds of folksy events held there.
In the past, activities were held only once every two or three years, but nowadays Xu Village often holds them once a year. The election of grassroots villagers' organizations in the villages under the jurisdiction of Xu Village Town is usually held in the ancestral halls, and the old ancestral halls in Xu Village have taken on a new life after the old clan management was terminated.
While passing on the family culture, Xu Village has modified some of the shortcomings in the family customs, discarding foolish ideas such as foolish loyalty and filial piety among them, as well as amending some of the rules that required women to keep the rules and imprisoned their freedom.
Xu Village's new village style "Three Character Classic" begins with the following words: "inherit the tradition, set new rules, the village wind is positive, and benefit." It also says: "Talking about marriage and asking for heavy hiring are bad habits that should be abandoned", which corrects the traditional feudal bad habits.
Today the Wall Gate, along with many historical and cultural buildings in Xu Village, has been named a National Cultural Relics Protection Unit by the State Council in the name of Xu Village Ancient Architectural Complex, and Xu Village has been selected as a National Historical and Cultural Town.
With the help of Xu's descendants, the She County People's Government also hosted the construction of the Xu Village History Museum, which introduces the natural resources, historical overview, humanistic landscape and historical celebrities of the Xu Village area in the form of objects, texts, photos and charts, among which is Xu Tianxiang of the Ming Dynasty.
The story of Hu's maiden keeping the festival back then has been passed down by word of mouth among many visitors to Xu Village, and is a great source of admiration.
Goodness and Filial Reading: the Xu Village Family Style and its Evolution from a Documentary Perspective," Journal of Cebu College, April 2018