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It’s been so long I’m a bit embarrassed to suddenly show up again like that. To cut the long story short: I’m back in Poland now, readjusting to low temperatures and dairy. And now let’s just skip the whole awkward where-I-was-and-why-wasn’t-I-posting-I’ve-got-some-cheek-to-just-turn-up-now bit and move, why don’t we – okay?

So one day while I was staying with my dear friends in Pujiang, they decided we should all go on a trip – so we did. We went to a not very faraway little village which claims to be the ancestral place of the Yu family. Here a bit of explanation is in order: in China there’s a fixed number of last names – about 300, I think – and every Chinese person in the world bears one of them. There being quite a large number of Chinese people around, chances of two people called Li being actually related are tiny, but technically speaking each of those names is supposed to come from a specific family in ancient China. So it’s kind of reverse to the West: we have a fixed register of first names, but last names can evolve, change spelling, whatever. In China last names (which of course go first in Chinese!) are sacrosant and untouchable – with first names, anything that your parents fancy goes (and of course traditionally you’d have at least three different first names during your lifetime – but I digress).

The village was tiny, slightly unkempt and deserted, which made it a very nice getaway.

The courtyard of the clan hall inside the village. The platform is for Chinese opera performances.

The inner courtyard. The columns on the right are female and leaning, the ones on the left are male and upright.

 

Carved details of a window. Decorations depended on who was supposed to live in a given room (for example the room of a new bride would have carvings of fertility symbols like peaches).

A square with a lonely stand selling a lot of trinkets from the old times…

…including posters of a young Chairman Mao made to look like a saint and saviour of the people.

But also other stuff.

This piece of architecture, overlooking a passage, supposedly served the purpose of husband-catching. A disposable lady would stand in there and throw a ball or something through the window. The man who picked it up would be her husband. …I dearly hope it’s just an urban (well, rural) legend. Seems like a terrifyingly inefficient way of choosing one’s life partner…

The inside of a (I think the only one) village shop.

Live scientifically – don’t follow cults (by which they probably mean Fa Lun Gong)

Just a maze of little streets

The great thing about this village was that you could actually go and look everywhere, and there were still real people living there.

What can I say. There was just a multitude of cute dogs!

Another temple behind the village

A furnace for burning paper money etc. The character behind it says “dream”.

For a small fee you could have your name carved on a plate like this so people would pray for you. My friends, being artists, decided the calligraphy was not very impressive and they’d like a go too.

The temple door with an image of a guardian deity. The man inside was quite interesting. The second he saw me he forgot all about his carvings and started saying: “Look at her eyes! Look at her nose! What a nose! Have you ever seen such a nose? She’s a foreigner, this one. A foreigner, I tell you! I could see it the second she came in!” How very observant. But my friends tried to convince him that I’m actually a Chinese, only from the Uighur minority. “If you go to Beijing” – they said – “you’ll find her selling kebabs on the street!” He might have believed it. Then he turned a somersault.

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