Beijing's hutongs, lanes or alleys formed by lines of siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) where old Beijing residents live, witness the vicissitude of the city. The word "hutong" originates from the word "hottog" which means "well" in Mongolian. Villagers dig out a well and inhabited there. Hutong means a lane or alley, in fact the passage formed by lines of siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) where old Beijing residents live. Be care not to lost in it! It was recorded that in the Yuan a 36-meter-wide road was called a standard street, a 18-meter-wide one was a small street and a 9-meter-wide lane was named a hutong.
In fact, Beijing's hutongs are inequable ranging from 40 centimeter to 10 meter in wide. The longest has more than 20 turns. Either in east-west or north-south, Beijing's hutongs varied as slant, half or " blind hutongs" cul-de-sacs. The gray-tiled houses and deep alleys crossing with each other in identical appearance like a maze, you will find it much fun to walk through but be care not to lost yourself.
Beijing Hutong is a kind of typical ancient city alley in Beijing. Many of them were built during the Yuan (1206-1341), Ming (1368-1628) and Qing (1644-1908) dynasties surrounding the Forbidden City. During these dynasties, the emperors planned the city and arranged the residential areas according to the etiquette systems of the Zhou Dynasty to establish supreme power. number of dwelling compounds for protection.
The word "Hutong"
originated from the Mongolian word "huto", which means water wells. Since
nomadic tribes used to live and stay near water wells, they called the small
narrow alleys "huto".
Beijing Hutong had its first appearance in Beijing in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).The Hutong name was gradually adopted by all the residents of Beijing , and has been handed down to the present. The houses built on each side of Hutong are called Siheyuan (quadrangle), are generally rectangular dwelling compounds, with buildings on four sides. Almost every quadrangle is surrounded by high walls. In fact, Hutong is formed by quadrangles standing side by side along a straight passage.
The width of Beijing Hutong was clearly regulated in the Yuan Dynasty and measured by steps. A passage of six steps in width was called a Hutong, running directly from east to west. A passage of 24 steps in width was then called a street, which ran from north to south. The whole city, therefore, looked like a chessboard.
With the passage of dynasties, this stipulation, however, did not seem to be so strictly followed in the Ming and Qing dynasty. The meaning of Hutong, in a broad sense, included alleys, passages and even small streets. "There are 360 Hutongs with names and those without names are as many as hairs on an ox". This old saying is used to describe the numberless Hutong in Beijing. The saying is somewhat exaggerated, but it reflects the fact that Beijing's Hutong are numerous and scattered everywhere. According to historical records, there were altogether 413 Hutong and alleys in Beijing in the Yuan Dynasty. The number increased to 1,170 in the Ming, 2,077 in the Qing Dynasty and 6,104 in the mid-1980s.
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