Saturday, 2 April 2011

Asia Society: Hutongs

Click Link Below For Movie
I always have the highest of hopes for the Asia Society's web site, but it always manages to underwhelm me. Its web site seems somehow anchored in the nineties, with timid multimedia features, and its navigation is confusing. It almost seems to me as if I ventured in a government web site, with dry, clinical and unimaginative display of its many events.

Having said that, it has featured an interesting collection of videos on the Hutongs, the traditional narrow streets or alleys, most commonly associated with Beijing. Hutongs are alleys formed by lines of traditional courtyard residences. Many have been demolished to make way for high rise buildings, and the few remaining are threatened.

Hutongs were created during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) when Kublai Khan founded Beijing as the capital. All closed courtyards were built in a neat layout, and the hutongs were originally all 30 feet in width, allowing plenty of sunshine. During the dynasties, small hutongs were formed within the existing ones, making them overly crowded.

Don't miss the still photographs slideshow of old hutongs!