Xinye Ancient Village
Xinye (simplified Chinese: 新叶; traditional Chinese: 新葉) is a historic Chinese village in Jiande, Zhejiang Province. Founded in the Southern Song Dynasty, Xinye is noted for its well-preserved Ming and Qing era architecture and ancient residential buildings. Xinye is also known for holding ancestor worship ceremonies on the annual Shangsi Festival, an ancient tradition that is only practiced by a few communities in China today, including Xinye. In 2010 it was designated as a National Historic and Cultural Village of China.
With 16 ancestral halls and 230 white-washed ancient residences that are well preserved, Xinye is acclaimed as the largest open-air museum of ancient residences in China. Its architectural style is similar to that of the nearby historical Huizhou region which includes World Heritage Sites Hongcun and Xidi.
Xishan is the oldest among Xinye’s ancestral halls, and is now part of the Xinye Elementary School. Youxu remains the village’s main ancestral hall where the most important ceremonies are held, though it is exceeded in size by Chongren Ancestral Hall of the eponymous subclan. Other major landmarks include the Ming Dynasty Tuanyun Pagoda (抟云塔) and Wenchang Pavilion (文昌阁). Also near the village is Daci Rock (大慈岩), a Buddhist temple built on a sheer mountain cliff dating from the Mongol Yuan Dynasty.
The village’s remote mountainous location and strong sense of clanship are the major reasons for its excellent state of preservation. Even during the Cultural Revolution when much of China’s cultural heritage was systematically destroyed, the villagers protected the ancient buildings by plastering lime and posting papers with quotes of Mao Zedong on their sculptures and carvings
The main religious practice of the village is traditional ancestor worship; most temples in Xinye are dedicated to ancestors of the village or the sub-clans. To that end, the village has maintained a detailed genealogy book through the centuries, which is officially updated once every sexagenary cycle (60 years), accompanied by a major ceremony.
While most regions of China celebrate the Chinese New Year as the main annual festival, in Xinye the most important festival is the Shangsi or Double Third, which falls on the third day of the third month of the Chinese calendar. Shangsi Festival is an ancient tradition that is only practiced by a few local communities in China today. The celebration includes a 3-kilometer ritual procession to Yuquan Temple (玉泉寺) and back, and ancestor worship ceremonies and performances are held in many temples. In 2010 Xinye was designated as a National Historic and Cultural Village of China, and it plans to eventually apply for World Heritage Site status together with nearby Zhuge and Yuyuan villages