Underground courtyard

Updated: Apr 10, 2018 Print
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While many people are running to the local pool to cool down in the scorching summer heat, some enterprising people in the village of Miaoshang, near the city of Sanmenxia, Henan province, have found a way to spend a cool summer at home.

The villager method was to put the courtyard below ground level, with loess soil as the material to keep it cool in the summer and warm in winter. This method dates to the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and, out of 73 courtyards, 53 were preserved while others were renovated.

This sort of lifestyle is a bit of a puzzle for many newcomers, but literary figures have written poems about it, one of the most famous of which goes as follows:

Where is the cooking, I think I know.

The smoke up ahead is curling up from his home.

Shocked to see nothing but trees around, I head down,

Glad to see kids giggling in the yard below.

Typical below-ground Miaoshang courtyard, in Henan province. [Photo/]

By Pan Qi and edited by Roger Bradshaw.

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