Zhuge Family Village (Eight Diagrams Village)

View of Zhuge Family Village
View of Zhuge Family Village

As part of our ongoing explorations of Jinhua and its tourist attractions, we were given the opportunity to visit the Zhuge Family Village, also known as the Eight Diagrams Village. This historical village is similar in many ways to Yuyuan village, but it is bigger and better maintained. About 4,000 people currently live here, about 80% of which trace their lineage back to Zhuge Liang, an important military strategist, statesman, scholar, and inventor in the third century. He served as the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Shu under Emperor Liu Bel. The Zhuge family moved here in the fourteenth century and gradually overtook the previous village and renaming it. Many of the buildings in this village date back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, although some were rebuilt after being damaged during the Taiping rebellion (1850 to 1864).

Our first stop on the tour was the Prime Minister Ancestral Hall, the common ancestral hall of the Zhuge family. It is believed that this ancestral hall was first built during the early Ming Dynasty and expanded during the sixteenth century. During the Taiping Rebellion, it was burnt down before being rebuilt in 1896 and renovated again in 1925. This hall is huge, with large statues of Zhuge Liang and his descendants. It was also swarming with paparazzi. Since we were venturing out of our home base village of Souyuan, the media was out in force. At one point, I counted no less than six professional photographers and at least two videographers. Looking suitably impressed, we looked at this ancestral hall and its collection of statues, intricate carvings, and ancient architecture.

Bell Pond at Zhuge Family Village
Bell Pond at Zhuge Family Village

The main pond in this village, the Zhong Chi (Bell Pond), is the center of the village and is shaped like a Yin Yang (yin is water, yang is land), the center of the Eight Diagrams or baguas. Even now this pond was a center of activity, with people washing clothes and pots and gathering water from the well. From this pond, the village is divided into eight sections. These eight sections form the inner bagua, and the eight hills that surround the village form the outer bagua. These bagua, or eight symbols, are used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality and are seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts (heaven/sky, lake/marsh, fire, thunder, wind, water, mountain, and earth).

Many of the descendants of Zhuge Liang have been well-known for their skills in Chinese medicine. We walked through several herbal gardens containing a variety of ethnobotanical plants. There was also one large shop,  serving as an herbal medicine pharmacy of sorts, complete with a consulting medicine man. This piqued my interest so I sat down for a consultation. Placing my right hand on a sheet of yellow paper, the medicine man placed three fingers on my wrist, feeling for a pulse. He looked into my eyes and at my tongue before pronouncing that I was suffering from a cold stomach (or at least that’s what the volunteer who was translating for me said he said). I’m still not totally sure what that means besides I should avoid cold foods and cold drinks (this might be why I hate ice in my drinks). He also gave me a prescription for some herbs to help, but I did not fill it. Along with tourism, the income derived from these herbal medicines keep the village prosperous.

A tofu and spinach Yin Yang at our hotel
A tofu and spinach Yin Yang at our hotel

After our afternoon at the Zhuge Family Village, we headed back to the hotel where we would be staying for the night. This is the only night we are not staying at our homestays during the time in Jinhua. The hotel was pretty nice, with lots of great ponds and landscaping. Unfortunately, it was raining much of time so it was hard to enjoy. Our dinner was really great, with plates and plates of food (and bottles and bottles of beer). The food just kept coming until we were all beyond stuffed. After dinner, searching to blow off some steam, we sat around and had a few more beers before calling it a night. Since we are all so spread out in our homestays, it was nice to relax and get to know some of the other participants. I feel like I am not only learning a lot about Chinese culture, but also the cultures of the other participants. This is a great group with a great mix of people, and I am thankful to be a part of it.

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