Walled villages of Hong Kong

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Main entrance of Tai Wai Village
Model of San Wai (新圍) aka. Kun Lung Wai (覲龍圍), displayed in Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

Once common throughout China, walled villages can still be found in southern China and Hong Kong. Most of the walled villages in Hong Kong are located in the New Territories. In Punti Cantonese, Wai (圍, Walled) and Tsuen (村, Village) were once synonyms, hence most place names which include the word 'wai', were at some point in time a walled village.

History[edit]

During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the shore of Guangdong suffered from pirates. The area of Hong Kong was particular vulnerable to pirates' attacks. Winding shores, hilly lands and islands and far from administrative centres made Hong Kong an excellent hideout for pirates. Villages, both Punti and Hakka, built walls against pirates. Some villages even protected themselves with cannons.

Layout[edit]

Walled villages in Hong Kong are characterised by row houses arranged in a square or rectangular block, where the parallel rows of houses are separated by narrow lanes.[1]

Notable walled villages[edit]

Kat Hing Wai[edit]

Historic plan of Kat Hing Wai walled village in Kam Tin.
Main article: Kat Hing Wai

Kat Hing Wai (吉慶圍) is a noted Punti walled village in Yuen Long District of Hong Kong.[citation needed] It often mistakenly believed to be Hakka, whose people have similar traditions.[citation needed] However the Punti people were from Southern China and the first to settle in Hong Kong. Kat Hing Wai's residents speak Cantonese, rather than Hakka.[citation needed] Popularly known as Kam Tin, from the name of the area, it is home to about 400 descendants of the Tang Clan, who built the village back in the 17th century.

Kat Hing Wai is a quasi-rectangular (100 m x 90 m) walled village. As a family stronghold, Kat Hing Wai has served the Tangs well through the centuries, protecting the residents against bandits, rival clans, and wild tigers. In the Qing Dynasty, a five-metre high blue brick wall and four cannon towers were added to defend against bandits. Today, the village is still completely surrounded by 18-inch-thick walls,[citation needed] outside which are the remains of a moat. However, most houses within the walls have been rebuilt in recent years. There is only one narrow entrance, with a pair of iron gates.

Tsang Tai Uk[edit]

Tsang Tai Uk: external view
Main article: Tsang Tai Uk

Tsang Tai Uk (曾大屋), also known as Shan Ha Wai, is another well-known Hakka walled village in Hong Kong, and one of the best preserved. It is located close to the south of the Pok Hong Estate, not far from the Lion Rock Tunnel Road. Built in the 1840s, it was constructed in 1848 as a stronghold for the Tsang Clan. It is a preserved Hakka fortified village in Sha Tin. It is said to have taken 20 years to build the village. The village is built with granite, grey bricks and solid timber.

Sheung Shui Wai[edit]

Main article: Sheung Shui Wai

Sheung Shui Wai (上水圍), also known as Sheung Shui Heung (上水鄉), is one of the very few rural settlements having retained its original moat which was built in 1646. Characterized by its magnificent moat and landscape setting, the walled village is the core of the Liu clan, of which ancestors came originally from Fujian during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368). The village is located in Sheung Shui.

Fanling Wai[edit]

Houses reflecting in a pond at Fanling Wai.
Main article: Fanling Wai

Fanling Wai (粉嶺圍) is a walled village in Fanling built by the Pang (彭) Clan. It is recognisable with the distinctive pond and layout including features such as cannons and watchtowers. All these elements were crafted to form an integral part of the village setting. Fanling Wai is the centre of the Pang Clan who arrived in Hong Kong late in the Song Dynasty.[2]

Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen[edit]

Main article: Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen

Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen (衙前圍村) is a walled village in Wong Tai Sin, New Kowloon. It is the only walled village left in the urban built-up areas of Hong Kong. On 18 July 2007, the government announced its plans to redevelop Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen.[3]

List of walled villages[edit]

A village name ending in "Wai" usually indicates a walled village, but in some cases the walls have been partly or totally demolished. Remaining fully or partially walled villages in Hong Kong include:

North District[edit]

Ma Wat Wai
Wall of Lo Wai.

Sha Tin District[edit]

Tai Po District[edit]

Fui Sha Wai

Tsuen Wan District[edit]

Tuen Mun District[edit]

Wong Tai Sin District[edit]

Yuen Long District[edit]

Central axle of Sheung Cheung Wai, seen from the village gate, with the typical shrine at the end of the lane.
A narrow lane in Nam Pin Wai, typical of Hong Kong walled villages.
  • The "Three Wais" of Ping Shan:[19]
  • Shan Ha Tsuen (山下村), in Ping Shan[21]
  • Chung Sam Wai (中心圍), in Wang Chau
  • In Ha Tsuen area:
    • Mong Tseng Wai (輞井圍)
    • Sha Kong Wai (沙江圍)[22]
    • Sik Kong Wai (錫降圍)
    • Shek Po Wai (石步圍), in Shek Po Tsuen (石步村)
  • In Kam Tin area:
  • In Shap Pat Heung:
    • Ma Tin Tsuen (馬田村)
    • Muk Kiu Tau Tsuen (木橋頭)
    • Pak Sha Tsuen (白沙村)
    • Shui Tsiu San Tsuen (水蕉新村)
    • Tin Liu Tsuen (田寮村)
  • In Yuen Long Kau Hui area: (the area is part of Shap Pat Heung)
    • Nam Pin Wai (南邊圍)
    • Sai Pin Wai (西邊圍)
    • Tai Wai Tsuen (大圍村)
    • Ying Lung Wai (英龍圍)
  • In Pat Heung area:
    • Wang Toi Shan Wing Ning Lei (橫台山永寧里)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]