One of my favorite days was exploring the winding unnamed streets and alleys of the Changdian Hutong. It was challenging walking leisurely with the scooters, bicycles and cars weaving between each pedestrian. The Hutongs 10 ft. walk/driveway have their own rules and rhythm, and it’s not on the downbeat. After visiting several artist studios, I found one gentleman quietly practicing his calligraphic lettering. We communicated briefly with limited vocabulary and my trusty translator app and he began the creative process. A enlightening experience as he carefully folded the paper, filled his brush and gracefully painted each character.
Hutong now means a lane or an alley, formed by rows of siheyuan (a compound with buildings around a courtyard) where old Beijing residents lived. The word “hutong” originates from the word “hottog” which means “a well” in Mongolian, in ancient times villagers dug a well and then lived around it. Ruru Zhou