The formation of “Wai” and “Li” (Pàtios and Becos) appear in old times, where business monopoly deadlock released after the Second Opium War; (Speaking of the prosperity of the relationship between the Thirteen Hongs of Canton and the Chinese merchants). After the war in the 16th century, Chinese communities gradually began direct trade with foreigners. These communities began to earn “big money” and gradually settled their family root in Macau. Similar buildings co-existed in Guangzhou and Macau there after. Let’s say Xiguan House in Guangzhou and the famous Mandarin House in Macau (Zheng Family house). They were all built by famous and wealthy businessmen’s huge investments.
At that time, Macau split down zones where the Portuguese lived (Nam Van, Praia Grande) and the area where the Chinese lived densely (Along North Bay, Baìa Norte). Most densely populated Asian regions have evolved under anarchy planning. The idea of ”Pàtios” refers to alleyways stayed bonding with each other, with only one access.
Those magnificent and beautiful buildings co-existed under such trading influences, that merchants began to stay for a living. It was a kind of trend in old Macau days. Viewed from the exterior of the building attached with great importance, applying the simple living concept of group gatherings, and the care for each other. These buildings seemed to be quite similar to courtyards, placed with great importance on grouped society living spaces; Perhaps they felt like a home with people gathered from the same province to Macau and explore the great heavens! Such beautiful living scene in the old days and the close connection between people could be felt in those dilapidated historic sites.
Features of surroundings and indoor compartments
Predicted most of the residents from rich families. From the facade design of the building, originated from the Ling Nan architectural series. Those big families has big ego about their wealthiness, all buildings were quite tall and enormous; mostly made with green bricks. Many exquisite oil paintings and carved designs added on the exterior walls. The roof tiles were hand-made, quite unique in a way. It is fairly distinctive on the rooftop have used painted oil paintings, calligraphy and colored painting, poetry and distinctive grey carvings. They are very particular on kind of used brick materials; the detailed material used on the roof tile tubes can tell came from a wealthy family’s idea.
All buildings are quite tall and cut with tiled roofs. The usable area of each house is not large. From doorway to the end compartment way, referred as “panel rooms”. All kitchens, toilets, and backyards are located at the end of the house. It takes a very narrow staircase to reach the second floor, which yet, the space is quite small. Relatively, the ceiling is quite high, which is conducive to air circulation. In the summer, fans or air conditioners not required, the whole place went ventilated and cool.
Late after, most of them went sub-rented out. The situation was similar to that of the Zheng family’s house in the main street, Travessa do Auto Novo. The subdivided rooms damaged to some extent; similar to what we see now.
The four famous “Pàtios” in Rua da Praia do Manduco
I am particularly fond of Manduco area; especially with the four famous buildings: Pátio da Ilusão, Pátio do Bonzo, Pàtio das Seis Casas and Patio do Sal. The label indicates the living environment of Macau that time, which already existed in the eighteenth century, and has huge historical values; with tiny, little bits and pieces of Chinese social life scene shown in the past. It is a pity that most of the buildings are now completely unrecognisable. These dilapidated buildings have even experienced collapses. I have lived in Macau for so many years, and hardly heard such amazing local cultural buildings still exist today. Especially in the old district of Manduco for a century. When saw these old buildings went almost abandoned and ignored; I was deeply felt with sorrows.
Pàtio do Sal
I walked five minutes from the dense hawker streets of Manduco alleyways. Went totally disappointed with the hollowed site, wrapped in fence hoarding when seen. When turned round and found was the old site of Pàtio do Sal, I was filled with extreme joy. Same time found most of the doorways locked up. Seemed that all the residents had moved away. The old builders’ billboards hung up their banners, seems like emptied out for many years. .
At the entrance, the stone wall and the stone door knocker used to install enlarged wooden door remained. Some remnants of painted craftsmanship preserved on the door wall; and green brick buildings were seen. The three-storey green brick houses are relatively rare.
Pàtio do Sal, known “Chi Wo Lei”. The name of the Portuguese street is Beco do Sal; “Sal” means salt; Residents in the past could engaged in salt-related industries.
According to Wikipedia, Pàtio do Sal belongs to a family surname named Ho. The gilded roofs and grey carvings fully utilised, and very particular on materials, carvings and decorations. In the eighteen century, the famous merchant Ho Wing Gwai started shipping from Panyu to Macau. Three buildings built on Pàtio do Sal; and five three-storey buildings built after Sal House for future generations to live in.
Claimed Ho Wing Gwai descendant is Ho Chio Ming, the former procurator in charge. The Ho’s family lived in Macau for several generations. The original residence is located in Sai GuiChi and Lai Fong Sin Wai, namely Fong Sin Wai No.1.
Pátio do Bonzo
Pátio do Bonzo – Bonzo means “monk”. “Nam Mo” equivalent to “La Mo”. And “La Mo Lou” refers to Taoist officials. Believed many “La Mo Lou” lived here. The main street named Rua da Aleluia outside Bonzo. “Aleluia” means praise to the Lord in the Catholic Church. It is a street with strong Chinese and Western cultures coexists with Pátio do Bonzo; It represents the symbol of harmonious coexistence of Chinese and Western religions.
The street view is now completely different; the monuments and cultural relics are no longer there. Instead, illegal parking spaces for motorcycles and a piece of abandoned land surrounded by fences left behind. The surrounding area replaced by a tenement building with many layers of high and low walls full of flower cages.
There is a U-shaped yellow line illegal parking lane at the entrance and exit on one way road. The stone-made door frames at the two entrances and exits only left a few dilapidated stone carvings and painted paintings. The remaining green brick and wooden buildings almost damaged, and the entire door frame has been painted with bright yellow paint. It is really sad. The door arch is almost the only representative of the only remaining building in Bonzo.
The next article will continue to explore the two remaining Pátios and Becos: Pátio do Ilusão and my favorite Patio das Seis Casa.