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              Longtangs in Shanghai
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                            Longtang
              Longtang (lòng táng 弄堂) is the local term used by Shanghai (shàng hǎi 上海) people for Lilong (lǐ lòng 里弄). As "long" means a lane and "tang" means an important building or the front room of a house, "longtang" either means a lane that connects houses or a group of houses connected by lanes. According to elucidation, "longtang" might not so explicit as "Lilong"is, for the "Li" in "lilong" means neighbourhood, and people living in a longtang are actually living in a neighbourhood , but it is understandable.

              In longtangs, besides hawkings of snack there were hawkings of vegetable, fruit, bean curd, melon and egg, even live chicken and duck. Once or twice in a week, there would be hawking or rendering services, such as repairing shoes, mending coir ropes stretched on wooden bed frames or flicking of cotton quilt to make it fluffy. Every sort of trades would have their own melodic tune in hawking, people could identify them without stepping out to see. Apart from them, there were fortune-tellers and those begged for alms. Sometimes, in the still of the night.

              There were shrill hawkings of selling fried ginkgo or selling tin foils for the use of burning to the dead, occasionally there even were melancholy howlings for calling back the soul of a sick child. The houses in 1ongtangs, generally two storied, are proximately attached to each other in rows, sharing the same front and back lanes. People living along the same lane had the habit of nodding or greeting each other when passing by, some even had the mood to chat a little while. Once a hawking was heard, housewives of the same interest would come out, they commented and exchanged opinions on the quality of the goods and bargained or help their neighbour to bargain with the peddler, some of them also took this opportunity to gossip and exchange heresays of the neighbourhood forgetting what they intended to buy, The advantages of the longtang life lie in the good neighbourhood relationship, "good neighbours are more helpful than far away relatives"(yuǎn qīn bù rú jìn lín 遠親不如近鄰) proved to be true in Shanghai.

              For most of the Shanghai people at that time actually came from other places or cities. However the shortcoming was, as cited by Lu Xun (lǔ xùn 魯迅) in ditto essay,"...... for those who make a living on writing, if they fail in training themselves to be as calm as an ancient well, owing to the noise outside. They can write nothing." Moreover, in large longtangs different sorts of people and people with different interest mixed together, frequent contacts occasionally wou1d result in trouble and disputes. Shanghai people are often considered to be ones who are keen on conducting business. smooth in social contact and good in dealing with money. This probably due to the fact that many people of this city lived in such a delicate society of langtang since their childhood and consistently receiving education of handling relationship among different people.

              Longtang and the longtang houses were native products of Shanghai soon after the city was forced to be opened to the West as a treaty port. At the beginning. Chinese were not allowed to live in the foreign concessions. Later on the British found that relying on the small sum of Western residents at that time would not be able to tap the big potentiality of Shanghai becoming a metropolis.

              At the same time, incessant civil wars in China made a large number of wealthy Chinese refugees request to move into the foreign concessions. Then the authorities agreed to have them opened to the Chinese. But for the sake of management, large amount of collective dwellings were built in designate lots of land enclosed by walls. The house, similar in design as the English terrace house, but to suit the Chinese way of living are surrounded by house-walls including a courtyard at front. They were arranged in line like barracks, row after row and could easily be accessed by sub-lanes connected to the main-lane, while only the main-lane could lead to the city road outside through an iron grille gate. Nobody had the idea at that time that such a type of housing built at first for the convenience of management, had later became the main and typical type of housing in Shanghai, and finally turned to be the most active and important part of real estate business which had been the leading business of all of Shanghai's economic activities for the following decades of years.

              Large numbers of longtangs were built not only in the foreign concessions but also in the Chinese quarter around the concessions, their tota1 appearance made up the general physiognomy of the city of Shanghai, During the 1940s, out of 4.1894 millions of population in Shanghai. except those very rich (accounting 5% ) and those very poor (about one million), the majority of population. Nearly three millions, including white--collar Western and Chinese residents, lived in various types of longtangs. Even now although many of them are demolished when one stands high up looking over from above, what he can see are waves of the roof of longtang one after the other.

              Architecture, especially residential architecture, is the mirror of social life. In old Shanghai those who could live in a longtang house could only be people with fixed income. They had to be able to pay the monthly rent and tax for the house, in this case called the police tax. In the foreign concession, if one falled in payment, he must move out right away. Since the society was divided into different strata. the longtang houses were also classified into high, medium and low. Different ranks of longtang houses were indeed different in construction quality. but more ever were different in location, The longtang houses in Zhabei and Nanshi Districts were the lowest in rank, while those in Hongkou District were better, but those located along Bubbling well Road (Now Nanjing Road West 南京西路) and Avenue Joffre (now Huihai Road 淮海路)were the highest. There used to be what so called the “Upper Corner”(shàng zhī jiǎo 上只角) and the "Lower Corner"(xià zhī jiǎo 下只角) - of Shanghai, the "Upper" was referred to the best of location denoted above. and the "Lower" to the lower and lowest rank of location,

              The rent of houses in the two "Corners" could differ as much as to four or more than ten times. At the early stage, even the Chinese commercial buildings. such as banks, shops or the import and export firms managed by traders from Guangdong (guǎng dōng 廣東) and Ningbo (níng bō 寧波) also took the form of longtang but on a larger scale. They usually had three or five front rooms on both first and second floors with a courtyard in the middle and back rooms behind. While the lower floor was for business, the upper floor for living, the back rooms in the first floor used as dormitories for employees and the courtyard a makeshift storage. It was up to the 1930s, improvement of business systems and many new buildings for office use were huilt then this sort of longtang gradually turned into residential use.

              In those high-class longtang. Only a few children could be found playing around, and even fewer people passing by. Occasionally two or three maid servants or cooks chatting in low voices by one side, or the gate of One house opened and a host bidding farewells to his guests, those who were passing economic activities for the following decades of years. Large numbers of longtangs were built not only in the foreign concessions but also in the Chinese quarter around the concessions ,their tota1 appearance made up the general physiognomy of the city of Shanghai, During the 1940s, out of 4.1894 millions of population in Shanghai. except those very rich (accounting 59b ) and those very poor (about one million), the majority of population. nearly three millions, including white--collar Western and Chinese residents, lived in various types of longtangs.

              The diference of ranks of longtang could also be reflected in the life-style and culture in them. If you enter a longtang you will find urinals, snack stalls, flies flying in hordes, children fighting in groups, fierce turbulences and sharp curses. What a disorderly small world!" This was what Lu Xun wrote in his essay, "Children in Shanghai"(shàng hǎi ér tóng 上海兒童) to depict a longtang of the lowest class. Residents of such sort of longtang , in order to lessen the burden of ' rents or to earn some extra money, usually lot out their surplus rooms to others and became an "ni vang dong" (literary a second 1and1ord--a sublessors). Some even divided their houses into many small rooms, or bui1t attics above and had them let to people who came to Shanghai to make a living or to take refuge. Thus the longtang became very crowded, bad in living condition and frequent disputes occurred. A satirical play entitled "72 Tenants"(qī shí èr jiā fáng kè 七十二家房客) did give a vivid description of this sort of longtong. ln longtangs of the middle and middle-lower classes, there were a1so some "er fang dong" and "san fang ke" (sān fáng kè, 三房客, those who rented their rooms from the sublessor), but the 'er fang dong" here would choose their tenants. It is interesting to note that many progressive literary men from interior China at that time lived in the "tingzijian"(tíng zǐ jiān 亭子間), a small back room ill a longtang house, which is old in the winter and hot in the summer.

              This evolved the so called "Tingzijian Literature"(tíng zǐ jiān wén xué 亭子間文學) in the history of modern literature of China. "Tlngzijian Literature" is not anything that depicted tingzijian. But a term referred to a category of progressive literature written by some young writers who could only afford to live and work in the tough condition of a tingzijian but looked at the world with a new and realistic view. People nowadays when criticise the indifference of human relationship would like to talk about the good neighbourhood relationship of the past longtang as a universal model. In fact it was only partially true, for it seemed the higher the class of the longtang, the colder the relationship among residents. In those high-class longtang. Only a few children could be found playing around, and even fewer people passing by. occasionally two or three maid servants or cooks chatting in low voices by one side, or the gate of One house opened and a host bidding farewells to his guests, those who were passing by might cast a glance but tried not to pay attention.

              In some large longtangs there inhabited nearly a hundreds or hundreds of households, they were like cities in a city. Within them there were groceries, snack shops. barbershops, hot water sellers, tai1ors and even small industries, "Longtang factory"(lòng táng gōng chǎng 弄堂工廠) was one special feature of Shanghai. The owners of these factories were mostly' technical workers themselves, through the help of three or four apprentices, by careful design and fine workmanship, they could produce some very good and useful utensils and articles for daily use out from scraps cast away by the big factories. Their production had once played an important role in the small goods market in Shanghai. The present No. 8 Steel Works of Shanghai was actually set up on the basis of several longtang factories after 1949.

              The "longtang mansion"(lòng táng gōng guǎn 弄堂公館) was another special feature of Shanghai. In old Shanghai where public order was not good, Robbery, kidnap seemed not uncommon, thus some of the wealthy men were afraid to show their wealth, they did not like to build their mansion along the street, but built a longtang in front to conceal their mansion. The mansion usually was big in size, beautifully decorated inside but the outward appearance was made similar to the other houses. Such peculiarity seemed very different from the West as well as from people in interior China.

              Longtang was a product of Shanghai and belongs to the Shanghai people. It tells the story of Shanghai and reflects the culture, life-style and philosophy of Shanghai people, There were many types of lontang houses, and every one was a part of the whole. Reading the Shanghai lontangs is like reading the social history of Shanghai and the Shanghai people.

              In the recent years, Shanghai has been completing a floor area of l0 million square meters of new housing per year,but there are still 45% of the city popu1ation living in longtangs. As the city is now undergoing a large-scale reconstruction , those longtangs of comparative good quality will be conserved and equipped with modern amenities, those of very poor condition will be demolished and those in between will be reformed in different ways, such as preserving their appearance and at the same time making them suitable to modern living. In this period of great development and drastic change, it is meaningful and important to recall and discuss the relations between the Shanghai longtang. Shanghai people and Shanghai culture.

              上海弄堂

                   “薏米杏仁蓮心粥!”
                   “玫瑰白糖倫教糕!”
                   “蝦肉餛飩面!”
                   “五香茶葉蛋!”
                    這是魯迅先生在《弄堂生意古今談》中懷念20年代他初到上海時閘北一帶弄堂內外叫賣零食的聲音。他認為那些口號既漂亮又具藝術性,使人“一聽到就有讒涎欲滴之慨”。

                   “弄堂”是上海人對里弄的俗稱,“里弄房子”就是弄堂建筑。在弄堂里除了有叫賣零食點心之外,還有叫賣青菜、豆腐、瓜菜、雞蛋的,時而還有活雞活鴨;每隔幾天還有把服務送上門的修理棕棚、補皮鞋與彈棉花胎之類。他們各行業有各自的呼喚聲調,使人一聽便知道是什么行業的人來了。此外,還有算命的、化緣的;晚上,當夜深人靜時還有聲調凄涼的賣炒白果與賣長錠的,更有使人毛骨悚然的為家中病孩招魂的長嚎聲。由于弄堂房子家家戶戶緊挨著,共同分享屋前屋后的弄堂,平時出入照面時常會打個招呼或寒暄幾句。一有叫賣聲,抱有共同興趣的主婦就會應聲而 出,于是對貨色評頭論足、討價還價、交流觀點之聲不絕。更有借此機會交頭接耳,交換東家或西家的最新信息,把本來要賣東西的原意也忘掉了。它的優點是這里的生活富于鄰里感,鄰居相互幫助,親如一家特別是所謂上海人其實多為外來人,“遠親不如近鄰”在這里最能體現。缺點是,“對于靠筆墨為生的人們,卻有一點害處,假如你還沒有練到‘心如古井’,就可以被鬧得整天整夜寫不出什么東西來”(魯迅,同上文)。此外,在大型的弄堂里,居民魚龍混雜、人各有志,接近了就難免會生是非,一不小心就會惹出各種各樣的弄堂風波來。人們常說上海人善于處世、門檻精,可能與從小就處在這個微妙的小社會里,接受這個小社會關于人際關系的教育有關。

                    弄堂與弄堂房子是上海開埠后的土產。起初英國人只許中國人在租界工作,不同意居住。后來發現要發揮上??赡艹蔀槎际械臐摿?,僅僅靠那些為數不多的外僑(1865年在法租界的外僑為460人,英租界可能多一些)是不行的。那時恰逢太平天國運動進入江南(1853年),大量富有與中產階級的中國難民要求移入,于是租界當局順水推舟,公開向中國居民開放。為了便于管理,便在指定的地塊上興建大批集體住宅。房子為立帖式結構,像兵營一樣聯立成行,并由行列組成網絡,對內交通自如,對外只有總弄才能到達馬路,弄口設鐵門,可以隨時啟閉。沒有想到,這種原本始于方便管理、統一建造的集體住宅很快便發展成為綜合有東西方居住特色的上海弄堂,并在隨后的幾十年中成為上海經濟活動中最活躍與規模最大的房地產業的中堅。大規模建造的弄堂房子不僅租界有,華界亦有。至于它們的類型與各類型 的特色,這里就不贅述了,但從解放前上海418.94萬的居民來看,除了少數的外僑胞與中國富人(約占5%)住的花園住宅,與100余萬貧民住在城市邊沿用草、竹、蘆葦搭成的棚屋之外,絕大多數居民,包括中國與外僑的白領階層均住在各式弄堂中,總面積達兩千余萬平方米。無怪只要居高臨下,盡目所及是一片片櫛比鱗次、 此起彼伏、像波浪似的各式弄堂的屋面。

                    建筑是社會生活的鏡子,居住建筑尤其這樣。在上海能住得上弄堂的,至少也得是有固定收入者,否則無法交付每月到期必須繳納的房租與房捐(或稱巡捕捐、綠衣捐)。在舊上海,不交房鈿就要遷出,這是天經地義的事。 既然社會是分層次的,弄堂也有高、中、低之分。不同級別的弄堂房子在質量上雖有差別,但更重要的是地段。一般來說,位于閘北、南市的較差,虹口稍微好些,靜安寺路(今南京西路)與霞飛路(今淮海路)一帶最好。故上海有“上只角”、“下只角”之稱謂,“上只角”指城市西區的高級住宅,兩“角”的房租可以差三四倍以上。南京路中心地段的弄堂在早期時曾因其商業的價值而興旺,它們是上海最早的“商住樓”。當時無論是廣邦或寧邦的“字號”(進出口行)均集中于此。這些房子常為“三上三下”或“五上五下”,開間較大,前店后屋或下店上屋,前面的天井可作臨時貨棧之用,后來還有可供職工居住的“后樓”。30年代,隨著進出口業體制的更新與新型辦公樓的興建,這些弄堂逐漸淪為居住條件較差之列。

                     弄堂的級別還反映在弄堂里的生活與文化中。“倘若走進住家的弄堂里去,就看見便溺器、吃食擔,蒼蠅成群的在飛,孩子成隊的在鬧,有劇烈的搗亂,有發達的罵詈,真是一個亂哄哄的小世界。”(《上海兒童》)這無疑是魯迅先生對低級弄堂的寫照。在這樣的弄堂里,居民為了減輕房租負擔或干脆想通過房子來賺錢,總是把多余的房間分租出去,自己當起“二房東”來。也有索性把房子橫七豎八地劃分為小間,上面還要搭上閣樓,出租給外地到上海來謀生或逃難的人。因而這里人口密度高、成份雜、居住條件惡劣、是非多。諷刺劇《七十二家房客》就出于此。另外,本文之初談及的鄰里感特強的弄堂可能屬于中級或低級。這里也有“二房東”和“三房客”,但房東對房客是有所選擇的。有趣的是,當時許多為了逃避內地白色恐怖而躲到上海來的進步文人大多落腳在此類弄堂中的亭子間,于是出現了我國近代文學史中的一個小派別“亭子間文學”。“亭子間文學”并非描寫亭子間,而是這些住在朝北的、看不到陽光的、東冷夏熱的亭子間中的文人,在苛刻的生活條件下寫出來的現實主義進步文學。
                 
                    今天當人們懷念鄰里感時,常常會把上海的弄堂同鄰里感捆在一起,其實并不盡然??磥碓绞歉呒壍呐?,其人際關系也就越是淡漠。在那些寂靜而優雅的高級弄堂里,除了有三五個男孩在那里玩耍外,很少有人在此停步。偶爾有三兩個人聚在一起低聲談話則大多為某家的“娘姨”(保姆)或“大師傅”(廚師)。假如哪能一扇門忽然開了在迎賓或送客,甚至有些不尋常的活動時,人們也只是裝成漫不經心地遙望著,不會去圍觀。

                    有些大型的,擁有數百戶甚至成千戶的弄堂,儼然就像一個城中之城。里面有雜貨店、小吃店、理發店、裁縫店,甚至還有工廠。上海的“弄堂工廠”是上海工業與文化的一大特色。這些廠長大多為技術工人出身,帶著幾個徒弟,運用大廠扔下的邊腳料或下腳貨,經過因材施用,精心設計,認真制作。竟造出許多人們生活的必需品,并在小商品市場中占著重要席位。解放后的上鋼八廠便是以幾個“弄堂工廠”為基礎發展起來的。
               
                    上海弄堂還有一個特產,就是“弄堂公館”。過去在魚龍混雜、爾虞我詐的舊上海中, 人們必須學會一套自我保護的方法,“弄堂公館”就是其一。當時,有些富人在為自己建造大公館時,不是堂而皇之把公館建在大街上而是先在基地沿馬路一帶建一個弄堂,用以出租;自己的公館則建在弄堂末端,隱蔽起來。這些公館規模不小,內部考究,但在外型上卻同周圍的弄堂房子差不多。這說明上海人在住房問題上是同西方人與內地富紳不同的。

                    弄堂是上海的特產,是屬于上海人的。它記載了上海的故事,反映了上海人的文化、生活方式與心態。上海有各式弄堂房子,每種是上海作為一個整體的一個部分。閱讀上海弄堂,就如閱讀上海與上海人的社會歷史。

                    目前,盡管上海近幾年的住宅建設年達1000余萬平方米,但尚有45%左右的人住在舊社會遺留下來的弄堂中。當今,在上海正在進行著的大規模的城市改造中,有些質量較佳的弄堂將予保留或在保留中進行改造,有些危房簡屋或居住條件惡劣的將予拆除改造。在此大發展與大變化的時刻,檢討一下上海弄堂同上海人與上海文化的關系是很有意思的。

               

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