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Overview – Lijiang Ancient City
Dayan, commonly called the Lijiang Ancient City, is the historical center of Lijiang City, in Yunnan, China. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The town has a history going back more than 1,000 years and was once a confluence for trade along the “Old Tea Horse Caravan Trail.” Lijiang Ancient City is famous for its orderly system of waterways and bridges, a system fast becoming but a memory as the underground water table drops, probably due to over-building in the suburban areas.
Lijiang’s culture combines traditional Naxi culture, and incongruous elements learned from Ming dynasty Han Chinese traders who settled in the region centuries ago. Naxi people have kept alive a timber and mud-brick housing style, which they learned from Nanjing traders. Local carpenters still build elaborately constructed timber house frames from memory without blueprints or other diagrams.
These houses are often enhanced by detailed flower and bird carvings on the windows. Ethnic Bai artisans now make the carvings, but attention is given to depicting the flora and fauna of the four seasons in the traditional Han Chinese manner. Even impoverished farming families gather their resources to install carved windows and consider them more important than furniture for the house. The window panels are available for sale to tourists.
The Naxi people learned Chinese classical music from the visitors from Nanjing during the Ming Dynasty and continue to play that music even to this day, long after the art died out in other parts of China. The old musicians have been organized for regular performances in Dayan Old Town and less regular performances in the outlying villages.
Side by side with this well-preserved evidence of Han culture resides Naxi local culture, and this can be seen in the old town and on many street corners even today in the form of circle dances, attended by young and old from the local neighborhoods. Hakhi women lead the Dayan Old Town circle dances in local Naxi costume.
Circle dancing in costume is also a custom of the Tibetan people to the north of Lijiang and the Bai people to the south. Previously there were substantial Tibetan and Bai settlements in Dayan Old Town, but most of these people have been resettled to districts away from the tourist areas. Tibetan circle dancing can be seen occasionally in Dayan Old Town and more regularly in private gardens.
Greater Lijiang (including Dayan and two villages to the north, Baisha, and Shuhe, respectively) was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List on December 4, 1997.
Lijiang Ancient City, which is perfectly adapted to this key commercial and strategic site’s uneven topography, has retained a historic townscape of high quality and authenticity. Its architecture is noteworthy for the blending of elements from several cultures that have come together over many centuries. Lijiang also possesses an ancient water-supply system of great complexity and ingenuity that still functions effectively today.UNESCO
Ancient City Waterwheel is the landmark located at the entrance of Lijiang Ancient City.
Wangu Tower, located on the top of Lion Rock, is the manor building of the ancient Mu family. It is the first floor of an all-wood structure with one-pillar and unconnected roof in China. Many photographic films are taken from here. Ascend the building and you can overlook the magical and beautiful Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to the north.
Mu Mansion is the residence of the Mu family’s chieftain in Lijiang in the past dynasties and an important landmark of the Old Town of Lijiang. After hundreds of years of glory, most of them were destroyed by war. The remaining parts were severely damaged in the 1996 earthquake, and most of them are currently rebuilt.
Source: Your Local Specialists