Lijiang, the old Town, also named Dayan (Big Inkslab)
Town, covering an area of 3.8 square km, is located in
southeast of the Lijiang autonomous county, leaning on
the Lion Mountain in the west and Xiangmian Mountain in
the north. It was firstly built at the very beginning
of the Yuan dynasty when the first emperor of Yuan dynasty,
Hu Bilei led his army on a southern expedition to Yunnan
province. Retained an historic townscape of high quality
and authenticity, it is a town of minorities rarely found
in China and was preserved intact on a highland of 2400
meters above sea level. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain,
30 km northwest to the old Town, reflects its snowy cap
on the clear streams and forms the beautiful scenery of
the whole area.
The township is
famous for its unique layout. Combining the architecture styles
of Han, Tibetan, Bai and other minorities, the old
town still preserves in its overall structure and the traditional
natural aesthetics of the Naxi people and their life. Crisscrossed
by crystal-clear rivers and meandering cobbled streets, the
town takes Sifang Street as its center, spreads out in all
direction. The streets and houses are built along the lie
of mountains and the river flows, and their form is variant
and diverse. Most of the dwellings are brick-and-tile structures
with carved doors and painted windows. Traffic across the
rivers is facilitated by a large number of tiny stone bridges.
Well-known to the world for "each of the household is
built by the stream and surrounded by willow trees",
the town is reputed as the "Oriental Venice" and
"Suzhou in Highland".
The charm of the
old town also lies in its ethnic culture and folk custom full
of fresh tinge and traditional features. The Naxi people have
adhered to the wisdom handed down from the old Dongba civilization,
which considered humans and Nature were brothers. The ancient
town looks unsophisticated and picturesque with the environment
of waterways and mountains, thus gaining the popularities
from both domestic and foreign tourists. In December 1986,
the State Council designated the town as the famed ancient
historical and cultural city of a national caliber. In 1997,
the UNESCO put Lijiang on a list of the world's major cultural
Dragon Snow Mountain
Snow Mountain, located 30 km northwest of Lijiang city
with an altitude of 5600 meters above sea level, is
highest mountain on the southern bank of the Yangtze
River. There are totally 13 snow-covered peaks in this
mountain ranges. Snow - storms frequently rage on this
mountain area. Shanzidou Peak, the main peak of the
mountain, with an altitude of 5,596 meters is especially
clad in white snow all the year round.
extends 35 km from south to north and 12 km from west
to east, producing different altitudes in the mountain.
Owing to conspicuous three-dimensional climate caused
by different altitude, various trees and rare animals
living in different climates can live together in this
mountain It is estimated that half of Yunnan's 13,000
plant species, 400 kinds of trees, dozens types of flowers,
and one-third of China's known species of medicinal
herbs can be found here. When the spring comes, the
mountain bursts into bloom when the camellias and azaleas
start flowering. Herders take their cattle, goats, sheep,
and yaks to graze on its slopes. The mountain is a holy
place for the Naxi people, a soul of the tribe. Access
to the top of the mountain is provided by a cable car
from the foot of the mountain to Dragon Spruce Meadow.
Viewing on top of the mountain, with its main peak thrusting
into the clouds, it appears magnificent and sublime.
Now, the mountain has become a nice place for snow sightseeing,
mountaineering and scientific investigations.
Lijiang Mural or Baisha Mural, these frescos, distributed
in the temples of such towns as Baisha, Dayan, Shuhe,
Zhonghai, Yangxi and Xuesong, were made in succession
from the early Ming dynasty to the reign of Emperor
Qianlong in the Qing dynasty. Due to the prosperous
economy in the Ming dynasty, people of Naxi minority
began to assimilate the culture of other ethnic groups
and developed their own. Lijiang mural is the crystallization
of such efforts. According to the survey of He Zairui,
a Naxi artist, the six mural paintings stored in the
Dajue Palace of Shuhe are a reflection of both Taoism
and Buddhism. Produced by a painter of Han nationality,
the paintings vividly show the variety of characters.
The frescos of Dabaoji Palace in Baisha are regarded
as the centerpiece of Lijiang Mural.
What to be
treasured in the Lijiang Mural is the realistic style
employed by the artists of Han, Tibet and Naxi, who
took subject matters from daily life instead of concentrating
on religion. The frescos vividly reproduce the scenes
of daily life such as dancing, weaving, fishing, felling
trees, killing pigs and etc. The mural paintings also
draw statues of officers, criminals, travelers and so
on, who are the miniature of the social life. Besides,
such subject matters as running horses, peacocks spreading
feathers and blooming flowers of lotus, peony, camellia
and plum blossom are all vivid and true to life.
on the plateau fosters the people living there with
artistic quality and poetic mind. Besides poetry, calligraphy
painting, the artistic skill that seems to be born with
the people there is music. Naxi ancient music is a kind
of classic music widely popular with the Naxi minority.
The mixture of holy tune of Daoist, Confucians ceremonies
and the literary lyric and topics from poets in Chinese
Tang and Song dynasty comes as the feature and uniqueness
of this music. It was praised by the contemporary is
the "living fossil of music". Naxi ancient
music regarded as the "typical Chinese classical
music" and "symphonies of Chinese style"
by some foreign experts. Interestingly, the music from
Central Plains are reserved and kept alive as a result
of geographical isolation while its inland counterpart
was transformed and lost during the changing history.
Today, folk musicians have already make Naxi Music into
popular folk music. There are at least four full orchestras
of elderly men in and around Lijiang, and within the
county there are scores of folk bands playing the ancient
music that has been blended with Naxi flavor.