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LIJIANG

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.
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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 heritages

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, located 30 km northwest of Lijiang city with an altitude of 5600 meters above sea level, is the 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.

The mountain 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

Known as 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.

Naxi Ancient Music

The divinity on the plateau fosters the people living there with artistic quality and poetic mind. Besides poetry, calligraphy and 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.


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