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Lijiang Ancient Town

Part view of Lijiang Ancient TownLijiang Ancient Town locates on the plateau of 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) above the sea level. It is surrounded by Lion Mountain in the west, Elephant and Golden Row Mountains in the north; and it has vast fertile fields in the southeast. With crystal clear water running through, the town seems like a big jade ink slab, hence got the alias the Town of Big Ink Slab (Dayanzhen).

 

History of Lijiang Ancient Town

Lijiang Ancient Town was originally a village built in the late Song Dynasty and the early Yuan Dynasty on a concept of a network of canals that were intended to offer water to each household. The source of the water is the Black Dragon Pool. The town covers an area of 3.8 square kilometers (912 acres). Kubla Khan the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty set his reign here and during his reign Lijiang was on a fast developmental way and became the political, cultural, and educational center in this area, playing a very important role in the trading activities among Yunnan, China hinterland, Tibet, India and many other Asian countries.

The layout of Lijiang Ancient Town is unique, being a perfect blend of Han, Bai, and Tibetan styles. This kind of layout is unusual in China. It springs partly from the necessity of having the streets and alleyways conform to the special waterways and partly due to the blend of architecture styles where no single style, with its otherwise traits layout, would dominate - each of the three styles of architecture and layout is adjusted to accommodate the other two, with the result that a genuine fusion is achieved. With free-style and flexible layout of the town, the houses are close and diverse, and the lanes are narrow and meandering. Naxi people pay much attention to the decoration, the commodious and applied houses are mostly timber and tile structure compound with a garden, each has engraved vivid figures of people and animals on doors and windows, beautiful flowers and trees in the garden. Street in Lijiang Ancient Town

Lijiang Ancient Town has no protective city walls, about which there is an interesting story. Lijiang had been under control of the hereditary Mu family for over 500 years. In Chinese character 'Mu'(木) which stands for the governor of Lijiang is put into a frame (represents the city wall), you get the character 'Kun'(困) which means 'siege' or 'predicament'. This would mean that the governing Mu family and their descendants would always be trapped like a rat in a hole. Therefore Old Town Lijiang was never given a city wall.

 

Lijiang Ancient Town Tour

As a well-preserved old city of ethnic minorities with brilliant culture, the Lijiang Ancient Town was put in the list of the World's Relics by the World Cultural Heritage Commission of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) on December 3rd, 1997.