China Dali City:
Dali is the only Bai autonomous prefecture in China. Living on its 29,500 square kilometers of including the Bai, Han ,Yi,and Hui. Of the 3.3 million population, 50 percent are people of the minority groups, and the remaining 50 is precent , people of the Han. The population of the Bai minority groups accounts for one-third of the total.
The prefecture if the birtheplace if the history and culture of Yunnan Province. It has a time-honored history. As early as the Neolithic Age, ancestors of the Bai, Yi,and and other minority groups began to settle there. When the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B. C.)unified China, it brought the Dali area into its territory . Durying the Han Dynasty (206 B. C.-A. D. 220),a prefecture and counties were established in the area. Nanzhao State that appeared around Erhai Lake lasted for 515 years between the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
At that time ,Dali was the political, economic, and cultural center of Yunnan Province. At present, the ancient town of Dali and the Weishan county town are famous historical and cultural towns in China.
The prefecture features a splendid culture. People of various ethnic groups represented by the Bai minority group, were under a long-time influence of the culture in the Central Plains. They carried out extensively culture contacts with people of various ethnic groups in the border area and fostered a brilliant culture of Nanzhao and Dali states. The prefecture became a ¡°land of historical documents,¡± thriving with talented people. It was referred to as ¡°an ancient capital at the crossroad of culture in Asia.¡± There are a rich collection of culture relics and historical sites, a great variety of unearthed artifacts, and a large number of well-preserved unique historical buildings.
The prefecture also boasts of rich folk customs, such festivals and celebrations as the unprecedented Third Month Fair, the joyful Raosanling (Walking around Three Souls) Festival, the Hudie (Butterfly)Fair, the three courses of tea services with singing and dancing, the grand Torch Festival, the unique Benzhu (village God) Festival, the Pilgrimage-Making Festival which attracts many people to Jizu and Weibao mountains, the Shibao mountain Singing Contest full of wit and humor, the lively Festive Lantern Fair held in the first lunar month in Midu County as well as the Shuahai (Playing on the Lake) Fair, the Zaiyang (Rice Seedling Transplanting) Festival, the Gegen Fair, the the Eighth of the Second Month Fair ,and the Chaohua (Flower Admiration) Fair. Each of the fairs and festivals has a beautiful legend of its own, and each legend is of great appeal. At present, the fairs and festivals have become gatherings for people to conduct businesses and trade or participate in cultural and sports activities.
The prefecture abounds in natural resources. There grow more than 3,000 species of seed plants. It is known as a home to azalea, orchid, and camellia. The prefecture has a forest coverage of 48.7%. It has an abundant growth of forests of economic value and fruit trees. It is rich in mineral and hydro-energy resources.
The prefecture commands a favorable geographical position. Dali City , the capital of the prefecture, is 338 kilometers from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. The distance of the air route between the two cities is only 275 kilometers. Dali City was a vital communications hub on the ancient road between Sichuan Province and India and an ancient bridle path for the shipment of tea. It was the only passage on the southern route of the ancient Silk Road in China leading to Southeast and South Asia. A tndia and an ancient bridle path for the shipment of tea. It was the only passage on the southern route of the ancient Silk Road in China leading to Southeast and South Asia. A transportation network of highways, railroads, and air routes has taken shape. Dali city is a communications hub and a material distribution center in western Yunnan Province and a thoroughfare from Yunnan to Tibet in the north and Southeast and South Asia in the south. The prefecture has an enchanting landscape.there are many places of historic interest and scenic beauty. Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake, Jizu Mountain, Shibao Mountain, Weibao Mountain, and Cibi Lake are the five major scenic resorts. Dali City is among the first group of top tourist cities in china. There is neither excessive heat in summer nor intolerable cold in winter, with a mean annual rainfall of 1,000 millimeters. A spring-like climate prevails throughout the year.
The prefecture has a broad prospect of development. The diligent, kindhearted, and intelligent people of various ethnic groups have lived in the prefecture, a miraculous and beautiful land, and created a new, happy life today. There are expressways , railroads, and airports that link the prefecture with the rest of China. In 2001, the prefecture registered a gross domestic product of 14.5 billion yuan and a fiscal revenue of 2.2 billion yuan, holding third and second places among China¡¯s 30 autonomous prefectures inhabited by the people of minority groups. With the deepening of the development of West China, a strategy formulated by the Party and state, the prefecture will become a hot spot for investment in the southwestern border area. The people of various ethnic groups there will advance toward an infinite beautiful future alongside people in other parts of China.
Men of letters in and outside of China, including the Italian Marco Polo, Xu Xiake, and Guo Moruo, visited the prefecture and were overwhelmed with admiration by its unique charm. They left behind them many literary works in praise of the prefecture. A Painting Scroll by Zhang Shengwen from Dali State is a priceless treasure in China¡¯s painting collection. The feature film Five Godlen Flowers with a theme on the Bai minority group and a novel by Jin Yong made the prefecture known far and near. Water Running in a Riverlet, a folk song in Midu County won a high reputation for the prefecture in China and abroad. All these helped enrich China¡¯s cultural house and have become immortal literary works.
A picture book like this one is far from enough to help people understand the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. The book edited by the Tourism Administration and Foreign Affairs Office of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture features a collection of the beautiful pictures by a photographer, serving as a window on or a boat which will carry the tourists into the prefecture, and ancient, miraculous, and picturesque land.
The time-honored history of Dali will make tourists to the prefecture lost in thought, its brilliant culture will make them reluctant to leave, the mind thronged with thoughts, and the magnificent natural landscape will make them to feel that there is no time for them to take in with their eyes. The hospitable people of various ethnic groups in the prefecture welcome guests from afar.
Dali features a magnificent sensry, with Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake under the jurisdiction of Dali City, the capital of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, as its representatives. Since ancient times, Dali has been known as a ¡°land of wind, flowers, snow, and moonlight and a city of mountains and waters.¡± Cangshan Mountain is the main peak at the southern end of the Yunling Mountains. It extends more than 50 kilometers from south to north and has an average elevation of over 3,500 meters. Its 19 steep peaks stand like a screen, with the highest towering 4,122 meters. These mountain peaks are separated by 18 swift streams to form many scenic attractions, such as the Qilongnu Pond as well as Xima Pool, Huanglong Pool, Heilong Pool, and other alpine morainal lakes 3,800 meters above sea level. Climate varies at different heights in the mountain. The summit is covered with snow under a blue sky while white clouds lingers halfway up the mountain like jade belts. Cangshan Mountain boasts of a rich vegetation of numerous rate flowers, trees, and other plants. It is called a national alpine botanical garden. Erhai Lake lies at the foot of Cangshan Mountain. Like a crescent embracing Cangshan Mountain, the picturesque lake stretches for 41.5 kilometers from south to north and 3 to 9 lilometers from east to west. It has a water surface of 251 square kilometers. Men of letters in ancient and modern times often called Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake¡°Jade Erhai and Silver Cangshan.¡± Erhai lakes, and nine twists and turns. Of which jinsuo, Yuji and Chiwen islets are the best places for people to explore the scenic beauty.
The area around Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake has a mild and humid climate, suitable for the growth of plants. Flowers are raised in every household, a custom of the Bai people. Xiaguan at the southern end of Erhai Lake is a wind gap, where strong wind blows the year round. Dali is known for its wind, flowers, snow, and moonlight. Snow lingers on the top of Cangshan Mountain in summer, green fields extends around Erhai Lake, the blowing of wind makes people feel refreshed, and the moonlit-Erhai Lake is a vast expanse of silvery white. A saying that has been circulated through the ages goes, ¡°Xiguan is known for its wind and Shangguan, for its flowers. Flowers in Shangguan sway in the wind from Xiaguan. Cangshang Mountain is famous for its snow and Erhai Lake, for the moonlight. The snow on the mountain is reflected by the moonlight in the lake.¡±
¡°The Cang¡¯er Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake) Scenic Resort is surrounded by various scenic attractions. Binchuan County to the east features Jizu Mountain, a holy land of Buddhism known in Southeast Asia. Xiangyun County to the southeast has Shuimu Mountain known for the Forest of Buddhist Tablets from Dali State and Qinghua Cave, a paleoanthropological site. Weibao Mountain in Weishan County to the south, the origin of Nanzhao State, boasts of Taoist structures. There are ruins of an ancient path and Mulianhua Mountain in Yongping County to the southwest. Yangbi County and Yunlong County to the west are noted for the Shimenguan Scenic Resort and ancient paths, bridges, and an area with a dense growth of vegetation for scientific investigations. To the north are the Jiuqita Scenic Resort on Cibi Lake in Eryuan County, the Shizhong Mountain Grotto Scenic Resort in Jianchuan County, and the Longtan Cave, rural scenery, and a tourist area featuring the customs and things of the minority groups.
The beautiful natural environment has helped the Bai people cultivated a noble and graceful aesthetic taste. They are quick-witted and nimble fingered, good at making traditional and special products with local resources.
Marble from Cangshan Mountain has been quarried for more than 1,000 yeas since the Tang Dynasty. The stone is of fine quality and has unique veins. It appears in a great variety. When polished, it presents various natural patterns, such as mountains, rivers, plants ,birds ,animals, and figures. The stone is processed into screens or decorations for high quality modern furniture and ancient buildings. White marble is a fine material, which is carved into pen containers. Ashtrays, flower vases, tea sets, and ornaments.
Tie dyeing of the Bai ethnic group is a time honored handicraft. It uses indigo as the dyestuff. First, white cloth is tied and sewn into various patterns by hand and then dyed. Designs of bees, butterflies. Plum blossoms, fish ,or insects thus appear with an artistic effect that can not be achieved in painting.
Wood carving in Jianchuan County is a 1,000-year-old traditional handicraft, known for its exquisite designs and multi-layer carving. The carvings come out in more than 100 designs including Twin Phoenixs Turning to the Sun, A Magpie Perching on Top of a Plum, A Soaring Dragon Holding the Moon, and one Hundred Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix. Most of the carvings are used to decorate lattice doors and classical furniture.
Known for their exquisite workmanship and novel design, gold, silver, and copper ornaments from Hequng County are matchless handicrafts of the Bai ethnic group. They are manufactured as jewelry, amulets, wine sets or are mounted on sheaths of the local Bai, Tibetan, Miao, and Han people. They are loved by people of other ethnic groups in China and people in neighboring countries.
Other traditional handicrafts from the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture include embroidery, ink slabs, pottery, and porcelain.
The 1,000-year-old town of Dali is known as a shining pearl inlaid in the southwestern highland. The town is located between Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake.A poet praised the ancient town in a verse, ¡°Pavilions and towers appear above the cloud and the town spreads between the mountain and the lake.¡±
The ancient town of Dali was originally called Yangjumie Town. It was built by the ancestors of the Bai ethnic group. In779,Yi Muxun, the sixth king of Nanzhao State, moved his capital from Taiye Town to the ancient town of Dali. He ordered the construction of the new capital by imitating the layout of Chang¡¯an, then the capital of the Tang Dynasty in the Central Plains. The outer city has six streets and three markets and was inhabited by merchants from various places. The square inner city in the middly is called Yeyu City. It is four li in circumference and was where the royal family and officials lived. More structures were added later by kings of Nanzhao and Dali states .from 823 to 859 ,in the reign of Quan Youfeng, the tenth king of Nanzhao State,Wuhua Tower was constructed west of the ancient Dali town, The magnificent tower has a circumference of five li and can accommodate as many as 10,000 people. Later,Qianxun Pagoda was erected at the Chong sheng Temple in the northwest .By the time of Dali State, construction of the other two pagodas at the temple was completed. After the founding of Dali State,Yeyu City was renamed Dali and continued to be the capital ,which is now known as the ancient town of Dali.
For 600 years, during Nanzhao and Dali state, Dali was the political,economic, and cultural center in Yunnan Province, According to a textual research by an American scholar ,Dali held 13th place among the 14 mayor capital cities in the world in the year 1,000. The ancient town has survived the change of dynasties. It¡¯s two city towers that face each other in the south and north; the time honored three pagodas; the residence of Du Wenxiu.commander of a peasant uprising during the Qing Dynasty (1644--1911),that was known as the ¡°Forbidden City¡±; and the checkerboard-like anyout of the nine streets and 18 lanes show the charm of Dali as an ancient capital city.
Dali Attractive points:
Located in an area with high-elevation mountains, the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture has rich animal and plant resources. Various plant communities in Cangshan, Laojun, Wubao, Jizu, and Baotai mountains as well as other nature reserves remain in their primitive state. These mainly refer to the pine, fir, katus, oak, nanmu, Manchurian catalpa, poplar, and other arbor trees which come out in different species. For instance, the fir in Jizu Mountain is composed of Keteleeria fortunei, Cryptomeria fortunei, Taxus chinensis, and other species. The forests are roamed by deer, muntjac , blue sheep, mustang cattle, wild boar, fox, and other wild animals. Wubao Mountain in Yunlong County features Muntiacus crinifrons, lesser panda, giant swan, leopard, alpine snow cock, and other rare animals under state protection.
The Dali area abounds in flowering plants. All the eight major flowering plants of Yunnan Province including camellia, azalea, yulan magnolia, fairy primrose, lily, gentian, and integrifious poppy can be found in their natural habitats or are cultivated in Dali. There are 41 azalea species growing from the foot up to the snow-covered slopes 4,100 meters above sea level on Cangshan Mountain. Their blossoms vary in shape and in 16 colors including red, white, yellow, and purple. Some of the species are unique to Cangshan Mountain. Dali has a long history of camellia cultivation. There are more than 40 species including hentiangao, songzike, zipaoyudai, and jiuxinshibaban. When the camellia blooms in late winter and early spring, the blossoms add another touch to Dali¡¯s enchanting scenery. Lily, also a famous flowering plant in Dali, varies in species. In recent years, lily raising has become an occupation and many experts in flower raiding have appeared. Take Li Yinglong, a Bai lily raiser in Eryuan County. He is known in and outside of China for the unique lily species he keeps and won 15 gold medals in succession at the China Lily Expositions. Twelve of the species he bred were included in the China Famous Lily Directory.