31 km from Xiaguan, XIzhou town is located by the side of Erhai Lake. The architecture of the Bai ethnic minority in Dali, Yunnan Province always makes a strong impression on the visitors. Bai style architecture enjoys a long history, so it is one of traditional architectures in China.
It is said that one general of Wen Emperor of Sui Dynasty, Shi Wansui, settled his military forces here, so the city was called Shi City, and the nearby plain was called Shi Yan. At the time of Mou of Nanzhao Kingdom, the King built his royal palace here. Some archaeologists have once found in the town things of Nanzhao Kingdom such as tiles engraved with characters, thick tiles with cloth veins, and tiles with lotus flower veins.
The Square Street is the center of Xizhou Town. It is a small square surrounded by shops. Visitors may purchase souvenirs of dyed cloth or marble crafts and art the quality of which are all good, but visitors have to bargain to get a lower price.
Now Xizhou Town is the location of the government of an administrative region.The present name of the city may give you some clues about the pattern of the city. Some villages around Xizhou Town have been named North City, East City, and South City.There are four big families living in the Town: Yan, Dong, Yang and Zhao.
The houses of every family have their own features. Every residence decorates upturned eaves, colorful paintings, marble decorations, gardens and so on which reflect construction talent and art creation of Bai people. Typical Bai architectural designs are Sanfang Yizhaobi and Sihe Wutianjing.
Sanfang Yizhaobi and Sihe Wutianjing.
The layout of Sanfang Yizhaobi is courtyard rooms on three sides (Sanfang) and a screen wall (Yizhaobi) on the remaining side. A screen wall in Sanfang Yizhaobi has 2 functions.
On one hand, according to the tradition of Bai style architecture, the screen wall should face east to make use of the early morning sun and to reflect the light into the inner rooms. On the other hand, the screen wall, adorned with elaborate caligraphy and paintings, is considered as a talisman which the Bai people believe will bring good blessing.
The layout of Sihe Wutianjing is one big courtyard with four smaller wells at the four corners and a big well in the center of the courtyard.
Xizhou Town is composed of more than 88 compounds like those. Some have several yards and some have yards within yards. Yan's Compound is the most representative of Bai-style residences in Xizhou. It was designed by Mr. Yan Xuehou. It is open to public.
Outside the Xizhou Town there are two overgrowing elms. The habitants here call them Trees with Geomantic Omen. The two elms already have a very long history. It is said that one elm is "yin" while the other is "yang".
One grows new branches and leaves when the other shed leaves. This goes around year after year and the two elms get prosperous in turn. One produces fruits while the other never. There is also an old green tree in the village not very far to the northeast of the Town.
In the square stands a stone torii. It is the Civilization Torii which has been built recently. The former torii which stood here was called Success Torii. It had been built after several intellectuals in the town had achieved success in the Ming Dynasty. At that time, all the villagers who had achieved success in the national examinations were privileged to engrave their names on the torii.