Lizhuang Town is a national historical and cultural town in China. About 19 kilometers (about 11.81 miles) from the suburban area of Yibin City, it is situated on Lizhuang dam on the southern bank of Yangtze River. In the past, it used to be a fishing village. In the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.), there was a post house there. It is on the bank of Yangtze River, so it was an important trade center in the Ming (1368 A.D. – 1644 A.D.) and Qing dynasties (1644 A.D. – 1911 A.D.). Because it is located on the starting point of Yangtze River, it is also known as “the first town on the 10-thousand-li Yangtze River”
Lizhuang Town is only a remote ancient village with a population of 12 thousand. However, it boasts a lot of historical sites, cultural relics and other human landscape. Some buildings dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties are well preserved, including some religious temples, ancestral temples, quadrangle courtyards and a huge number of ancient streets. In Lizhuang Town, tourists can see some wooden pavilions which are neatly arranged, some narrow lanes with stone floors, tall wooden doorsills, heavy wooden gates and many exquisitely designed and perfectly conserved ancient houses. All of those buildings have kept the pattern and style of the ancient towns in the Ming and Qing dynasties. On both sides of the stone-paved streets, there stand a lot of buildings built in the Qing Dynasty, with tall frontispiece, doors and windows with carved patterns, with antique flavors. Between the courtyards, there are some deep and quiet lanes. On the dock near the river, there are some stone steps leading up to the street, full of the flavor of the ethnic groups in the southern Sichuan Province. The wooden carvings and stone carvings are exquisite and lifelike, boasting great artistic value. There is an old saying in China that “Zhouzhuang in the east is like Lizhuang in the west”.
History and Culture
Lizhuang not only boasts the huge numbers of historical sites, but is also a cultural center in the rear area during (China's) War of Resistance against Japan (1937-1945). In 1940, in order to escape from the war and disorder, a huge group of famous scholars and experts gathered in Lizhuang, making Lizhuang one of the four cultural centers in the war of resistance, together with Chongqing, Chengdu and Kunming. At that time, as long as the four Chinese characters “Zhong Guo Li Zhuang” (meaning Lizhuang, China) are written in mails, the mail can be sent exactly from every corner of the world.
Lizhuang Town enjoys a subtropical climate. The landform changes from the Yunnan-Kweichow Plateau in the southwest to the Sichuan Basin in the northeast, and thus the annual average temperature also changes due to the change of the landform. There is frequent precipitation in summer and there are natural disasters like torrential rains and hailstones occasionally. The best time to visit Lizhuang Town is at the end of spring, the beginning and the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. That is to say, it is in May, June, August and September.
Special and Local Products
In Lizhuang Town, the delicious food which tourists should never miss is the “Lizhuang Bai Rou” (Bai Rou means fat meat). Lizhuang Bai Rou is cut into extremely thin pieces, with very good quality. The fat meat looks crystal, and tastes delicious instead of greasy. It is a famous cuisine in Yibin City. There are also other typical local food, such as Ran Noodle (meaning burning noodle) and stewed chicken noodles. The Ran Noodle is made of high-quality local noodles, soybean sprout of Yibin, refined sesame seed oil, sesame, peanuts, walnut seed, hot pepper, pepper, monosodium glutamate and chive. So the Ran Noodle smells quite delicious. Due to much oil in its material, the noodle is easy to get burning, which is the origin of its name. In addition, the “Lizhuang wine” is also worth tasting.
Xizi Lane (lane of matting)
Apart from the luxurious buildings in the old street of Lizhuang Town, there are some simple dwellings. The most perfectly conserved is Xizi Lane (meaning the lane of matting). Xizi Lane is built in the early Qing Dynasty, measuring more than 60 meters long and 2.5 meters wide. Along this lane, you can see wooden houses with two stories. The parts on the second floor are all wooden “Diaojiao Lou”, with eaves on the top. The eaves cover the narrow street, so the distance between the eaves on either side is only 40 com. Standing in the street and looking upward, tourists can only see a narrow part of sky. That is why Xizi Lane is also known as “a tread of sky”. The grey tiles block the sun and rainfalls outside, and at the same time block the hustle and bustle outside. In Xizi Lane, people live easy lives. Every movement of people is slow and easy. In the past, Xizi Lane is the place where matting is made and sold, so Xizi Lane (meaning the lane of matting) got its name.
Xuanluo Hall (meaning the hall of spiral)
There is a huge stone hummock, which is 2.5 kilometers (about 1.55 miles) south of Lizhuang ancient town. The stone hummock looks like a snail, so it is called Shiniu Mountain (meaning the mountain like a stone snail). Shiniu Mountain lies across three rice fields. Under the belly of the stone snail, there is a deep lake named Long Lake (meaning the lake of dragon). In August, 1596 (the 24th year during the reign of Emperor Shenzong in the Ming Dynasty), a famous palace was built on Shiniu Mountain. Because the god of Wenchang (also known as the star of wisdom in folk stories) was worshipped in this palace, the palace was named Wenchang Hall. The main hall of this palace is a wooden pavilion, the flat surface of which is a regular octagon. It is 8 meters wide, 8 meters deep and 12.5 meters tall, with exquisite structure. The architect made full use of the principle of mechanics, creating a magical spiral-shaped hall. That is why Xuanluo Hall (meaning the hall of spiral) got its name. In spite of having suffered wind, rain and earthquake for 400 years, Xuanluo Hall still stand solidly today.
Baihe Window (the window of a hundred red-crowned cranes)
In the ancestral temple of the Zhang Family, there are 50 windows made of a monolithic first-class nanmu. On every window, there caved two red-crowned cranes in different shapes. There are altogether 100 red-crowned cranes. That is the famous “window of a hundred red-crowned crane and auspicious clouds”. There are only 2 windows conserved today. Every window is 2 meters long and 0.6 meters wide. Around the lifelike red-crowned cranes, there are a lot of beautiful auspicious clouds, creating the picture of “red-crowned crane with auspicious clouds”.
Yuwang Palace (the palace of Dayu)
Yuwang Palace is named Huiguang Temple now, which was built in the 11th year during the reign of Emperor Daoguang of the Qing Dynasty (1831 A.D.). Facing the north, it consists of two quadrangles, one primary and the other secondary. The main courtyard includes the gate to the temple, the theatrical stage, the main hall, the back hall, the Kuixing (or the star of wisdom in folk stories) Pavilion, some wing rooms and so on. The gate and the theatrical stage are both in double-eave roof Xieshan top style. Under the eave, there decorated an elegant Dougong (a system of brackets inserted between the top of a column and a cross beam). On the gate, there is a horizontal inscribed board and two stone antithetical couplets, on which inscribed the praise of the flood control of Dayu. These words are written by Zhang Songjing from Lizhuang Town, who was a member of the Imperial Academy in the Qing Dynasty. The theatrical stage in the temple is one of the best preserved theatrical stages in Sichuan Province. On the stylobate of the stage, there carved some relief sculptures telling the story of ancient dramas. Yuwang Palace is the largest building conserved in the Qing Dynasty. The nine-dragon stone tablet is famous at home and abroad.