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Lijiang, Naxi Autonomous District

wooden bridge Earthen and wooden housing structures are most popular. A typical courtyard here resembles what is found in Beijing-- walled and in neat squares, with the principle rooms facing south. Unlike the Beijing courtyard which has rooms facing east and west, spacious corridors line both sides of the Nazi courtyard which also has an imposing arch over the gateway.

Bridges are seen everywhere, linking streets and lanes. Many were built during the Ming and Qing period from the 14th to the early 20th centuries which have survived the wars and earthquakes. For all this, the town is known as the "Venice of China" or the "Suzhou on the plateau."

The Children of the land of flowers, the Naxis are fond of flowers and almost every courtyard is a garden. Moreover, every Naxi courtyard is built at the side of a ditch with willow trees growing on both sides. Unwritten but rigorous rules, called "sanyanjing" or "three-hole wells," are followed with regard to use of water. Water in the uppermost "hole" or upper-most section of the ditch is meant exclusively for drinking; the next lower section is where people wash rice and vegetables for cooking; and washing of clothes is allowed only in the lower-most section of the ditch.
three-hole wells
a Naxi woman The history of the town dates back to the South Song period (1127-1279). In 1253, Kublai, in his expedition to conquer the state of dali, came to what is now Lijiang after his troops crossed the Jinsha river by using inflated bags of animal hide. That explains why many names of places in the Naxi languages are transliterations of "army camps," "drilling grounds," etc. for the Mongolian language.

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