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Lijiang Dayan Town

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.

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.

In the early years of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), there were about 1,000 families in Lijiang, which constantly grew in size during the Ming-Qing period. The heart of the Dayan Town is called "Square Street" - a six "mu" (15 "mu" in one nectare) business center which serves as a hub of communication to Sichuan Tibet and other parts of Yunnan.

Since the Qing period, the town, itself a major producer of handicraft articles, has been the distribution center for goods produced in northwest Yunnan, hence the word "gong ben" in the Naxi language which means "a place with many warehouses." Tibetans send their woolen textiles and medicinal herbs here for shipment to other parts of China, and tea and articles for daily use from Xishuang Banna, Fengqing and Xiaguan of Yunnan are sold to Tibetan areas via the town.

During the Second World War, the Flying Tigers - a group of American pilots voluntarily helping China in fighting the Japanese Aggression - built the Basha Airport in the Lijiang area to implement what is known to historians as the "Hump Operation." And along with the airport came banks and companies, and consequently, the area became prosperous.
By taking advantage of its geographic location, the town has served as a center of economic and cultural exchanges between people of the Tibetan, Han, Bai and Naxi ethnic groups and, moreover, as a shining example of their solidarity.

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