Chongqing’s An­cient Towns

--String­ing To­gether Age-old Wa­ter and Moun­tain Path­ways

China Scenic - - Front Page - By Li Xiaobo Pho­to­graphs by Yu Ge Trans­la­tion by Kyle An­der­son (USA)

Chongqing is a city of numer­ous moun­tains. Since an­cient times it has been known as the “City of Moun­tains.” The Wu­jiang, Jial­ing and Yangtze rivers pass through its val­leys, braid­ing to­gether its slopes and wa­ter­ways into a sin­gu­lar, wo­ven land­scape. In the crevices of its land­forms, hu­man com­mu­ni­ties slowly emerged and flour­ished, co­a­lesc­ing into an ar­ray of unique an­cient towns, still vis­i­ble to this day. These set­tle­ments draw to­gether the his­tory and cul­ture of Chongqing like a string of fine, glis­ten­ing pearls.

Along the up­per reaches of the Yangtze River, the Daba, Wushan, Wul­ing and Dalou moun­tain peaks en­cir­cle the city of Chongqing, giv­ing force to its ti­tle as the “City of Moun­tains.”

Two mil­lion years ago dur­ing the early Pa­le­olithic Era, lived China’s ear­li­est peo­ple the Wushan Man, oc­cu­py­ing present-day Wushan County. Soon af­ter their ar­rival,

this scenic land­scape be­came a mag­net for hu­man civ­i­liza­tion, es­tab­lish­ing it­self as an an­cient cul­tural district.

What was it about Chongqing’s ge­og­ra­phy that at­tracted these hu­man set­tle­ments? What is the ori­gin of these an­cient towns? How did the city evolve into its present-day form? More than just cast­ing off a mod­ern neon glow, a nos­tal­gic look at these towns re­veals the city’s truest form.

I have spent the last ten years walk­ing the old paths and stair­ways of these towns, the de­tails of which I now share with you here, di­vided up into their cul­tural and nat­u­ral di­vi­sions as Salt, Shoal, Fron­tier, Mil­i­tary, Wharf and Re­lay towns.

Salt Towns, Chongqing’s Point of Ori­gin

In 1994, I fol­lowed the Sino-amer­i­can Three Gorges Salt En­ter­prise Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Team into the Zhongba His­toric Site in Chongqing’s Zhongx­ian County. This site pro­vided ev­i­dence of China’s ear­li­est salt in­dus­try.the cul­tural layer of the site was three me­ters deep and full of sharp-bot­tom pot­tery cups used to cook salts. Ex­perts spec­u­late the site was a pro­fes­sional work­shop for man­u­fac­tur­ing salt.

A se­ries of boat-shaped tanks used for stor­ing brine were un­earthed, as well as kiln pits for fir­ing pot­tery and the well-ar­ranged foun­da­tions of dwellings, giv­ing shape to the sil­hou­ette of a set­tle­ment of in­dus­try and res­i­dence.ac­cord­ing to his­to­ri­ans’

ex­pla­na­tions, the Zhongba ru­ins can be dated to some time be­tween the Shang and Zhou dy­nas­ties (1600–256 BC), when Zhongba had al­ready laid the foun­da­tions for hand­i­craft pro­duc­tion and com­mer­cial tax­a­tion, launch­ing its de­vel­op­ment as Chongqing’s orig­i­nal set­tle­ment.

Salt Town Ningchang An­cient Town Lo­cated be­side the Small Three Gorges in Wuxi County, Chongqing, Ningchang An­cient Town was one of the ear­li­est re­gions in China to pro­duce salt, with a 4,000-year his­tory of the salt in­dus­try.

It’s not un­til ar­chae­ol­o­gists study­ing Zhongx­ian County’s salt in­dus­try un­cov­ered the de­vel­op­ment of the Yangtze Three Gorges salt in­dus­try, open­ing up an en­tirely new chap­ter in Chi­nese his­tory, that I fi­nally re­al­ized how the evo­lu­tion of the an­cient towns of Chongqing along the river moved in step with the vi­cis­si­tudes of salt pro­duc­tion. His­to­rian Ren Naiqiang be­lieves that dur­ing the Spring and Au­tumn and War­ring States Pe­riod (770–221 BC), the states of Ba (2100–316 BC) and Chu (1400–223 BC), were con­stantly at war with each other over the salt springs run by the Ba.

Later on, an in­ves­tiga­tive team and my­self fol­lowed the Dan­ing River up­stream, pass­ing within the lim­its of Wuxi County. Cliffs tow­ered above the flow­ing wa­ters, re­veal­ing numer­ous cliff plank paths and hang­ing coffins. This soar­ing sec­tion of Wushan Moun­tain gorge in no way ap­peared to be the ideal lo­ca­tion for hu­man dwellings. So why would there be so many traces left of hu­man ac­tiv­ity there?

I im­me­di­ately re­al­ized the answer when we made it to the an­cient town of Ningchang. From the side of the moun­tain gushed a mas­sive salt spring.the air was filled with the

scent of brine.ningchang came into be­ing hand-in-hand with a mirac­u­lous gift of na­ture, turn­ing the gorge into se­ries of vil­lage dwellings. To one side of the river lay a pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing district. On the other side is res­i­den­tial zone. A rudi­men­tary bridge spanned theriver, with a salt pipe dou­bling as a hu­man trans­port—the most fas­ci­nat­ing multi-pur­pose rope bridge I’d ever laid eyes on.

Dur­ing prim­i­tive pe­ri­ods, be­fore salt wells could be dug, nat­u­ral salt springs like the one in the State of Ba, were true eco­nomic god-sends. Mod­ern ge­ol­ogy would de­scribe the phe­nom­e­non more tech­ni­cally as a process re­sult­ing from a tur­bu­lent cur­rent ex­pos­ing deep salt de­posits, then forc­ing them to the sur­face and ul­ti­mately cre­at­ing a salt spring via un­der­ground run­ning wa­ter.

Salt Town Yushan An­cient Town When the salt in­dus­try was thriv­ing, Yushan was crowded with mer­chants, as well as lines of in­dus­try-re­lated stores. A lo­cal is telling us the story of this shop in the town.

Up un­til the Qing Dy­nasty (1644–1912), the town of Ningchang had served as a source of salt prod­ucts to nine sur­round­ing coun­ties. Un­for­tu­nately, be­cause the set­tle­ment was tied to the fate of the salt in­dus­try, the once flour­ish­ing town faded away, its Salt Tax­a­tion Of­fice, Salt God Dragon Tem­ple and other ar­chi­tec­tural sites al­most en­tirely dis­ap­pear­ing. Pos­ter­ity now re­lies only on an­cient records to imag­ine the rare splen­dor of this once bustling set­tle­ment. As a rule, though, the town is now com­ing back to life through the re­vival of tourism.

Af­ter re­search­ing the Three Gorges area, I re­ceived a com­mit­tee as­sign­ment to go and in­ves­ti­gate Yushan Salt Town at the bank of Wu­jing River. The salt well in Yushan was the same as the one in Ningchang: a salt vein sub­merged just be­low the sur­face, this kind of nat­u­ral oc­cur­ring salt spring was re­ferred to as a Feishui (lit. fly­ing wa­ter) well. There are other des­ig­na­tions as well: mon­key, chicken call, and tur­tle-dove, so named be­cause those par­tic­u­lar an­i­mals were seen there lick­ing salts.ac­cord­ing to their shape and the char­ac­ter­is­tics of their walls, one also finds wells called Yel­low Mud Spring, Skin Bag, and Nanmu (a type of wood).

The his­tory of salt min­ing in China is truly time-hon­ored; arche­ol­o­gists have found ev­i­dence that an­cient set­tle­ments first set­tled around them dur­ing the Ne­olithic pe­riod.slowly over time, these mirac­u­lous salt wells de­vel­oped into scenic towns.

Shoal Towns, Slum­ber­ing on the Waves

The Yangtze, Jial­ing and Wu­jiang rivers form the three river wa­ter sys­tem of Chongqing. The city’s ro­bust wa­ter trans­porta­tion sys­tem was its foun­da­tion. What’s cu­ri­ous is how these rivers’ shoals ended up con­sti­tut­ing a sin­gu­lar part of the his­tory of Chongqing’s an­cient towns. Be­fore the wa­ter­ways were fully man­aged, a se­ries of sand bars se­verely ob­structed ship­ping. Trans­porters re­quired plan­ning to safely make their­cross­ings—no tim­ing mis­cal­cu­la­tions could be made.they needed to con­tact ahead of time boat track­ers. Nat­u­rally, a num­ber of boat­ing gangs set­tled near these ob­struc­tive shoals, with small dwellings pop­ping up around them. These even­tu­ally grew into proper shoal towns hid­den in the moun­tains.

Shoal Town A busy and flour­ish­ing wa­ter trans­porta­tion sys­tem is the bedrock of Chongqing’s

de­vel­op­ment, thus mak­ing shoal towns along the river­side one dis­tinc­tive fea­ture of Chongqing’s an­cient towns.

Shoal Town Gong­tan An­cient Town Orig­i­nat­ing from the Dalou Moun­tain in Guizhou, the Wu­jiang River runs south­west­wardly into Chongqing. It forms the beau­ti­ful hun­dred-mile long land­scape gallery along its two banks, while giv­ing birth to sev­eral danger­ous shoals. Gong­tan, an an­cient town con­structed on one of the shoals of Wu­jiang, be­came the largest mer­chan­dise dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter of the Sichuan, Chongqing and Guizhou re­gion.

Among these numer­ous set­tle­ments, in­clud­ing Gong­tan on the Wu­jiang River and Song­gai and Zhutuo on the Yangtze River stand as the par­a­digm.gong­tan is sit­u­ated at the cross­roads of present-day Peng­shui and Youyang coun­ties.in 1573, dur­ing the Ming Dy­nasty (1368–1644), a mas­sive cave-in on the Wu­jiang blocked the river, cre­at­ing a treach­er­ous shoal.this con­versely con­verted Gong­tan into Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou’s big­gest trans­porta­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter. Up un­til the Repub­lic of China pe­riod (1912–1949), hun­dreds of boats crowded its wa­ter­ways.all the res­i­dents of Gong­tan were in­volved in ei­ther busi­ness or ship­ping.af­ter Hankou in Hubei opened its wharf, the ex­cel­lent tung oils of the Wul­ing hills would un­dergo re­fin­ing and then be shipped out to Eng­land and Amer­ica.this turned far away Gong­tan into a cru­cial port of in­ter­na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion.

Shoal Town Longxi An­cient Town Lo­cated deep in the moun­tains of north­east Chongqing, at the lower reaches of the wind­ing Dan­ing River, Longxi An­cient Town in Wuxi County has the ter­rain of a minia­ture penin­sula. It is sur­rounded by moun­tains and en­cir­cled by the slow, calm wa­ter of the Dan­ing River, pre­sent­ing the beau­ti­ful scenery of a shoal town.

Shoal Town Longxi An­cient Town The streets of Longxi are paved with slates from the Dan­ing River, which have smoothed by passersby. Black tiles above the build­ings across street stretch along, and the whole town, giv­ing off an aura of seren­ity and peace. His­tor­i­cal sites, such as fortresses from the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties, the Palace of Em­peror Yu and Qing Dy­nasty court­yards still ex­ist.

The ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures of these shoal towns were very unique. Vil­lagers vied for pre­cious space along the steep slopes of the moun­tains to build dwellings.at first they would pile up rocks to form nar­row ter­races and then con­struct their hang­ing houses.to ex­pand the build­able ter­ri­tory, they built up­wards us­ing T-shaped void­struc­ture houses. This is the most hair- rais­ing river view home I’d ever seen.stair­cases wound their way up from be­low the hang­ing houses, snaking through the small spa­ces be­tween them, cre­at­ing an in­tri­cate and stun­ning maze.

Com­pared to the danger­ous shoals of the Wu­jiang River, the shoal set­tle­ments of the Yangtze are much more re­laxed.both Song­gai and Zhutuo towns formed a group­ing, which from a nat­u­ral, ge­o­graph­i­cal per­spec­tive, sat within a con­cave bank, a large bend eroded over time.the river formed a cir­cuit there, dark wa­ters churn­ing un­der a seem­ingly placid sur­face.

Shoal Town Xi­tuo An­cient Town Lo­cated on the western bor­der of Chongqing, Xi­tuo An­cient Town of Shizhu Tu­jia Au­ton­o­mous Coun­tyis a typ­i­cal salt trans­porta­tion cen­ter. It be­came an im­por­tant salt trans­porta­tion and sales port on the Yangtze River as early as the Tang Dy­nasty. It was also a start­ing point of a “thor­ough­fare of state salt” stretch­ing south­wardly to western Hu­nan.

Shoal Town Xi­tuo An­cient Town This is the main street of Xi­tuo Town. Streets in many other river­side towns are con­structed par­al­lel to the river but this is a T-shaped street built per­pen­dic­u­lar to the river, as­cend­ing along the moun­tain slope, and is thus hailed as the “cloud stairs street.”

The wa­ter­way of Song­gai had up­per, mid­dle and lower wharfs. Lo­cal trans­porta­tion mainly re­lies on ship­ping and land car­a­vans, with over a thou­sand pack horses and mules trans­port­ing goods from neigh­bor­ing coun­ties passed through the town every day.this gave rise to quite a flour­ish­ing sta­ble busi­ness, with up­wards of 20 dif­fer­ent care­tak­ers tend­ing to the an­i­mals.the sta­bles were still in use up un­til 1978, when the na­tion’s high­ways were fi­nally con­structed.to­day, only the Wa­ter God Tem­ple and a Car­a­van Mu­seum re­main to rep­re­sent the his­tory of this land-wa­ter trans­porta­tion link.

With im­prove­ments made to the wa­ter­ways, the danger­ous shoals slowly dis­ap­peared, but not be­fore the shoal towns had al­ready won an iconic place in the city’s mem­ory.

Shoal Town Song­gai An­cient Town Song­gai An­cient Town is sit­u­ated at the south end of Yongchuan District, Chongqing. Built on a shoal of the Yangtze River, Song­gai once thrived due to its con­ve­nient wa­ter trans­porta­tion. An­cient ar­chi­tec­tural com­plexes and streets are well pre­served here, show­cas­ing a pro­found and in­clu­sive lo­cal cul­ture. Fron­tier Towns, Gaz­ing upon the Rivulets

The moun­tain and river dis­tricts had no ad­min­is­tra­tive sub­di­vi­sions. Fron­tier Towns resided on the bor­der of a few dif­fer­ent mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, but ge­o­graph­i­cally their largest sec­tion all sit­ting within the Wul­ing Moun­tain area.

Wul­ing was the nat­u­ral and cul­tural con­ver­gence point for Chongqing, Hu­nan, Guizhou and Hubei. To­po­graph­i­cally, it is lo­cated on the edge of the Yun­nan-guizhou Plateau. There above the el­e­vated prairies and rolling spines of the moun­tains, the Wu­jiang, Yuan­jiang, Li and other rivers cut thou­sands of cir­cuitous gorges. There the Tu­jia, Miao and Han peo­ples flour­ished in the ravines.

Fron­tier Town In the Wulin Moun­tain­ous re­gion, where Chongqing, Hu­nan and Guizhou bor­der each other, the Hong’an and Qing­shui rivers sep­a­rate sev­eral fron­tier towns. To­day, a newly con­structed bridge links these towns to­gether.

Fron­tier Town Qushui An­cient Town Qushui An­cient Town is sit­u­ated in the Qian­jiang District of Chongqing. The Apeng River run­ning across the town, with the Wu­jiang and Youshui rivers, formed an im­por­tant wa­ter chan­nel for the Three Gorges area and the Jiang­han Plain. Above the river, there is a 300 m long cov­ered bridge, which is said to be the long­est cov­ered bridge in Asia.

Fron­tier Town Qushui An­cient Town Qushui An­cient Town has been a key com­mer­cial hub since the Yuan and Ming dy­nas­ties, be­cause it was an in­evitable point on the post, trade and salt road in south­east Sichuan. To­day, many old stores were re­vi­tal­ized by boom­ing tourism. Raw lac­quers of the Guang­shun­hao Dye House are even sold to Ja­pan.

In Wul­ing Moun­tain area, the Hong’an and Qing­shui rivers sep­a­rated a num­ber of fron­tier towns. A newly con­structed bridge linked them to­gether. In Chongqing the fron­tier town was called Hong’an Town, and in Hu­nan the one was known as Chadong Town.

All along the roads in Hong’an were fea­tures re­ferred to as fire- ex­tinc­tion tubes (fenghuo tongzi). These were con­structed to pre­vent con­fla­gra­tions.their struc­ture was dis­tinct, tow­er­ing a num­ber of me­ters above the roofs of com­mon res­i­dences, an es­pe­cially ef­fec­tive fire pre­ven­tion de­vice. If a house caught fire by ac­ci­dent, the flames would climb up­wards in­stead of spread­ing out­ward to neigh­bor­ing struc­tures. Run­ning be­tween these fire-ex­tinc­tion tubes were con­structed two-story wooden build­ings. These served as the store­fronts of the town.

Fac­ing this scene was the fron­tier town proper, its tiers of hang­ing houses ris­ing from the river, spi­ralled upon streets and lanes along the moun­tain slopes--an en­chant­ing

site for the vis­i­tor. A steel ca­ble linked the two shores, which also pro­pelled the move­ment of ferry boats. When pas­sen­gers had all climbed aboard, the old boat­man would calmly sit down in the cabin and use a log jammed into the metal ca­ble to slowly drag his way across. And then it was back and forth all day.

Fron­tier Town Long­tan An­cient Town The Long­tan An­cient Town was reestab­lished in 1735 (dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty). Since an­cient times, Long­tan River, the main river of the town, has been a key chan­nel link­ing Chongqing with Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhe­jiang re­gions. Mer­chants and pur­chasers from these ar­eas gath­ered in Long­tan and the whole town was full of stores.

Sev­eral well pre­served man­sions and court­yards of wealthy fam­i­lies re­main in the town.

Fron­tier Town Long­tan An­cient Town Ben­e­fit­ing from the con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion and good trans­porta­tion, many of­fi­cials and wealthy mer­chants resided in Long­tan An­cient Town. In the town, there are spir­i­tual shrines in places such as the Palace of Em­peror Xuanyuan and the Palace of Em­peror Yu. There are also many tra­di­tional Jiangsu and Zhe­jiang style con­struc­tions and the town has be­come a mu­seum of an­cient Chongqing ar­chi­tec­tural trea­sures.

Fron­tier Town Long­tan An­cient Town The Long­tan River flows through Long­tan An­cient Town and was once an im­por­tant

wa­ter­way. To­day, the three ex­ist­ing wharfs of the town are no longer used for traf­fic and trans­porta­tion - they have be­come places for peo­ple to wash clothes or fetch wa­ter.

Fron­tier Town Long­tan An­cient Town In Long­tan, flow­ing spring wa­ter from the moun­tain pro­vides a high-qual­ity wa­ter sup­ply for lo­cal res­i­dents.

As for me, look­ing for these fron­tier towns was a mov­ing process that felt a lot like a child search­ing for the life track of his mother. My grand­fa­ther was a fa­mous coun­try gen­tle­man of Xiushan County in Wul­ing Moun­tains. When my mother was still young, my grand­fa­ther sent her away to Long­tan Town in Youyang County for her stud­ies.every month, he’d send sedan bear­ers to go and pick her up. The trip was 7 hours one way.the whole thing seemed bizarre to me. Why would he want to send my mother so far away to study?

Long­tan An­cient Town was built on the shores of the Long­tan River, a wa­ter­way that con­ve­niently flowed di­rectly into the Yuan­jiang River and Dongt­ing Lake. The town was a key in­land com­mer­cial port. Mer­chants and of­fi­cials ar­riv­ing from all di­rec­tions no doubt prized hu­man­is­tic cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tion.in 1740, dur­ing the reign of the Qian­long Em­peror of the Qing Dy­nasty, Long­tan es­tab­lished the Longchi Academy. In 1907, dur­ing the reign of the Guangxu Em­peror of the Qing Dy­nasty, the academy was con­verted into a pub­lic school. In 1939, the mid­dle school dou­bled as a nor­mal univer­sity with close to 5000 stu­dents.in the re­mote Wul­ing area, this was def­i­nitely a grand un­der­tak­ing.

Long­tan still pre­serves its orig­i­nal com­mer­cial fea­tures. Its nine wharfs built dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty, are ar­rayed along the river in sin­gle file.near the mar­ket, mer­chants es­tab­lished home­town guild halls for the Hu­nan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Fu­jian

com­mu­ni­ties. The town was full of tem­ples of var­i­ous kinds sup­ported by every trade and guild. In times of to live re­ly­ing on na­ture, peo­ple could only ap­peal to their per­sonal gods re­sid­ing in their hearts for pro­tec­tion. Every res­i­dence of the town bore wit­ness to the town’s his­tory, but now only tourists come and go through empty door­ways leav­ing just the traces of their foot­prints.

Fron­tier Town Hong’an An­cient Town Lo­cated in the south­east of Xiushan Tu­jia & Miao Au­ton­o­mous County, Chongqing, Hong’an An­cient Town is a fron­tier town and Chadong Town of Hu­nan stands across the river.

Fron­tier Town Hong’an An­cient Town Wooden hang­ing cor­ri­dors stand in a line along the river­bank of Hong’an Town.

There are a num­ber of other fron­tier towns scat­tered through the Wul­ing Moun­tain area, but their names have al­most all slipped from mem­ory. These towns all em­body the prim­i­tive and pris­tine beauty of the re­gion: Xiushan Moun­tain’s Shidi An­cient Town, Youyang County’s Houxi An­cient Town, Peng­shui County’s Huangji­aba An­cient Town. Their hang­ing dwellings dis­play the ar­chi­tec­tural spirit of spir­i­tual moun­tains, but also re­call a feel­ing of ma­ture com­fort.

Gar­ri­son Towns, Rooks Be­tween the Rivers and Peaks

Dur­ing war­fare, the for­ti­fi­ca­tion and de­fense of towns be­came their pri­mary goal. In Chongqing, be­sides the famed Diaoyu Fortress in Hechuan District (In 1259, a 36-year fight to the death took place in the Hechuan Diaoyu Fortress be­tween the South­ern Song court and the Mon­gol forces, a con­flict of pre­em­i­nent sig­nif­i­cance in Chi­nese his­tory), a num­ber of other set­tle­ments un­der­went ex­ten­sive me­ta­mor­pho­sis into gar­ri­son towns. Lai­tan, some 42 kilo­me­ters north­east of Hechuan, was one of them.

Gar­ri­son Town To a great ex­tent, the per­son­al­ity of a city orig­i­nates from its ge­o­graph­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment. Lo­cated among huge moun­tains and flow­ing wa­ters, the an­cient towns of Chongqing never lack “testos­terone.” For in­stance, gar­ri­son towns es­tab­lished dur­ing war times still con­vey tales of chaos and flames.

Gar­ri­son Town Lai­tan An­cient Town Lo­cated in the north­east­ern Hechuan District, Chongqing, Laitai An­cient Town con­sists of three main streets. Well-ar­ranged an­cient build­ings flank each street, with wooden struc­tures and black tiles, in­still­ing a sense of peace and warmth.

Gar­ri­son Town Lai­tan An­cient Town Con­structed in 1862 (dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty), the bar­bican of Lai­tan An­cient Town is the only in­tact mil­i­tary de­fense fortress in Chongqing. A bar­bican is a mil­i­tary struc­ture that helps de­fend­ers lure, siege and an­ni­hi­late the en­emy. This is the in­te­rior of the bar­bican in Lai­tan.

Gar­ri­son Town Lai­tan An­cient Town The façade of the Lai­tan bar­bican.

Lai­tan was es­tab­lished in the Song Dy­nasty. Dur­ing the Qing it mor­phed into a de­fen­sive fortress against ban­ditry.as an out­post de­signed specif­i­cally to re­sist

in­va­sion, the town was con­structed atop Lingjiu Peak, which is more than 80 me­ters above the Qu­jiang River, a trib­u­tary of the Jial­ing.it was pro­tected on three sides--east, south and north--by steep cliffs. Only to its west, where a flat plain ex­tended out­ward, was the town ex­posed.

Three gates led into the city. Its south­east­ern Dong­shui (East Wa­ter) Gate and east­ern Xiaozhai (Small Stock­ade) Gate were con­structed to be easy to de­fend and dif­fi­cult to as­sail.the Western Dazhai (Large Stock­ade) Gate was placed above a flat plain. A bar­bican was added to fur­ther re­in­force and tighten city de­fenses.the pres­ence of the bar­bican out­side the fron­tier gar­ri­son town was ab­so­lutely unique. Its fan­ning shape was a de­par­ture from the stan­dard. Four wall en­trances in the shape of crosses were con­structed, se­cret­ing troops and weaponry in hold­ings be­hind the wall.there was a cov­ered cor­ri­dor atop the bar­bican, achiev­ing a sin­gu­larly ef­fec­tive de­fense, but also pre­sent­ing an awe-in­spir­ing im­age.

Gar­ri­son Town Yue­lai An­cient Town Yue­lai An­cient Town was of strate­gic mil­i­tary im­por­tance and suf­fered ap­palling ban­ditry over the course of its his­tory; thus, a large num­ber of im­pos­ing watch­tow­ers were set up by wealthy fam­i­lies of the town. This aban­doned watch­tower is now a live­stock shel­ter.

Gar­ri­son Town Yue­lai An­cient Town The man­sion next to this watch­tower is long gone and lo­cals have turned the whole area into farm­land. A peas­ant is pick­ing pota­toes in the field.

Gar­ri­son Town Yue­lai An­cient Town This is the in­te­rior of a watch­tower in Yue­lai. Lights shine through the square-shaped fir­ing holes.

While pass­ing through Lai­tan’s city de­fenses, squeez­ing down its nar­row al­leys, there is a strik­ing sense of be­ing within a Bud­dhist world.hui­long and Er­fou tem­ples are the town’s two most im­por­tant sites.hui­long rests at the heart of the set­tle­ment, with Erfo sit­ting high atop Lingju Peak, a sa­cred site to Sid­dartha in In­dia Bud­dhism.these two re­li­gious sites pro­tected the in­hab­i­tants and pre­served the city from be­ing de­stroyed in war­fare. When wars stopped, in­cense in the tem­ples would rise and the pop­u­la­tion paused to of­fer their de­vo­tion.

It’s im­pos­si­ble that such town could mimic a premier level gov­ern­men­tal struc­ture on the scale of a cap­i­tal city.how­ever, the an­cient towns of Chongqing did serve their func­tion as de­ter­rents to in­va­sion, in­vent­ing ever more in­ge­nious meth­ods to solve is­sues of de­fense and de­vel­op­ment. The Longx­ing An­cient Town in Chongqing’s Yubei District is a clas­sic ex­am­ple. Dur­ing the town’s long his­tory from the Song to the Ming, Longx­ing un­der­went a num­ber of up­heavals, throw­ing its in­hab­i­tants into a per­pet­ual state of un­ease.af­ter­ward, the town chose to lo­cate to a level lo­ca­tion tucked in be­tween high topo­graph­i­cal fea­tures, a city sur­rounded by nat­u­ral de­fenses. Five other large towns en­cir­cled it: Yulin, Tian­bao, Shichuan, Fusheng and Guanx­ing, mak­ing Longx­ing “a cen­tral-pe­riph­eral” set­tle­ment.

Longx­ing Town’s roads were laid out in a man­ner that con­sti­tuted an in­her­ent cir­cu­lar de­fense; a gaunt­let of in­spec­tion sta­tions pre­vented out­siders from break­ing through, doors at every node of the fenced open­ing and clos­ing at set times, form­ing a com­plex multi-lay­ered de­fense sys­tem. Dur­ing times of war, the high­est mil­i­tary gar­risons be­came the last re­sort and pro­tec­tion. The keep had an im­preg­nable moat within it, as

well as high stepped walls, and wa­ter and food re­serves, as well as an­ces­tral shrines.it was a com­pre­hen­sive set­tle­ment unto it­self. A siege would not dis­rupt its abil­ity to meet the needs of the en­closed pop­u­la­tion.

Gar­ri­son Town Diaoyu Fortress Sit­u­ated on the south bank of Jian­glin River, and the Hechuan District of Chongqing, the Diaoyu Fortress was a key mil­i­tary town in de­fend­ing the South­ern Song Dy­nasty against the Mon­go­lians. This is a city gate of the Diaoyu Fortress.

Gar­ri­son Town Diaoyu Fortress This is the city wall of the Diaoyu Fortress, out of which flows the Jian­glin River. With one side be­ing backed by the moun­tains and the other three sur­rounded by wa­ter, the nat­u­rally ad­van­ta­geous ter­rain of Diaoyu helped the South­ern Song with­stand the in­vin­ci­ble Mon­go­lian army.

The crafts­man­ship and bold­ness of gar­ri­son towns’ engi­neer­ing is a mar­velous thing. It in­spires in me the same kind of awe ex­pe­ri­enced at the Acrop­o­lis.though the anal­ogy is a bit un­even, Longx­ing’s gar­ri­son echoes the Greek site’s com­bi­na­tion of func­tional de­fense, gath­er­ing, and wor­ship. In spirit, the sites are kin. Wharf Towns, All-in­clu­sive Lo­ca­tions

Un­rolling a map of Chongqing re­veals im­me­di­ately the im­pos­ing pres­ence of moun­tain ranges, river­ways and lo­cal cul­tures con­sti­tute three main forces. In the north­east down from the Yangtze River and Wushan Moun­tain, the city links up to Ba and Chu cul­ture in the west.in the south­east the Wu­jiang River and Wul­ing Moun­tain form the arm of Tu­jia and Miao mi­nor­ity cul­tures. In the west through the Huay­ing Moun­tains and Jial­ing River, it con­nects Shu (Sichuan) and Cen­tral Plains civ­i­liza­tions.

Wharf Town Chongqing is a re­gion where peo­ple from all walks of life gather. Waves of peo­ple and a flow of goods flock to numer­ous wharfs on river­banks and over­land past houses in Chongqing.

Wharf Town Baisha An­cient Town

Lo­cated in south­west Jiangjin District, Chongqing, Baisha An­cient Town has a large pop­u­la­tion of 150,000. It also has a long his­tory as it has been a hu­man set­tle­ment since the Han Dy­nasty, and was­county seat for sev­eral dy­nas­ties. With an ad­van­ta­geous lo­ca­tion be­side the Yangtze River and am­ple work­force, it is not hard to imag­ine the pros­per­ous times of Baisha.

Wharf Town Baisha An­cient Town Mod­ern rail­ways and high­ways have di­vided much of the vol­ume of tra­di­tional ship­ping. Without stops by large freighters, peo­ple in this time-hon­ored wharf town are still ac­cus­tomed to pur­chase com­modi­ties and go to fairs. On fair day, many peo­ple from neigh­bor­ing ar­eas come to Baisha by ferry.

It was Chongqing’s in­tri­cate wa­ter and land traf­fic sys­tem that even­tu­ally made it the con­ver­gence of mul­ti­ple cul­tures. The city has a num­ber of river wharfs, but it also needs to be re­mem­bered that it con­tained many over­land courier sta­tions as well. These wa­ter and land routes re­ceived a near con­stant flow of peo­ples and goods. Anjü, Ciqikou, Tanghe, Shima and other an­cient towns were lo­cated along the main thor­ough­fares of Sichuan, Chongqing and Guizhou.the sheer num­bers of horses and mer­chants tran­sit­ing through the area caused these sites to form into out­posts.

Anjü An­cient Town in the Tongliang District of Chongqing was a trans­porta­tion hub from an­cient times.the Qiongjiang River was a branch trib­u­tary of the Fu­jiang within its bor­ders.trav­el­ing north­wards up the cur­rent led one to north­ern Sichuan, fol­low­ing the cur­rent down­stream would lead one to the the Jial­ing River, and fi­nally on to the Yangtze. This route was once teem­ing with skiffs. Mer­chants swarmed here like ants. Sol­diers also used the Fu­jiang River as a site for their for­ti­fi­ca­tions and en­camp­ments.

Wharf Town Shima An­cient Town Shima An­cient Town is the first port as the Yangtze River en­ters Chongqing, thriv­ing due to wa­ter trans­porta­tion. Be­sides the ship­ping busi­ness on its wharfs, Shima is also a ma­jor lo­cal pro­ducer of grain and live­stock, hailed as the “barn of Jiangjin.” (Jiangjin is a district of Chongqing.)

Wharf Town Shima An­cient Town With a his­tory of five hun­dred years, Shima has re­tained most of its his­tor­i­cal con­struc­tions. Among those build­ings, the Qingyuan Palace is the most rep­re­sen­ta­tive and best pre­served, bear­ing dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics of clas­sic Ming and Qing dy­nasty ar­chi­tec­ture.

Be­cause Chongqing and Hubei were ge­o­graph­i­cal neigh­bors, dur­ing the late Ming and early Qing pe­ri­ods, floods of refugees from Guangxi, Jiangxi, and Fu­jian burst into Sichuan. The an­cient towns be­came the first stop for a num­ber of these im­mi­grants. These tor­rents of peo­ple de­posited mem­o­ries of their home­land into the so­cial guilds of the towns,keep­ing nos­tal­gia and provin­cial sen­ti­ments alive. They also used them to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of fel­low re­gional busi­ness­men. Anjü, Shuangjiang, Wan­ling and a num­ber of other an­cient towns all erected large-scale guild halls. The guilds in Anjü were quite dis­tin­guished: the Hubei and Guangxi guilds were lo­cated on the south­ern edge of the town shar­ing its east­ern wall with the Matzu Tem­ple and its western edge with the Dizhu Palace.over the years, these ex­clu­sive com­mu­ni­ties melded into a hy­brid pop­u­la­tion with new shared sen­ti­ments.

Provin­cial guild halls were the bedrock of main­tain­ing one’s home­town iden­tity.the an­ces­tral hall served to graft one­self into their an­ces­tral tree. The an­ces­tral halls in these an­cient towns were al­ways the spir­i­tual heart of the town.

In Tong­nan District, Shuangjiang Town drew its name from the two rivers, the Fuxi and Houxi, that wound them­selves around it like a jade belt. The town was first

known as the Yangji­achang (Yang Fam­ily Ground). The Yang clan had orig­i­nally mi­grated to the area in 1699 dur­ing the 38th year reign of the Kangxi Em­peror of Qing Dy­nasty. Their il­lus­tri­ous rise be­gan small as a pur­chase to re­claim fields of sev­eral dozen acres. Fol­low­ing cen­turies of great change, the Yang fam­ily court­yard is still as vast as it once was.

Wharf Town Tanghe An­cient Town With an area of 2.8 hectares, the old block of Tanghe An­cient Town was con­structed up­ward along the moun­tain. Dif­fer­ent styles of an­cient ar­chi­tec­ture since the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties line up along the slope, cov­er­ing more than 15,000 square me­ters.

These are tra­di­tional Chongqing style, Huizhou style and even China-western style con­struc­tions, show­cas­ing the di­verse and all-em­brac­ing cul­tural root of Tanghe

Wharf Town Tanghe An­cient Town This is the façade of the Qingyuan Tem­ple, an im­pos­ing struc­ture stand­ing at the high­est point of the en­tire Tanghe Town. Con­structed in 1887 (dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty), it was called Qingyuan Palace be­fore turn­ing into the tem­ple we see to­day.

The an­cient towns are no rus­tic plots sealed off from the world. One small sec­tion of their land har­bors a heroic spirit, such as the Zhong­shan Town in Chongqing’s Jiangjin District.along the north-south axes, two rows of old build­ings line up on the banks of the river.the hang­ing houses and the col­umn-and-tie style build­ings across the street set each other off per­fectly. Their ar­chi­tec­ture is in­laid into the land­scape like dec­o­rated tile, to be ad­mired from afar or even en­joyed on foot. The most ex­quis­ite fea­ture of the build­ings is their use of the dis­tinc­tive sad­dle-ve­randa, re­ferred to by lo­cals as “street-cross­ing halls.”

Zouma An­cient Town is lo­cated in the Ji­u­longpo District of Chongqing, at the bor­der of Bis­han and Jiangjin dis­tricts.it was once an im­por­tant trad­ing post of both Chengdu and Chongqing. Its most iconic fea­tures are not its streets, but its legendary tales of the wild. In the past, the loose chatter of trav­el­ling mer­chants mixed with the cul­ture of the lo­cals pro­duc­ing the folk art of Zouma. Tem­ples and en­ter­tain­ment houses line up along the 400 m long cen­tral street of Zouma Town, in­clud­ing the Guanwu Tem­ple, Opera Stage, Tem­ple of King of Yu. It is said there were more than a dozen of the­aters on the street dur­ing the peak of the town.

Wharf Town Ciqikou An­cient Town

Lo­cated on the bank of the Jian­glin River in the Shap­ingpa District, Chongqing, Ciqikou An­cient Town be­gan to take shape dur­ing the Song Dy­nasty. Dur­ing the War of Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion, Ciqikou be­came the dis­tribut­ing cen­ter of pro­duce for the mid­dle and up­per reaches of the Jial­ing River, when Chongqing be­came the war-time cap­i­tal of China. To­day, the town is still an im­por­tant wa­ter and land port of Chongqing. Re­lay Towns, Both Good and Evil Realms of Fan­tasy

The na­ture of Chongqing an­cient towns’ dis­po­si­tion, is in­fin­itely more com­pli­cated than we imag­ine an­cient towns to be. Many of these towns pos­sess mul­ti­ply fea­tures at the same time. For ex­am­ple, Anjü An­cient Town in the Tongliang District of Chongqing, was both a wharf and a re­lay town.the town draws its preva­lent wa­ter cul­ture from its re­liance on the Fu­jiang River. On the other hand, be­cause of its lo­ca­tion on the main south­ern thor­ough­fare of Sichuan and Chongqing, it be­came a re­lay town, a sta­tion for mil­i­tary en­camp­ments and a busy mar­ket for hun­dreds of mer­chants.

Be­fore reach­ing Anjü, I had heard that about the town’s sup­posed Wham­poa Mil­i­tary Academy. I had my sus­pi­cions. I thought it was just an­other ploy by a lo­cal gov­ern­ment to fab­ri­cate a his­tor­i­cal anec­dote in or­der to drum up more tourism. But upon en­ter­ing the town, I in­deed saw the in­sti­tute.the front gate was painted with white stripes in a Euro­pean fash­ion, cre­at­ing a marked con­trast with the pseudo-clas­si­cal ar­chi­tec­ture flank­ing it. A Chi­nese-style me­mo­rial arch was col­ored in a rarely seen blueish-white color, matched to the of­fi­cial Kuom­intang of China (KMT) flag.the orig­i­nal site of the academy had al­ready basically been dis­man­tled, the mil­i­tary equip­ment re­moved for dis­play.

Re­lay Town The char­ac­ter­is­tics of Chongqing’s an­cient towns are more com­plex than the cat­e­gories we cur­rently have. An an­cient town usu­ally pos­sessed mul­ti­ple fea­tures. For ex­am­ple, Anjü An­cient Town in Tongliang District, Chongqing, is both a wharf town and a re­lay town.

Re­lay Town Feng­sheng An­cient Town Lo­cated at the junc­tion of Ba’nan, Fulin and Nanchuan dis­tricts of Chongqing, in Feng­sheng An­cient Town is boun­ti­ful, and trade of goods, in­clud­ing rice, gin­ger and tea, made the town pros­per­ous.

Re­lay Town Feng­sheng An­cient Town

This is the cross­road at Feng­sheng, formed by east-west and north-south streets. It was the most pros­per­ous bustling busi­ness street in the town, teem­ing with overnight stores and inns.

In 1938, the KMT has­tened a re­treat in­land from Nan­jing, com­manded to flee to the western re­gion of China. Train­ing of sol­diers con­tin­ued as the KMT beat a bath west­ward to the Tongliang District of Chongqing where Anjü was lo­cated.anjü’s Mil­i­tary Of­fi­cer Academy would go on to train the 14th class of Wham­poa grad­u­ates. Ap­prox­i­mately 6500 of them re­turned to the front lines to fight the Ja­panese dur­ing the War of Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion. Dur­ing these three years till the Wham­poa then moved to Chengdu in 1942, thou­sands of stu­dents camped in­side the Chuanzhu Tem­ple, Lianxi An­ces­tral Hall and Con­fu­cian Tem­ple in the town.the sol­diers quar­tered in these re­li­gious sites held fast to their faith in ded­i­cat­ing them­selves to their fa­ther­land.

The sig­nif­i­cance of the academy’s move here ex­tended be­yond mere mil­i­tary pur­poses. It had much also to do with the to­pog­ra­phy and his­tory of Anjü.the an­cient town used a moun­tain as its city wall, look­ing out over Chongqing, with the Fu­jiang, the Qiongjiang and Wumu rivers sur­rounded on its three sides.the town was like­wise stocked with gen­er­als, his­tor­i­cally hav­ing pro­duced a pha­lanx of tal­ented fig­ures

Banan District’s Feng­sheng An­cient Town was a ma­jor re­lay post opens up to­ward Chongqing’s south­east­ern Ful­ing and Nanchuan dis­tricts and Guizhou. Since the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties, Guang­dong, Jiangxi, Hubei, east­ern Sichuan and other peo­ples widely gath­ered there. Peo­ple re­fer to Banan as the first dry wharf there.

Re­lay Town Anjü An­cient Town As a hu­man set­tle­ment, Anju has a his­tory of more than 4,000 years. Dur­ing the South­ern Dy­nasty (420–589 AD), Anjü Town was es­tab­lished and be­come a key town in north Chongqing.

Re­lay Town Anjü An­cient Town This is the former school site of the 14th term of the Repub­lic of China (R.O.C.) Mil­i­tary Academy. In 1938, af­ter the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion be­gan, the gov­ern­ment of Repub­li­can China be­gan a large scale re­treat from Nan­jing to western China. Dur­ing the with­drawal, the R.O.C. Mil­i­tary Academy was tem­po­rar­ily re­lo­cated in Anju.

When a trad­ing cen­ter is es­tab­lished, fac­tions and gangs soon ap­pear amongst the con­trol­ling in­dus­tries. The mem­bers of a brother­hood, named as paoge and with a gang hue were a fre­quent re­al­ity here. These se­cret so­ci­eties were both good and bad, en­tan­gling them­selves in the af­fairs of mer­chant groups and the com­mon peo­ple, but also re­solv­ing sit­u­a­tions among folks.

At the very cen­ter of Feng­sheng’s cross­roads were the gang­ster so­cial halls with the names of “hu­mane” (仁, rén), “virtue” (德, dé), and “eti­quette” (礼, lǐ). When the

se­cret so­ci­eties would be ne­go­ti­at­ing lo­cal dis­putes, it was cus­tom to flaunt the “hu­mane” char­ac­ter when be­ing le­nient, “virtue” when con­vinc­ing, and “rit­ual” when of­fer­ing re­spect to an­other. As a mat­ter of fact, though, sit­u­a­tions would of­ten turn con­fused and vi­o­lent, blood run­ning in the streets. The Ren­shou Tea­house was the gang­sters’ of­fi­cial hall of busi­ness. If some­one had a prob­lem they could go there to “talk and chat.” It be­came rather like the lo­cal court­house.

Cul­ture Town Lo­cated in Beibei District, Chongqing, Jin­gang­bei An­cient Town is sit­u­ated be­tween the Jinyun Moun­tain and the Jial­ing River. Con­structed dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty, the town has a his­tory of more than 300 years. It was a gath­er­ing place for celebri­ties from var­i­ous cul­tural cir­cles.

As a re­sult, the life of the squires in other an­cient towns was no­tice­ably ab­sent in Feng­sheng. Feng­sheng’s squires were those ca­pa­ble of both lit­er­ary and mar­tial feats. The owner of the Shi­quan­tang store, Liu Zhushan, was the town’s rich­est res­i­dent at the be­gin­ning of the Repub­li­can pe­riod. His main res­i­dence was within a nat­u­ral gar­den sur­rounded by pavil­ions. To con­trast the ex­quis­ite wood crafts­man­ship of his home, a six-tiered rock tower was con­structed. The build­ing had a stone stair­case and slit- win­dows for watch­ing and shooting. It en­joyed one of the town’s most com­mand­ing height points.

Among the myr­iad ver­sions of an­cient towns in China, and those most scenic and mys­te­ri­ous, Chongqing en­joys a su­perla­tive rep­u­ta­tion. The Ba peo­ples first founded their set­tle­ments on salt, then through scat­tered wharfs and re­lay posts and im­mi­gra­tion fash­ioned them into mer­chant towns, only to fi­nally move them into the realm of fan­tasy, where pride and pa­tri­o­tism flour­ished.

Zhong­shan An­cient Town is lo­cated on the banks of the Zhuxi River in the south­ern Jiangjin District of Chongqing, in the bor­der re­gion of Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou. As the main trans­porta­tion re­lies on ship­ping, Zhong­shan is one of many wharf towns t

Salt Town The ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­ery of Zhongx­ian County’s an­cient salt in­dus­try has un­veiled much about the his­tory of the salt in­dus­try in the Three Gorges, man­i­fest­ing that the his­tory of cities and towns along the banks of the Yangtze River is equiv

Salt Town Ningchang An­cient Town Dan­ing River runs through the Ningchang River, cut­ting the town into two parts, the res­i­den­tial area and the salt in­dus­trial zone. This is an aban­doned salt plant in Ningchang. Since the rise of the in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion of sa

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