Chengdu: Jinli Street

Jinli Street was al bekend ten tijde van de Qin-dynastie (221 v. Chr. – 206 v. Chr.) als centrum van de baldakijnindustrie en het was een van de drukste commerciële gebieden tijdens het Shu-koninkrijk (221-263). Vandaar dat het bekend staat als ‘First Street of the Shu Kingdom’. Om de welvaart van vroeger te reconstrueren werd de straat met bijdragen van de Wuhou-tempel gerestaureerd en in oktober 2004 voor het publiek geopend. Sindsdien komen bezoekers uit heel China en het buitenland hier samen om te ontspannen en de traditionele gebouwen te bewonderen.

Door de cultuur van de Three Kingdoms Periode te combineren met de volksgebruiken van Sichuan, zijn de gebouwen aan beide zijden, inclusief theehuizen, winkels en hotels, gemodelleerd naar de architecturale stijl van een traditionele oude stad in de westelijke provincie Sichuan uit de Qing (1644-1911) Dynastie.

Slenterend door de smalle straat, zul je merken dat je omringd bent door ouderwetse winkels die Shu-borduurwerk, lakproducten, handwerk, curiosa of kalligrafieën en schilderijen van beroemdheden verkopen. Al deze winkels hebben hun unieke stijl maar hebben ook één ding gemeen: hoe druk de plek ook is, de winkels zijn vredig en ontspannen. U kunt rustig souvenirs kopen en de meeste van de speciale lokale producten zijn hier te vinden.

Chengdu is a city brimming with a strong leisurely ambience with Jinli Street as the typical representative. The street is located to the east of the Wuhou Temple of Chengdu (the most famous Three Kingdoms period (220 – 280) relic museum in China).

It is recorded that as early as the Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC), Jinli Street was the most famous place for baldachin – a rich, ornate cloth. And it was one of the busiest commercial areas during the Shu Kingdom (221-263). Hence, it is known as ‘First Street of the Shu Kingdom’. In order to reclaim its prosperity of former days, it was restored with contributions from the Wuhou Temple and was opened to public in October of 2004. Since then, visitors from all over China and abroad gather here to relax, admire the traditional-style buildings, and taste some local snacks.

At one end of Jinli Street is an imposing archway with ‘Jinli Street’ carved on it. From there the lane, paved with green flagstones, winds through Chengdu for a length of 350 meters (382.8 yards). By combining the culture of the Three Kingdoms Period with the folk customs of Sichuan, the buildings on both sides including tea-houses, stores and hotels, are modeled on the architectural style of a traditional old town in western Sichuan Province from the Qing (1644-1911) Dynasty. The wooden steles and the brick-walls exhibit an ancient charm.

Strolling down the narrow street, you will find yourself surrounded by old-world stores selling Shu Embroidery, lacquer products, folk handicrafts, curios, or calligraphies and paintings of celebrities. All of these stores have their unique style but also have one thing in common: no matter how busy the place is, the stores are peaceful and relaxing. You can browse leisurely or purchase some souvenirs for your friends. Most of the special local products can be found here.

Outside the stores, the stalls are busier but equally attractive. You can find folk artisans putting on funny shows such as a Shadow Puppetry show or a hand puppet show. Some traditional arts such as Paper-cut and clay figurines made by the skilled craftsmen are sold here. They are so delicate and life-like that you won’t be able to resist buying some. From these artworks you will get a taste of the true life of the local people and find some reminders of China’s past in the modern city.

In the middle of Jinli Street, there is a wooden stage which looks like an ancient pavilion. It is used from time to time for performing classic Sichuan Operas. You can enjoy folk music along with the actor’s beautiful, quick costume and make-up changes. The actors’ perfect performances will wow you. Open-air movies are also shown in front of the stage. There are also some other performances in Jinli Street such as a traditional clothing show, sounding night watches, and carrying bridal sedan chair and bamboo chairs show. Another interesting performance is the local wedding ceremony show in which visitors may participate. Lovers can also have a unique and traditional wedding ceremony here.

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