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Beautiful Dali-Home of the Bai People

Dali city, in the western part of China’s multi-national Yunnan Province, is more than a thousand years old. Home of the Bai nationality people, it is also associated with the renowned Dali Marble, lovely mountains and lake, and the beautiful legends and music set in this charming place.

Dali, the administrative seat of the Dali Bai Nationality Autonomous County, is located in the shadows of the Cangshan Mountain s and overlooking Erhai Lake, a truly pleasant spot. About seven kilometers from Dali lie the ruin s of the eighth century city of Taihe. In the middle of that century, Pilouge, a Bai tribal head, united the six tribes of the Erhai region and established the Nanzbao regime with Taihe as capital. Nanzhao reigned in what is now Yunnan province and also in Dart of Sichuan and Guizhou provinces. Taihe was then the political and cultural center of the area. Later, when Pilouge’s son ascended the throne, a new city was built at Dali and Taihe gradually fell into disuse. Only the stone pillars and trace of the city walls and buildings remain today. In A. D. 766, the new king erected a stele in front of the Taihe city gate to signify his desire for friendship and unity with tile powerful Tang dynasty regime, which then held sway over most of China. This is the “Nanzhao Stele”, known to all students of Chinese history. The inscriptions carved on the tablet are important data for the study of Yunnan during that period. The Dali region has been historically one of China’s ancient cultural copters with its own unique creations in agriculture, handicrafts, architecture, fine arts and music. Its close political economic and cultural ties with the Southeast Asian countries has markedly affected its development. The Cangshan Mountains to the west of the city, at roughly four thousand meters above sea level has slopes covered with green trees and tea shrubs. The area now produces a hundred thousand kilograms of processed tea annually, and is the home of the famous Yunnan White Tea.

The mountains are characterized by fascinating brooks, Dali marble, cliffside springs, remains of ancient glaciers and mists. material, Dali marble is peerless for hardness, coloration and interesting patterns. It has been quarried in the area for more than 1300 years. Springs bubble from rocky crevices in sheer cliffs like white veils in the wind. Visitors to Dali in August-September will be treated to the view of imaginative cloud patterns floating from behind the four thousand-meter Yuju Peak in the Cangshan Mountains. These cloud pattens have evoked legends such as the eric woven band. The love story, which has been handed down for generations among the Bai people, goes like this. More than a thousand years ago in the days of Nanzhao, the beautiful daughter of the King of Nanzhao became fed up with palace life and fell in love with a poor young hunter. The couple cleped and hid on Yuiu Peak. The King was enraged and had the young man arrested, killed and thrown into Erhai Lake, where he turned into a snail. The princess in turn died of grief and anger and became a white cloud. Since then, between August and September each year this cloud appears over Yuju Peak, waves leap high, and the lake is calm only when the snail appears.

The placid Erhai Lake lies at the eastern foot of the Cangshan Mountains. Forty kilometers long and seven to eight kilometers wide, it teems with fish. Spear Island in the shape of a spear- area, the island is inhabited by some eighth hundred people. From the many ancient stone and bronze knives and stone axes excavated on the island, archaeologists believe that the place ws populated by the ancestors of the Bai people several thousand years ago.

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