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Yunnan folk house (4) Xizhou in Dali: Bai architectural style of 4-merchant families

Updated:2018-07-06 17:10:54   Yunnan Gateway

In the Sifang (“square”) Road, the center of Xizhou in west Yunnan’s Dali City stands a stone tablet named “Ti’ming” (literally “inscribing one’s name”). The names of four merchant families were engraved on the tablet: Yan’s, Yang’s, Dong’s and Yin’s families. The exquisiteness of the tablet indicates how wealthy the four families were in the past.

The house of Yan’s family is located in the south of Sifang Road and covers an area of 2,500 square meters. It consists of six buildings and two courtyards. The house is a typical Bai architecture “Sandishui” (literally “three water drops”). “Dishui” (literally “water drops”), also commonly known as “Dizi”, is an ancient architectural term. Such kind of architecture is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also practical because it effectively decreases the intensity of rainfall on buildings. As a high-standard Bai building, the gate of Yan’s house is covered with eaves and carved with colorful paintings and engravings. The Yan’s house also incorporates some features of western architecture—the triangle roof eaves were carved with some European-style lines.

Yan’s house has already been listed as a cultural relic protection site. Although part of the house underwent reconstruction, one can still learn about the simplicity and quintessence of Bai culture through this historical building.

Another famed indigenous merchant family is the Yang’s family. Yang’s house is a national key cultural relic protection site built by Yang Pinxiang in 1947. It is also a traditional Bai dwelling—“three buildings with a screen wall facing the house gate”. Each building is connected by a corridor and there are two courtyards. The external wall, inner wall and screen wall are decorated with colorful paintings. The house is now a cultural exchange club as well as a boutique hotel “Xilinyuan” founded by an American Lin Deng. 

By Yang Xiujie (Daguan Weekly)