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Fengqing Culture

1)Fengqing located in the southwest of Yunnan as  an important part of Langcang River culture ,with the unique character of multi-nations culture mix together. The people who living here the earliest are called Pu, and they are the ancestry of today’s Blang, and Wa nationality. Then Dai , Yi, Bai, Hui, Miao, Lisu, Lahu and so on, now there are 23 minorities live here. Each group disperse as well as mix to live, forming the culture mutual help to make up what the other lacks, mutual communion. Leading the Central Plains Culture ,Nanzhao culture, Langcang  river culture of Fengqing and all kinds of nations culture to add charm and radiance each other. It also showed the widely tolerance on culture of Fengqing. Fengqing enjoy  the unique location advantage on culture because of the combine old prehistoric civilization with modern civilization .


2)Fengqing offers rich tea cultural traditions ,and home to tea ,enjoy the famous reputation of “Town of Dianhong  tea”. According to the general investigation, all county covers an area of old teaabout 5, 6 thousand hectare. There is an old tea tree in Xiang Zhuqin(香竹箐)of Fenging,which is 10.6 m high, about 5.82m when round. It is speculated that this tea tree has been over 3000years old and got a honorific title –the mother of world Tea .In addition to ,Fngqing has the unique tea custom-Baidiu Tea .Traditional Baidiu Tea also call Kungfu Tea, due to he manufacturing process is time-consuming so get the name. 


 3)The Ancient Tea Horse Road

The Tea Horse Road or chamadao (simplified Chinese: 茶马道;traditional Chinese: 茶馬道), now generally referred to as theAncient Tea Horse Road or chama gudao (simplified Chinese: 茶马古道; traditional Chinese: 茶馬古道) was a network of caravan paths winding through the mountains of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou in Southwest China.[1] It is also sometimes referred to as the Southern Silk Road. The route extended to Bengal in the Indian subcontinent.

 

 

 see also

·         Tea

·         Pu-erh tea

·         Shaxi, Yunnan, a well preserved historical trading town in Jianchuan County on the ancient tea route

·         Siberian Route

·         Silk Road

·         Jeff Fuchs, the first westerner to walk the entire road

 

Across the dangerous hills and rivers of Hengduan Mountain Range (spanning from the west of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces to the southeast of Tibet), in the wild lands and forests across "the Rooftop of the World", a mysterious ancient road winds and wonders. It is one of the most heart quaking roads on this planet. For thousands of years, numerous caravans had been quietly traveling along it. Standing on the Road, you can still see clearly the some-70cm-deep holes in the stone plates by stamping of horse hooves. And it seems they have numerous stories to tell. The aged Mhanee altars on roadside are engraved with all sorts of religious scriptures and mottos. This, is the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, one of the world's highest and most precipitous ancient roads which carries and spreads civilization and culture.

The ancient Tea Horse Road was a trade route mainly through Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet. In ancient times, people in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces exchanged tea for horses or medicines with people in Tibet. The tea, the medicine and the other materials were transported by Mabang (caravans), and thus the pathway was called the Tea Horse Road.


Tea Horse Road Routes

The Tea Horse Road linked Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet, stretched across Bhutan and Sikkim, Nepal and India, and then reached Western Asia and even the Red Sea coast in Western Africa. Generally speaking, the ancient Tea Horse Road was divided into two major roads: Sichuan-Tibet Tea Horse Road and Yunnan-Tibet Tea Horse Road.

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Sichuan-Tibet Tea Horse Road

The Sichuan-Tibet Tea Horse Road appeared in the Tang Dynasty, starting from Ya'an in Sichuan to Lhasa via Luding (卢定), Kangding (康定), Batang (巴塘), and Chamdo in Tibet (昌都), extending to the outside countries of Nepal, Burma and India. The complete length of the Sichuan-Tibet road was over 4,000 kilometers, with a history of more than 1,300 years.

In the Tang and Song Dynasties, the Qinghai-Tibet road was the main pathway to transport the tea to Tibet from the inland areas. In the Ming Dynasty, the Sichuan-Tibet Tea Horse Road was formed officially, which helped the commercial towns and cities along the road to expand and promoted exchanges between the inland areas and Tibet.


Yunnan-Tibet Tea Horse Road

The Yunnan-Tibet Tea Horse Road was formed roughly in the late part of the 6th century. It began from Simao (思茅/a main tea producing area) to Lhasa, crossing Pu'er in Xishuangbannan, Dali , Lijiang, and Shangri-La, continuing to Nepal, Burma and India. Therefore, it was a critical trade route connecting to Southern Asia.


Origins

The Tea Horse Road originated from Chamahushi (茶马互市/Tea Horse Market) which was the traditional ‘tea-for-horse' or ‘horse-for-tea' trade between the Han and Tibetans. In the Song Dynasty, some places in Sichuan, such as Mingshan, had a specialized agency of government named "Chamasi" (茶马司) to manage and supervise the tea-horse trade. The rising of the tea-horse trade boosted the economy and enriched the culture of the western area; meanwhile, it promoted the development of the transportation road.

The ancient Tea Horse Road was the longest ancient trade road in the world, which was more than 10,000 kilometers in length. Few people could finish the whole journey in the ancient times. Every station along the road could be an end or the start of one business. At that time, the biggest trading transfer station was Kangding (康定) in Sichuan.

Kangding was the place where Mabang (caravaners) from the west needed to change their transportation tools or just traded with local people. In 1696, the Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Kangxi, approved of the ‘tea-for-horse' or ‘horse-for-tea' trade in Kangding, which made the place become a major commercial center between the inland areas and Tibet. Through Kangding, the domestic commodities, such as silk and tea, were sold to the West and, in turn, the goods from Southern Asia, Europe and America flowed to the inland areas of China.

The ancient Tea Horse Road was spectacular. However, for Mabang, it was a dangerous and risky journey. (Mabang: horse group carrying the goods. It was the special mode of transportation in the south-western area in ancient China and it was also the main way of transporting goods on the Tea Horse Road).

The transportation situation was poor in the south-western area because there were lots of high and precipitous mountains, zigzagging roads and rapid rivers. Therefore, vehicle or waterway transportation was nearly impossible. Under such circumstances, Mabang was the only means of transportation and made the ancient Tea Horse Road special. In other words, the road was created by humans with their feet and horses with their hooves.  

The roads created by Mabang, connecting with life passages from one valley to another, from one village to another, became the ties of the south-western area. Those stations that Mabang once stayed at to do business later became towns or cities. Today's Lijiang is a well-preserved ancient town, known as the important surviving ancient town on the Tea Horse Road.    


The end of the Tea Horse Road

The ancient Tea Horse Road, equally as important as the Silk Road, has been deserted for many years. With the rapid development of the modern transportation means, the road has been replaced by the Sichuan-Tibet road and Tibetan roads.

 

Explore the Tea Horse Road

The ancient Tea-horse Road winds through China's vast west area, along which are diverse tourist resources including a wide variety of widelife, colorful ethinic culture, splendid imperial monuments and religious traces. Traveling along the Ancient Tea-Horse Road is a trip to return to the nature, a trip of the harmony between men and the nature, a trip of spiritual neutralization for urban people, and a trip of adventure and discovery. See ourYunnan Tours to see the ruins of this ancient business route.


History of Tea-horse Road

The Ancient Tea Horse Road is a commercial passage mainly for tea-horse trading between the inner land and Tibet. In the history, "The Ancient Tea-Horse Road"was almost across the western frontier of China.From around a thousand years ago, the Ancient Tea Route was a trade link from Yunnan, one of the first tea-producing regions: to Bengal via Burma; to Tibet; and to centralChina via Sichuan Province In addition to tea, the mule caravans carried salt. Both people and horses carried heavy loads, the tea porters sometimes carrying over 60–90 kg, which was often more than their own body weight in tea

It is believed that it was through this trading network that tea (typically tea bricks) first spread across China and Asia from its origins in Pu'er county, near Simao Prefecture in Yunnan. The route earned the name Tea-Horse Road because of the common trade ofTibetan ponies for Chinese tea, a practice dating back at least to the Song dynasty, when the sturdy horses were important for China to fight warring nomads in the north


Early Ancient Tea-horse Road

 Sichuan is the original producing area of Chinese tea. As early as 2,000 years ago, tea, as a commodity, was traded in the Western Han Dynasty. The businessmen often exchanged the local products, such as tea for yaks, with the people who lived beyond Dadu River (a Tibetan area in Sichuan). The trade road at this time was called Yaks Road, the initial ancient Tea Horse Road. 

However, the habit of having tea had not yet developed widely in China and tea was used as a valuable medical material. Therefore, it was not commonly used by Tibetans. Consequently, tea to Tibetan areas sold in limited quantities during this period.


During the Tang and Song Dynasties

In the Tang Dynasty, the Tobo regime rose in the Qianghai-Tibet Plateau, absorbing a great deal of the advanced culture around it. After Princess Wencheng married Songtsan Gampo (松赞干布/the 33rd Tibetan emperor) and later, when Princess Jincheng married Chidaizhudan Mes-ag-tshoms (尺带珠丹/ Mes-ag-tshoms/the 36th Tibetan emperor), having tea habitually was introduced to the Tobo area (now Tibet), and gradually became popular with the upper class and monks.

However, at the beginning, tea was only served as a precious medical health product, not as a usual drink, used by the royal family.

According to history, the habit of having tea developed in the Kaiyuan period of Tang Xuanzong's reign of the Tang Dynasty. As the contact between the Tobo regime and Tang increased, especially as lots of Zen monks from the inland areas went to Tobo to preach, having tea was introduced to the Tibetans.

In the late Tang Dynasty, relations between the Tobo regime and Tang became stable, friendly and peaceful. Because of the destruction of agriculture in the inland areas which resulted from the An Lushan Rebellion, the Tang government needed horses and cows for a long period from Tibet to carry textiles and tea.

This activated the official and folk trade between the two parts, and thus a large amount of cheap tea flowed into Tibet, which made the tea available for common Tibetans. From then on, having tea as a custom which was shared by the people across the country gradually formed in the Tibetan area.

During the period of the Five Dynasties and the Song Dynasty, wars broke out frequently. The central government still needed to buy war horses from Tibet, moreover, the government wanted to strengthen the political relations with tribes in the Tibetan area through the tea trade. Therefore, the mutual 'tea-for-horse' trade was set up, which made transporting tea to Tibet become an important policy administrated by the government.

The policy guaranteed the sufficient supply of tea to Tibet, prompting the development of the habit of having tea among the Tibetans, and thus the ancient Tea Horse Road was greatly extended.  


During the Ming and Qing Dynasties

In the Yuan Dynasty, Tobo was officially controlled by the central government. In order to develop the transportation between Tibet and the inland areas, the Yuan government set up many stations in the Tibetan area, extending the Sichuan-Tibet Tea Horse Road considerably.  

In the Ming Dynasty, the government attached much importance to the tea supply in the Tibetan area. For this, a series of laws and regulations about tea used in the Tibetan area were made to keep the tea production, selling, trafficking, price and quality under their supervision and control, limiting the sales quantities and inhibiting speculation in the Tibetan area.  

In the Qing Dynasty, Sichuan played a more important role in ruling Tibet. The officials and soldiers were mostly detached by the Sichuan government who supported their foodstuff and pay. The closer relation promoted the 'tea-for-horse' trade between Sichuan and Tibet. Moreover, during this period, the trade was not only just a 'tea-for-horse' trade, but a comprehensive Han-Tibetan trade in which tea predominated and the local products and various goods were included.

In the 41st year of the Kangxi Emperor's reign (1702), the central government set up the Chaguan (Tea Pass) in Kangding, and made it the collection and distribution center of tea transportation to Tibet, and the important transportation center on the ancient Tea Horse Road.


After 1957

After 1957, Chinese government built Yunnan-Tibet and Zhong-Xiang motor ways. Materials and commodities have been transported to Tibet. That ended the out-of-date way of carrying cargos by man and horses on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road.

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