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Baisha Culture

Baisha Town is situated 16 km to the north of Lijiang old town. It was the earliest political center as well as one of the earliest communities of the Naxi ethnic minority. Liuli Hall (the Glaze Hall), Dabaoji Palace and Dating Pavilion etc were constructed in the Ming Dynasty when Chieftain Mu was in its heyday. The frescos in them are of high value and have been listed as key protected cultural relic items in China.

In the 15th year of Hongwu Period of the Ming Dynasty, Chieftain Ah Jia Ah De submitted himself to the Ming Court and was bestowed a family name “Mu (wood)” by Emperor Taizu (Zhu Yuanzhang). From then on, he advocated to learn from the Central China and introduced into Lijiang the advanced culture and techniques to build over 20 temples. Painters of Han, Titan, Naxi, Bai and other ethnic groups were employed to make frescos in them. Dabaoji Palace and the Glaze Hall are the two major sites famous for Ming frescos.

On the 12 frescos in Dabaoji Palace, there are altogether 167 images of religious figures such as Tathagats Preaching, Four Deva Kings, Buddhist Monks and Three Vajras of Lamaism etc. These religious figures were drawn delicately with pastel colors. They are the amalgamation of Mahayana, Daoism and Lamaism. Observing carefully, you can also find scenes of how people lived at that time such as hunting, fishing, forging, fetching firewood and weaving etc. Additionally, there are galloping horses, booming flowers, trees, farmlands, houses and so on to present a mundane world.

These frescos were made jointly by painters from ethnic groups such as Han, Tibetan and Naxi etc; so different painters presented their understandings of Buddhism on the fresco works. The unconstraint of Dongba, the brightness of Lamaism and the solemnity of Mahayana can all find full expression. These frescos exist as proof for cultural exchanges between different ethnic minorities Lijiang Area.

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