Guilin History and Culture

Guilin has a history of several thousand years, and it dates back to the Neolithic Age. According to archaeological research of the remains in Banji cave and Zengpi cave, the people of Zengpi cave had entered into the matriarchal society. In its development, the Guilin people has created their own special and brilliant culture and spirit, which is reflected in their daily life.

Before 221BC, Guilin is a part of Baiyue, and is the residential place of Baiyue people. In 221BC, the army of the Qin Dynasty conquered Baiyue region, and Baiyue became a part of China, and was under the government of the central government, which set up three prefectures to deal with regional affairs: Guilin, Xiang and Nanhai. During the war between the Qin Dynasty and Baiyue,  the Qin Dynasty unearthed Lingqu canal, and it was completed in 221BC, which linked the Xiang River and Li River, and guaranteed the water transportation from the north to the south. It had played an important role in transporting army and goods and materials, which gave a  big support to the army of the Qin Dynasty. Lingqu canal is one of the most oldest canal in the world, praised as a pearl of hydraulic construction in the ancient world. It made Guilin prominent in politics, economy,  culture and military deployment. The name of Guilin is first appeared in the name of Guilin prefecture which was famous for its production of cinnamon.

lingqu canal

In 111BC of the Western Han Dynasty, a county, called Shi'an was set up in Guilin, subordinate to Lingling prefecture. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, it was subordinate to Anhou country. In the Three Kingdoms Period (220 AD-280 AD), Guilin was first under the government of the Shu kingdom, and then took over by the Wu kingdom. In 265, Shi’an county of Shi'an prefecture was set up and its government  was settled in Guilin. In the Southern Dynasties (420 AD -589 AD), it was renamed to Guizhou. In the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581 AD-907 AD), Guilin was subordinate to Guizhou fu. In the Five Dynasties an Ten Kingdoms period (907AD-960 AD), it was subordinated to Guizhou first in the Chu country and then in the South Han. In the Song Dynasty(960 AD-1279 AD), it was first subordinated to Guizhou of Guangnan west lu, and then to Jingjiang fu. In this dynasty, administrative system was divided to three levels: lu, zhou(fu, jun) and xian. In the Yuan Dynasty(1271AD-1368AD), it renamed to Jingjiang lu of Guangxi branch secretariat, and Guilin at that time was also called Jingjiang. In the Ming Dynasty(1368 AD-1644 AD), it was renamed to Guilin fu, which remained the same in the Qing Dynasty.

From November, 1945 to July, 1945, it was occupied by the Japanese army. In 1949, Guilin was liberated from war, and became a city of Guangxi province.

In the ancient, Guilin was the political, economic, military and cultural center of Guangxi, and it has created glorious culture along with its long history.  It is included in the first list of 24 historic and cultural cities announced by the State Council, having its special history and culture and rich humanistic and cultural tourism resources. Guilin is in the junction of Zhongyuan culture and Lingnan culture, which adds a specialty to Guilin culture. In a development of thousands of  years, Guilin people has created a profound culture, and it has a prehistoric culture with a representative of Zengpi cave relic, a culture of water construction, a scenery culture, a Buddhism culture and a culture of rice noodles.

Guilin has been created its culture from the Qin Dynasty which  built the Lingqu canal and military castles , and the relics of supporting facilities of the canal and  castles have historic and cultural value. At that time, a temple named Yao miao was built on the highest hill,Yao shan in Guilin. in Yushan, a mountain, there are relics of temple, pavilion and buildings of Emperor Shun, in the folk tales, it is said that  Emperor Shun came to Guilin in his inspection of the south and rested in Yushan.

In the Ming Dynasty, Guilin was ruled by the seignior, Zhu Shouqian, who was also called Jingjiang prince. Jingjiang is the name of Guilin at that time. The mansion of Zhu Shouqian is built in 1392, which is called Jingjiang prince's palace, and Jingjiang princes' city is built later, and ruined in war, but its city wall made of bluestone is well kept. In the Qin Dynasty, Guangxi examination hall is built on the site of Jingjiang prince city, which cultivated lots of brilliant students.

jingjiang prince's palace

Here is a scenery culture which includes stone carving and poems about Guilin scenery. Guilin has lots of inscriptions on precipices,  and is one of the biggest six bases of stone inscription, and the number of its inscriptions has amounted to 2000. Guihai stele forest and Buddhist rock carvings in Xishan are the two most famous. And there is a museum called Museum of Guihai stele forest. The inscription of Guihai stele forest has written things about politics, economy an so on, and it has various form like poem, and has several script styles, like seal script,  clerical script, cursive script and regular script . The stone figure in Buddhist rock carvings in Xishan are mainly about buddhist, and the number of it is 242. The beautiful scenery of Guilin is well-known from the ancient time, and there are lots of poems praising it. It was once praised in a poem written by a famous poet, Han Yu, of the Tang Dynasty, and here are two verses: 江作青罗带,山如碧玉篸, which means that the winding and clean river is like a green lightsome ribbon, and the tall and straight hill is like a green jade hair clasp. And later it was highly praised by a poet-Wang Zhenggong in 1201, who wrote: Guilin’s scenery is best among all under heaven.

stone inscription

Guilin has a Buddhism culture, and it has many Buddhism temple, like Kuaiyuan temple and Qixia temple. Kuaiyuan temple has a famous pagoda, called Sheli pagoda. Qixia temple was built in the Tang Dynasty,  ruined in the wartime, and repaired. And now it remains the construction style of the Tang Dynasty. Other things related with Buddhism are like Sun and Moon pagodas, and Buddhist rock carvings in Xishan.

Rice is the main grain crop in Guilin, and the staple food of Guilin people. People may eat steamed rice or eat rice noodles. Rice noodles are made from rice, and Guillin people has made several kinds of rice noodles which is also called mifen, like Guilin rice noodles. Guilin rice noodles are round and soft, different from rice noodles made in other places. Guilin people are fond of eating rice noodles, which may be their food in breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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