According to a public survey, "if you have 101 things to do in Dali,
what's the most important of all?" 100 percent answered "to visit Zhoucheng and
Xizhou." Surely, it's a "must" for the travelers. Because you can enjoy lovely
ethical clothes, fairylike programs, decorative architectures, gifted garden
parties and wonderful handicrafts in here.
Located at only 18 kilometers north of Dali, Xizhou faces Erhai on the east
and rests on Cangshan in the west. It's not only a historically famous city but
also a typical commercial center of Bai Nationality. Speaking of Xizhou, people
of course take importance to the Bai-style architectures. Examples are Yan's
compound, Hou's compound and Dong's compound.
The Bai houses are very distinctive. Entering Xizhou, capacious courtyard and
peaceful streets treat visitors with calmness and elegance which were typical in
the ancient times. The Yan's compound lies in the central part of Xizhou. It is
made up of five courtyards from north to south, including Sanfangyizhaobi
(compounds with three houses on each side and a screen wall facing the main
house), Sihewutianjing (compounds with four houses in the center and five light
wells in each corner) and an independent three-storied western-style building.
Each of the houses puts great emphasis on designing the front gate of the
compound, because it shows the owner's economic status and also is the symbol of
bringing honor to his ancestor. Doors, windows and walls are designed delicately
and beautifully. The doors and windows are engraved with the figures ofdifferent
birds and flowers. The walls are decorated with wash paintings. All of these
reveal the superb skills and creative talents of the Bai Nationality.
Besides visiting the Bai-style architectures, visitors also have chances to
touch the living styles of the local people, taste their special food, and drink
their unique tea. "Three Courses of Tea" is very dainty; it's different from
other Chinese tea. The first course smells a little bitter; the second course is
a bit sweet (adding candy and walnut pieces in it); and the third course is
memorable (with condiments in it). Maybe you have drunk black tea, green tea,
jasmine tea or other kinds of Chinese tea, but "three courses of tea" gives you
a different feel. It's just like life, bitter first and sweet later. You must
taste slowly. Meanwhile, when you taste the tea, you can also enjoy the Bai's
singing and dancing performances, and take part in some local evenings and
activities. In the day-time, you can go to the commercial center to buy what you
want, such as marble wares, which enjoy great popularity among the visitors.
The Bai is a minority reveling in art. The Yan's compound stands for the
Bai's traditional residential characteristics and is a combination of Chinese
and western architectural style. In 1987, it was announced by the State Council
to be one of the third group of State Monuments.