- Yangtze Gorge Brief
- The River's Source
- Getting There
- Facts For The Traveler
- The Yangtze River:An introduction
- The Source to Yichang
- ZhongXian & Shibaozhai
- QuTang Gorge
- The Little Three Gorges
- WuXia Gorges
- Xiling Gorges
- The Middle Reaches
- The Lower Reaches
There are two moving stories about how Zhongxian (Loyal County) got its name. In the Warring States period (475--22l BC), Ba Manzi, a native of Zhongxian, became a general to the army of the Kingdom of Ba. Towards the end of the Zhou dynasty tile Kingdom of Ba was in a state of civil war, and Ba Manzi was sent to the Kingdom of Chu to beg military assistance to put down the rebellion. The price demanded by Chu was the forfeit of three Ba cities. Once Chu's troops had helped restore stability to Ba, the King of Chu sent his minister to demand the payoff. Ba Manzi, however, said f 'Though I promised Chu the cities you will take my head in thanks to the King of Chu, for the cities of Ba cannot be given away', whereupon he cut off his own head. Receiving his minister's account, the King of Chu sighed f 'Cities would count as nothing had I loyal ministers like Ba Manzi'. He then ordered that Ba Manzi's head be buried with full honours.
The second tale is of another man of Zhongxian, the valiant general Yan Yan, who Served the Minor Han dynasty (AD 221--63). Captured by the Shu general Zhang Fei, he refused to surrender, saying boldly f 'In my country we had a general who cut off his own head but we do not have a general who surrendered'. Enraged, Zhang Fei ordered Yan's beheading. The doomed general remained perfectly calm as he asked simply, 'Why are you so angry? lf you want to cut off my head then give the order, but there is no point in getting angry and upsetting yourself.' Zhang Fei was so deeply moved by Yan's loyalty and bravery in the face of death that he personally unbound him, treating him as an honored soldier.
Traditionally, the thick bamboo hawsers used to haul junks over the rapids were made in this area, as the local bamboo is especially tenacious. Today, bamboo handicrafts are a thriving industry, while the local food specialty is ZhongXian beancurd milk.
Shibaozhai represents the first
gem of Chinese architecture to be encountered
on the downstream journey. From afar, the protruding
220-metre (720-foot) hill on the north bank
can appear to resemble a jade seal, and is so
named. The creation of the hill is attributed
to the goddess Nuwo, who caused a rock slide
while she was redecorating the sky after a fierce
battle between two warring dukes.
A red pavilion hugs one side of this rock. lts tall yellow entrance gate is decorated with lions and dragons and etched with an inscription inviting the visitor to climb the ladder and ascend into a 'Little Fairyland'. The temple at the top was built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736--96) and access to it was by an iron chain attached to the cliff. A nine-storeyed wooden pavilion was added in 1819 so that monks and visitors to the temple would not have to suffer the discomforts of the chain ascent. In 1956 three more storeys were added. Each floor is dedicated to famous generals of the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220--65), local scholars and
renowned Chinese poets. The rising waters of the river will eventually surround the pagoda, which will be preserved with a tiny dam of its own, but left on an island.
In front of Ganyu Palace at the top of Jade Seal Hill is the Duck Hole. It is said that as spring turns to summer, if you take a live duck and drop it through the hole, it will quickly reappear swimming in the Yangtze. In the past the monks apparently drew their drinking water from this hole by using a pipe made of bamboo.
The spirit wall in the temple's main hall is constructed of excavated Han-dynasty
(206 BC--AD 220) bricks. The hall behind is dedicated on the right to Generals Zhang Fei and Yan Yan (see above and page 42) of the Three Kingdoms, and on the left to General Qin Liangyu (1576--l648) who fought bravely against the Manchu forces. A mural shows the goddess Nuwo repairing the sky. In the rear hall are the remains of the Rice Flowing Hole. Legend has it that long ago just enough husked rice would flow up from the small hole each day for the needs of the monks and their guests. One day a greedy monk, thinking he could become rich, chiselled a bigger hole, and the rice flow ceased forever.
Many of the tourist cruise ships dock at Shibaozhai for a few hours' visit. For those on scheduled passenger boats, you should disembark at Xituozhen on the south bank and transfer to local ferries to cross the river.
The new village of Shibaozhai is located above the present town which will be submerged by the end of 2002.