by Li Xiaobo
Luo Cheng - the Noah’s ark of the stream of life,salt.
Over looking from the sky, Luo Cheng, the ancient town situated in the south of Le Shan,is famous for the layout shaping like an ark.It is also the original model of the China Town in Australia.
It is said that Luo was a dry town, every single drop was as treasured as gold.In that case, the town was built in the shape of an ark to pray for the abundant water.But from my prospective, Luo is just like the Noah ,shipping hope, lives and the history of salt production in Leshan from Han dynasty.
The ark-shaped ancient street is 2000 meters long, from south to north.It is narrow at both ends and broad in the middle.The surface of the street is like the deck of a ship.And the middle stage is like a canopy.The Three Places(Nanhua Palace, Fushuou Palace, Wenchang Palace) and Nine Temples(Yuwang Temple,Chuangzhu Temple, Lingguan Temple, Luban Temple, Dongyue Temple,Xiaogong Temple,Xingxin Temple,Dafudin Temple and Luocheng Temple)show the old prosperity through out the long history.When you walking on the street,you will see the giant black tube which is endless.The tube has sent the stream of white-gold like salt water to salt factory in Wu Tong Qiao for hundreds of years linking the tradition and the reality vividly and silently.
Most towns in Sichuan are famous for their beautiful landscape,but Luo Cheng is well-known for its subtle streets design .Luo Cheng was established in Ming dynasty. In its name, Luo means four dimensions and Cheng means gathering wealth making it blessed,fertile and vital.Now, the anniversary of begging for the rain,Chao Bai Ling Guan,is also an activity praying for salt spring and crystallization.
The salt town has stoppend producing salt.However,the salt tube,the ark shape and busy voices still remain.After been built for more than four hundred years, Luo Cheng,the Noah’s ark of salt,is still sailing,but in peace and tranquilize.
Luo Quan- The greatest dragon town in Sichuan
The thousand-year old Luo Quan is situated at a balka near the tributary of Tuo River. Luo Quan
has a long street looks like a dragon.It is the reason that the town is called the greatest dragon town in Sichuan.
Luo Quan zi famous for its salt.According to historical records, Luo Quan’s salt well was sank dated back to Qin dynasty.And the number of the wells reached 1200 at the end of the 19th century. The scale of the wells are also large.Its well salt has sold to many places including Yunnan,Chongqing,Guizhou and Tibet.In 1925, Luo Quan won the gold prize in the universal exhibition in Paris,making it famous worldwide.
At the entry of the town,stands the Yanshen temple consecrating Guan Zhong, the famous politician in Chunqiu period which is the only one in China.Guan Zhong helped Duke Huan of Qi achieved the edifice of Five Hegemons. The construction of Yanshen Temple was funded by salt businessmen in the 7th year of Tongzhi Period of Qing dynasty.The temple still preserves its ancient pattern.Folklore, opera stories, folk customs and landscape scenery are carved on the mean column.The salt business brought prosperity to the town in the mountains and also learned and refined descendant making possible to let ethic and desire coexisted there.
The salt industry in Luo Quan is depressed now, and only a few priests live in the temple.In the eyes of the local, maybe Yanshen Temple has become a symbol of luck which is already enough for them addition to Luoquan Well Meeting and the Railway Protection Movement giving it more meaning from the new era.
Today’s Luo Quan is full of jumbled stores.It is really difficult for us to chase the good old time. What we have is the memory of the town which is unfortunately fading away from our brain.
Zigong, city with the insight of the ancestors
The charm of Dujiangyan comes from the abundant water that fertilize Chengdu,the land of abundance.By contrast, Zigong is not rich in natural resources but rich in intelligence from the ancestors. Salt is indispensable for Zigong in compared with dinosaurs and lantern show which are also famous in this city.
Zigong’s salt industry starter not very early.It is because the city was located in the middle of Sichuan basin, but the salt is easier to find around the edge of the basin where water rush in the valley carrying salt to the surface or the shallow layer of the earth.However,water with salt gathered in the middle of the basin.The salt water would be abundant once the well was sank when the water level was availably high.
Zigong salt is notable in history and depth. The salt industry was stared at Duke Zhang’s period in Han dynasty.Its business pattern formed in Wei Jin Southern and Northern Dynasties.Then it tended heyday in the Xianxian Tongzhi years (1851 - 1874).Zhuotong well of Song dynasty ended the history digging by huge opening. When every inch sank further, wisdom and perseverance was needed.The derrick was getting higher and higher, the halogen tube was getting longer and longer. In 1835, Sunhan Well reached 1001.42 meters, becoming the world’s first thousands-meters deep artificial and was know as Chinese fifth largest inventionand the father of the world's oil drilling. Zigong salt wells accomplished Chinese history of science and technology in the world.
Zigong salt wells benefited the commerce there.Businessmen brought salt to cities and towns along the river far reaching to Yunnan,Hunan and Hubei.The 1.5 km-long ancient salt road , roadside wells, salt wharf and gravity wells site recorded the history of salt.A hundred and fifty years ago, Sichuan’s salt saved Chu area twice,saving people in Hunan and Hubei from the disaster of lacking salt. Wangye Temple was built to thank the ancestors. In Yandi Temple,people pray to fire and salt for good luck.
Now Zigong is filled with energy.The salty smell that you might smell in the air makes the thousands-year old ancient city unique on the earth.