Liulichang is known throughout China and the world for its ancient books, calligraphy, paintings, rubbings, ink stones and ink. The street, which is only 750 meters long, is located south of Hepingmen (Peace) Gate within walking distance of the Hepingmen Quanjude Peking Roast Duck. If you are an art-buff, meandering around the Liulichang Street would be an unforgettable experience along your China travel of Beijing.
In Ming and Qing times, Liulichang was a favorite haunt for scholars, painters and calligraphers that gathered there to write, compile and purchase books, as well as to paint and compose poetry. By the Kangxi period (1661-1722), Liulichang had become a flourishing cultural center and was described as having “homes and buildings lined up like fish scales.” During the Qianlong period (1736-1796), the street was even more prosperous. There one could find “rooms filed to the roof beams with all kinds of books,”“a street filled with treasures and trinkets,” and the “quintessence of all the markets in the capital concentrated in one street.” When Emperor Qianlong decided to revise the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature, he ordered scholars from the project, and Liulichang became a center for research in textual criticism. For visiting scholars, a book-buying trip to Liulichang’ s over 30 bookstores was one of the pleasure of a stay in Beijing.
The Liulichang of Qianlong period was described in the notes of Li Wenzao: “To the south of the kiln is bridge which separates the tile works in to two sections. To the east of the bridge, the street is narrow and for the most part, the shops there sell spectacles, metal flues for household use, and daily necessities. To the west of the bridge, the road is wider, and besides the regular bookshops, there are shops selling antiques and other curios, shops specializing in calligraphy books, scroll mounters, professional scribes, engravers of name seals and wooden blocks for painting, as well as shops where stone tablets are inscribed. Here also are shops offering the articles needed by a scholar participating in the imperial examinations-brushed, paper, ink bottles, paperweights…” This was Liulichang up till the end of the Qing Dynasty. In his book Postscript to the Bookshops of Liulicahng, the bibliographer Miao Quansun (1844-1919) listed bookshops, the names of which had remained unchanged from the Qianlong period up through the early 20th century. Those established more recently were also recorded, of which one, Hanwenzhai, was still in business during the 1950s. Liulichang, this ancient area, has contributed greatly to China tourism of Beijing, because it has become a must-have for art-favored travelers domestic and abroad.
At the end of the Qing Dynasty, the Superior-Level Normal School, the Five-Cities (in the Ming, Beijing was divided into five city districts) School and the headquarters of the Telephone Company were built on the site of the glazed tile works. In 1927, when Hepingmen (Peace) Gate was opened up in the city wall, the bridge was demolished and Nanxinhua Road was built, dividing Liulichang into eastern and western sections. The east became known as a center for antiques and curious, while the west was famous for its books. Shanghai Commercial Press, China Publishing House and Youzheng Press, which published books of Chinese calligraphy, all established branches here.
To the scenery-lovers, they may take Yangtze River cruises to as their starting point of their China travel, while to the art-seekers, they may prefer to discover more about Chinese art along their travel. In this case, exploring the ancient books, calligraphy, paintings, rubbings, ink stones and ink in Liulichang Beijing would be a great idea for them.
Welcome to FC2!