Linxia
A Brief Survey
About 130 kilometers southwest of Lanzhou on the northwestern plateau, lies the famous, ancient city o[ Linxi-a—the "Land Port of Gansu". Linxia stands on the bank of the lower reaches of the Daxia River, since the river is its neighbor, the town is called" neighbor" (" lin")to the "Xia" which refers to the Daxia River.
Surrounded by hills, Linxia slopes down gently from southwest to northeast and is at an average elevation o[ 1, 917 meters above sea level. The four seasons in Linxia are very distinct and the temperature variation between day and night is fairly great. The average annual temperature is 6.7 degrees centigrade. The warmest month is in July with an average temperature of 18. 1 degrees. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of -7.4 degrees. The population of Linxia is about 150, 000. Being the seat of government of the Linxia Hui Au-tonomous Prefecture, Linxia serves as a political, economic, cultural, and communication center for the prefecture. The ethnic groups living here are Han, Hui, Dongxian'g,Baot an, Salar, Tuzu, Tibetan, and Mongolian. Islam is one of the most important religions here and the city is characterized by its strong Islamic influence. Other religions here are Bud-dhism, Taoism, and Christianity.
As mentioned above, Linxia, historically, was a famous commercial center, an important place for economic and cul-tural interchange between the Central Plains and the minori-ty regions in Northwest China therefore, the local minorities have a very long history in doing business. The streets downtown are lined with stores and shops selling products from all over the country.
The main crops of the area are wheat, corn, and cash crops like rapeseed, hemp, and vegetables. The major indus-trial products are optical instruments, machine components, chemical products, building materials, and light industrial products.

Scenic Spots
Hong Yuan (Red Garden)
With an area of about 40, 000 square meters, Hong Yuan lies in the northwest section of Linxia. It is a wonder-ful world of trees and flowers. By the man-made lake are a zoo, a children' s paradise, a water bird museum, tea houses, pavilions and bridges. Among these buildings, the pavilions and bridges show the most distinctive features of the local nationalities.
In Hong Yuan are some exquisite brick carvings—a kind of local handicraft. The tea houses are places where the local people like most to gather and enjoy the companionship as well as the tea, here you can see why people say that Linxia is a great harmonious family of ethnic groups.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

Dagong Bei
Located south of Hong Yuan, Dagong Bei is a good place to enjoy the sight of the palatial architecture of the northern style. With a very unique arrangement, the mosques of Dagong Bei are not only the largest group but al-so the oldest in Linxia. They were built during the Qing Dy-nasty (1636-1911 DA)

Folk Customs
Songming Yan Hua~ er Festival
Linxia Hua~ er. also called Hezhou Hua~er, is very popu-lar in this area. What makes Linxia Hua~ er different from Lianhua Mountain Hua~ er is that the style of the former is richer and full of change, the language is very poetic with a strict metrical patterns and unique rhythm, furthermore, so-lo singing antiphonally is the usual performance style rather than choral singing. Generally speaking, a hua~ er song of the Linxia style contains four or six sentences, which reveals a singer's heart-felt emotions. The subject matter is wide-ranging, but those concerning love are naturally the most popular.


Songming Yan Mountain is one of the most important locations for the Linxia Hua~ er festival. It lies 60 kilometers south of Linxia and just 28 kilometers south of the Hezheng County seat. Here the high mountains with hardy, old pines reach into the skies. Here the gentle breeze soughs through the pines and causes the trees to sway like the waves of a green lake.
The hua' er festival is actually held annually on the 28th day of the fourth lunar month, however, on the 26th day, the singers and fans begin arriving. As soon as they ar-rive, they put up their tents on the hillsides under the trees and add their voices to the singing of those who arrived ear-lier; songs of welcome fill the valley with singing which e-choes through the valley day and night. On the early morning of the 28th day, singers in threes and fours, on the river banks or on the hillsides, gather to lift their voices and sing hua' er songs. Antiphonal solos and choruses are dotted throughout the area. Of course, the most excellent singers attract large crowds around them and these places become the focal points of the festival. Everyone is caught up in the joyous tumult of the festival. In recent years, the number of those attending has been well over 100, 000; therefore, naturally, trade fairs are now held during the festival which certainly adds to the bustle and excitement of the thrilling sights and sounds.

Yanxi Qu (Wedding Songs)
Among the people of Linxia, another type of folk song is very popular, it is called Yanxi Qu. The song style is simi-lar to hua' er but usually sung antiphonally by men while they dance at wedding parties. The singingis usually with-out accompaniment, After the bride is married, the bride-groom' s parents will give a dinner party that evening to cel-ebrate the marriage. During the evening, male guests—rela-tives and friends, often sing beautiful Yanxi Qu to express good wishes to the newlyweds. Yanxi Qu' s dance move-ments are vigorous, richly expressive, and characteristic of the ethnic style. Nowadays, Yanxi Qu is not restricted to wedding parties, it has become a very popular form of art song performed both by men and women at traditional fes-stivals and when celebrating a good harvest.

Peony City
The local people are very fond of their flowers, especail-ly peonies. In Linxia, one can hardly find a single family that does not grow peonies; there are as many as 180 varieties in the town. The best places to enioy them are Dagong Bei, Hong yuan, and Donggong Guan (Eastern Mansion) where there are some ancient species which are regarded as rare treasures of China.
Every year, when the summer arrives, peonies, both in Linxia and the surrounding countryside, are in full bloom as if they were competing with each other for beauty prizes. The local people named this month "Peony Month", in which they like to visit each other and witness the beauty of their friends'peonies and share the happiness. Some peony enthusiasts even like to hold peony parties; the hosts and guests admire the peonies while sining peony songs and drinking wine. What a happy occasion!

Folk Handicrafts
Linxia Brick Carving
Linxia Brick Carving, also called,Hezhou Brick Carving, is a unique form of folk art on building facades. It first was used during the Northern Sung Dynasty (960-1127 AD) and became a mature artistic form during the Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing (1636-1911 AD) Dynasties. At present, Linxia Brick carving has assimilated the artistic characteristics of painting and wood carving, which has, even more, imbued this form of art with a style of its own. Rich and varied brick carvings can be found on many buildings in Linxia,nevertheless, Hong Yuan and Donggong Guan, are thought of as the real museums of brick carvings. In them, there are some masterpieces, by famous artists, which display unique artistic form and superb technique.
Bao' an Waist Knives
Enjoying a history of more than 130 years, Bao~ an Waist Kinves are a traditional handicraft exclusively manu-factured by the Bao' an minority. With exquisite craftman-ship and unique style,the knives are elegant and practical. There are dozens of different kinds of Bao' an Waist Knives; they are named according to their shapes, hilts, and sheaths. Among them, 'Shiyang Jin'is the most famous one. Bao' an Waist Knives are not only articles for daily use for Tibetan, Mongolian, Dongxiang and other minority groups, but also serve as exquisite ornaments and souvenirs. Over the years, they have developed a ready market in Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and some other minority districts. Of course, they are also in great demand by visitors from elsewhere.

Folk Food
Huangjou Mutton (Millet Wine Mutton)
Cooked with local mutton and locally-made millet wine. Huangjou Mutton is the best-known snack in Linxia. The lo-cal millet wine has a golden color and mellow taste. The mutton is sliced as thin as paper, put into the boiling millet wine for a few seconds, chopped green onions are added, and it is ready to serve. The taste is delicious but not too rich. Having it regularly is very good for the health.

Native Products
Tangwang Chuan Apricot
These apricots are bright orange, soft, low in cellulose, have a juicy, sweet taste and a fragrance similar to peaches. They are remarkable for their size; only three of them may weigh over 0. 5 kilograms. As they are mainly produced in Tangwang Chuan, Dongxiang Automonous County, and not suitable for transport, the fresh fruit is only available in the local area. It ripens between mid-June and the first week of July. The apricot is also processed for canning, for candied fruit and jam.

Bracken
Bracken is shaped like a hand and so it is also called ~ Foshou' (Buddha' s Hand), but the local name is 'Jixiang Cai" (Lucky Vegetable). Since it grows in the wilds, bracken is regarded as still free from pollution. So people think that it has a special medicinal value for health,it also contains various nutritive minerals and vitamins in abundance. In China, people started eating bracken long, long ago. At first, it only appeared on the common peoplet s dinner ta-bles as an ordinary, wild herb~later, it could be found on the tables of high officials and noble lords. It is said that brack-en was even among the items given as imperial tribute. When spring comes, the young bracken is fresh and ten-der, and ready either for eating right after washing or being dried and salted. As far as salted bracken is concerned, that processed in Linxia has the best color and taste. It has a ready market abroad.

White Beans
These large, white, broad beans grown in Linxia County are also one of the best-known native products which enjoy an excellent reputation for taste and quality. local area. It ripens between mid-June and the first week of July. The apricot is also processed for canning, for candied fruit and jam.

Bracken
Bracken is shaped like a hand and so it is also called ~ Foshou' (Buddha' s Hand), but the local name is 'Jixiang Cai" (Lucky Vegetable). Since it grows in the wilds, bracken is regarded as still free from pollution. So people think that it has a special medicinal value for health,it also contains various nutritive minerals and vitamins in abundance. In China, people started eating bracken long, long ago. At first, it only appeared on the common peoplet s dinner ta-bles as an ordinary, wild herb~later, it could be found on the tables of high officials and noble lords. It is said that brack-en was even among the items given as imperial tribute. When spring comes, the young bracken is fresh and ten-der, and ready either for eating right after washing or being dried and salted. As far as salted bracken is concerned, that processed in Linxia has the best color and taste. It has a ready market abroad.

White Beans
These large, white, broad beans grown in Linxia County are also one of the best-known native products which enjoy an excellent reputation for taste and quality.