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October 23, 2009

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Qibao Town of seven treasures, smoked toads

QIBAO Town is a window on history where you can appreciate ancient architecture, folk arts, smoked toads and cricket fighting. Dong Jing reports. Q ibao Town in Minhang District is one of Shanghai's oldest and most famous water towns and is free from traffic jams, pollution, noise and overcrowding. Just 18 kilometers from downtown, it makes a perfect day trip.

Qibao was built on two rivers and was a flourishing trading center for centuries.

It was built in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (AD 907-979) around 1,000 years ago. It developed in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and flourished in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

Qibao means "seven treasures" and legend has it that there were seven treasures in the area: a golden lotus scripture written by an imperial concubine in the 10th century, a magic tree dating back a thousand years, a great bell from afar, a Buddha from afar, a golden rooster, jade chopsticks and jade ax.

According to historians, only four actually existed - the scripture, the bell, the tree and the rooster - and only two survive today, the scripture and the bell.

Visitors can appreciate ancient architecture, old bridges, ancient trees, old wells and other features.

Qibao has modernized somewhat, along with the city of Shanghai, but visitors can still savor traditional food, culture, and arts and crafts. Cricket fighting

Cricket fighting and appreciation is part of Chinese culture and the town still features cricket fighting daily during the National Day holiday and the annual Cricket Culture Festival.

A cricket museum covers cricket fighting, cricket singing and all things cricket over the centuries. This includes cricket houses, paintings, calligraphy and poetry.

Qibao Town in a semi-rural area is known for fierce and vigorous crickets, the famous Iron Sand and Blue species, referring to colors of their necks (sand) and legs (blue). Traditional snacks

Vendors in the old lanes sell traditional and colorful snacks. They include polished glutinous rice paste (Qibao gao), dried bean curd wrapped in lotus leaves (hebao doufugan), roasted sweet potatoes (kao hongshu), smoked toads (xun laihama) and sugar-coated hawthorns on sticks (tang hulu).

Hours: 8am-8pm

Address: Qibao Town, Minhang District

Tel: 6461-5308

How to get there: Buses 739, 803, 513, 87, 91, 92, 748, 735 and Metro Line 9 Qibao Temple

Dating back to the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, the splendid temple was renovated and expanded during the Ming Dynasty when it covered more than 3 hectares. It played an important role in the development of Qibao Town.

It was said to contain the seven treasures. A revered monk named Jing used to study and interpret Buddhist scriptures there.

His work is recorded in inscriptions on the big bell.

The temple was rebuilt in 2002 and once again covers more than 3 hectares.

The new Qibao Temple, with ingenious designs for both buildings and gardens, presents visitors with an insight of the unique architectural styles of the Han (206-220 BC) and Tang (AD 618-907) dynasties. Shadow play

Shadow play was once a famous feature in Shanghai culture and it is said to have been introduced by a man named Mao Gengyu from Qibao Town.

Shadow play is based on widely known historical events and performed in local dialect. In addition to the shadow, performances involve colorful drawings and expressive music.


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