It is said that Tianbao Village was built in 1862 by the Qing government as a fortress to prevent the armies of Shi Dakai, a rebel general, to march into Sichuan. It was built along the edge of cliffs. It may seem dangerous if you look down; but as the saying goes, “It is safer to be in the eye of the storm”, the formidable terrain makes it easy to defend and hard to attack. The village measures 1,500 m long, 20 m high and 10 m wide. Not only is the roof made of hard rocks, but also inside there are thirteen solid stone village gates that you have to get through one by one before you can enter the village. This makes it a much stronger fortress.

The scenery around is as impressive as the village itself. When it is sunny the red sand stones of the cave glitter. Green bamboos surround the cave and serve as a natural screen that blocks it from sight. If you walk around the village, you will see rare giant mushroom stones shaped like an umbrella more than 10 metres high. Legend has it that it used to be the umbrella of the head master of Xianyu Cave. He put it here and it became the yellow stone. So the local people call it “the yellow umbrella stone”.

During the early years of the Republic of China, theft was prevalent and the local lords moved to Tianbao Village seeking safety and peace. The place provided a save haven for them. Such a peculiar choice of site for a village really protects it from any disturbance.

The Shunan Bamboo Sea

Jack Li

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