In the markets and streets as well as the village roads throughout Sichuan, you can see teahouses with unique Sichuan styles. Sitting in bamboo chairs, people gather around wooden tables, hold special tea wares exclusively owned by the teahouse and take a sip of fragrant tea.
What the visitors see and experience by is what the culture of Sichuan has to offer. The culture of Sichuan originated from today’s Sichuan province. It exerts an influence on areas such as Tianshui to the north, Hanzhong as well as eastern Yunnan and western Guizhou to the south, and it survives and prevails in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Like any other culture in China, it is an important part of Chinese culture with a long history and striking local features. The Sanxing Pile historic site was unearthed in Guanghan, Sichuan in 1986 proving that Sichuan culture has been prosperous as early as 4000 years ago.
2000 years ago, Sichuan, the kingdom of silks, opened the southwest Silk Road, which started from Chengdu and ended in Mid Asia and Europe by passing Burma and India. It was through this road that famous Sichuan silks, brocades, porcelains and tea leaves were exported to other countries and such items as jewelries, jades, pearls, seashells and glasses were introduced to Sichuan. This road opened a door of cross-cultural communications between Sichuan and other regions. Characterized by various patterns and exquisite embroidery, the Sichuan brocades back then were looked on as the symbol of Chinese culture.
The prosperity of the Sichuan culture causes its gathering of outstanding scholars and talented people. Guo Moruo, the late renowned Sichuan writer, said in his famous masterpiece The Anecdotes of Sichuan, “Since educationalist Wen Weng vigorously subsidized the cultural and educational undertakings in Sichuan, such historical figures as Yangxiong and Sima Xiangru stood out one after another. Thus, most of the poets, like Libai in the Tang Dynasty and Sushi in the Northern Song Dynasty, are from Sichuan.” Apart from educationalist Wen Weng, classical Chinese poet Yangxiong, Sima Xiangru, poet Libai and writer Sushi mentioned above, such as great poets Dufu, Luyou and Huang Tingjian have lived in Sichuan. Dufu wrote nearly 1/3 of his poems in Sichuan.
In the past, the prosperity of literacy creation served as a driving force behind the rapid development of the printing industry in Sichuan. In the Tang Dynasty over 1,200 years ago, Chengdu is the most prosperous and the important printing center that was as famous as Chang’an (in today’s Xi’an and its nearby areas). It was in the Song Dynasty that the block printing industry in Sichuan witnessed its unprecedented growth. It was recorded that the block printing of Sichuan in the Song Dynasty tops that elsewhere.
The culture of Sichuan has a long and glorious history. As early as in the trace of human activity, the Wushan people and Ziyang people once lived in Sichuan. A saying goes like this, “The people from western and eastern Sichuan shared the same ancestors.” As Chinese civilization developed, the culture of Sichuan glowed with dazzling light in successive dynasties. Up until now, Sichuan remains a renewed and important part of Chinese culture.