Bingzhongluo History in Nujiang

Bingzhongluo, the largest tableland in the Nujiang Canyon, is located at the boundary of Yunnan Province and Tibet Autonomous Region. The isolated, special environment and rainy, humid climate of Bingzhongluo makes it a good grain-producing area, as well as a place where various ethnic groups and religions live with and influence each other.

Earliest Settlers

The Nu people were the earliest settlers of Nujiang Canyon, according to historical records, arriving here more than 1,000 years ago. They call themselves the “Anu,” and officially became the “Nu” ethnic group after the founding of New China.In Bingzhongluo, along both sides of the Nujiang river, crops grow in profusion while the houses of the families who farm them stand nearby in the shade. As you drive uphill, the form of Bingzhongluo, that of a lotus, became apparent.

Structures were comparatively concentrated around the township government building, while other houses and villages were composed in trapezoids on both sides of the river. Together with the golden fields, they constituted a serene and idyllic vista.This is the homeland of the Nu people. Decades ago, Nujiang Canyon was a dream destination for adventurers and travelers, because of its unique landform and almost primitive human living conditions. Now, it is one of the most charming places in the area.

The village called Chongding built on a sloping hillside facing the river. Wooden houses nestle among luxuriant trees and beside limpid brooks. The beautiful scenery and fresh air of this quiet village do indeed make it “a land of peach blossom. Today it is a designated tourist destination. In the households near the entrance of the village, groups of tourists were either sightseeing or drinking tea.Villagers’ houses are open to visitors and when you go into one, the home of the Liu Ji’an family. Typically it was a multi-ethnic household.The head of the family is an 81-year-old Nu, his wife a Tibetan. Their son and our host Liu Ji’an, 61, is married to a woman of similar ethnic mix. Of their three sons and two daughters, two are married to Lisu and Han nationalities, while a third, their eldest daughter’s husband, is a Nu.Broken down, this four-generation household of 17 people comes from four ethnic groups who speak Nu, Tibetan, Lisu, Dulong and Han.

Though the new house was not yet complete, the concrete ground and wood structure indicated that it was not going to be of traditional design.Tourism and working outside are today no longer rare occurrences in this isolated canyon. And remote as it is, it is no longer an inaccessible place. The doors of the mountains have been opened, and that on the inside and outside is today inextricably connected.

A Peaceful Buddhist Village

As multiple ethnic groups have settled and thrived in the area, they have also come to learn to respect the different beliefs and religions.

Lama village, a multi-ethnic village located in the central area of the tableland, was so named because of its lamasery, the “Puhua Temple.”Compared to Chongding village, not far away, houses in Lama village were more concentrated, but a little simple and crude. Living standards in this village are not very high, and the environment rather isolated.

Although small, Lama village is home to a variety of ethnic groups. Nowadays, however, it is very difficult to distinguish the ethnicity of villagers in Bingzhongluo from their appearance and customs.

Puhua Temple is located on a tableland called Changputong and its white enclosure and gate have been newly renovated. Its abbot, 72-year-old Ganma Yuanzhai, said the temple belongs to the karma bka’ brgyud pa sect, and dates back over 200 years.The abbot is a Nu and joined the temple as a boy aged 12. The abbot said the temple gets very crowded during the Tibetan New Year, according to the Tibetan lunar calendar, and on the Fairy Festival of the Nu people which falls on the 15th of the third lunar month.

The lamasery, explained the old abbot, was not only influential in the area, but was the only lamasery in the whole prefecture. That was why among the 5,700 population of the township, about 2,000 were followers of Tibetan Buddhism.