Whomever finds themselves descending down from Caishikou Intersection and subway station in search for the top rated Buddhist Temple of the Source of the Law (Fayuansi) which lies in the southern parts of this area's hutong, might take some time to stray off the beaten path and dwell the few remaining Hutong nearby the famed and popular Temple.
Although well known and described in history books on the city, few of today's flocks of visitors have read these and thus have an inkling of the rich and interesting history of the Caishikou Hutong area's. As such they have missed out of the fact that several residences of Former Beijing Celebrities lie tucked away in the surrounding Hutong.
Among the nearby Hutong alley's with hidden treasures is the Nanbajie Hutong which is historically noted as the location of the first ever Beijing home of Lu Xun (1881 A - 1936 A), the writer by many regarded as the founding father or cornerstone of modern Chinese Literature.
Although the place where Lu Xun wrote some of his best and most famous works is hardly recognised as a pilgrimmage site for modern Literati in Beijing today, the street and its humble Hutong home should be regarded as among the finest cultural treasures in China today.
In fact, before it was torn down over the past decade, the entire neighborhood should have been regarded as a living unit with a 1000 years history, fit to be named UNESCO world cultural heritage all within its on right, as it was regarded by some.
Unfortunately, as one willl find, the National Government had its own reason to remove the ”blight” of the Beijing Hutong (after a hot summer in the year 1989), and thus up to 90% the historic Caishikou neighborhood has been rebuilt, with residents pushed outside the city and fresh, higher income citizens (possibly with more positive views of the Government) moving in.
This page was last updated on: June 7, 2017
Nlabla in background.
Nanbajie Hutong & Lu Xun first former residence - How to Get There
As hinted above and further described in the introduction to the Xuanwu District, today when one first arrives in the Caishikou area of Xuanwu District of Beijing one is not immediately confronted with a seemingly endless see of low rise hutong structures with interconnecting alley's. Far from it. On the contrary, within the last decade or so, especially the Caishikou area of Xuanwu has been transformed lifting the grey chaos, intimacy, romance but also squalor of the centuries old Hutong, replacing them with a sea of modern appartments highrise. With the destruction and following arrival of the new age, little or nothing has been left to memorize the Hutong and the history of the area by. Only the tiniest of momentos remain.
Therefor, do not follow your nose and pick your way through the district expecting to run into the landmark of your interest. Instead be meticulous and follow the instructions on this page in order to save time and also to avoid getting hopelessly lost between modern urban highrises.
As one may find when browsing our pages on the Xuanwu District, the route and hike to Nanbajie Hutong begins in basically the same way as the main walking routes leading to nearby Ox Street Mosque and the earlier mentioned Source of the Law Temple (Fayuan Si).
BlaBla - route.
The home is an ordinary type of Hutong dwelling and would almost be mistaken for yet another hutong dwelling if it were not for the obvious official plaquettes promoting the site as a state protected historical relic of the city.
Not existing in the early years of the millenium, a 10 year long construction spree has wiped out most of the Hutong in the Caishikou area which previously consisted of miles on miles of connecting Hutong alleys. In the new Caishikou newly developed highrising blocks dominate in Caishikou.
Satellite Image Map of Nanbajie Hutong; Lu Xun and Mao Zedong Residence at Caishikou and surrounding area of Beijing, by AsiaReport.com
Before or after exploring the many spaces and courtyards of the magnificent Source of the Law Temple nearby, perhaps it is an idea to grab some time to go for a stroll around the neighborhood hutong and see what is going on there. For sure, one will be off the main road and will find it a calm area with plenty of small and interesting street scenes and devout of the usual noise of the main boulevards.
Apart from the Lu Xun former home which he inhabited as a poor writer at the beginning of his Literary career and success, those interested will be happy to find that the (a) former home of one Mao Zedong (1893 AD - 1976 AD) just around the corner in the adjacent Hutong. Mao Zedong of course was an important and influential contemporary of Lu Xun, who came to Beijing for the first time in the same period as Lu Xun did himself (1918 AD). The former Mao Zedong Home in the Caishikou area, now dubbed Hunan Guild Hall stands in the next Hutong Alley to the west which is the Lanman Hutong a street which is so insignificant in the city of today that it would be hard to locate on any map if it were not for its famous inhabitant and his now enshrined living space.
Together, the Lu Xun and Mao Zedong former residences are the only residences of historic Beijing Celebrities still remaining in the Caishikou Area. As far as he China Report can tell the other such structures have been torn down in the city modernization drive which started as early as in 1998 and which took off in earnest in the years 2002 to 2004. Since then the entire neighborhood, a part of the oldest districts of the city of Beijing has changed its face as well as a lot of its original inhabitants. It is around Nanbajie Hutong and the Fayuan Temple and Monastery where one can still find some of the remains of the original life and athmosphere of Caishikou. As one will find described throughout these pages, the other such shards of old Caishikou are scattered around this location and include the neighborhood of Ox Street and its Mosque (although much of the Hutong containing the Hui Islamic Community around it were stripped) at an early stage. The nearby Baoguo Temple and Market, unmarked on any map (except ours) up the street from the Ox Street Mosque is another worthwhile place for a visit.
Caishikou of Xuanwu, Beijing:
As with the neighborhood of Caishikou itself, when browsing the internet it is hard to find any information on its history.
However, when exploring this part of the city it might be good to keep in mind that regardless of the modern facades that have mushroomed over the previous years, the district certainly does have a history, one that is in fact as rich as the tale of a 1000 nights.
That is to say, the Caishikou Area and
A new Caishikou community consists of modern apartment highrises stacked neatly together on the spaces previously taken up by quadrangle houses and hutong, some of which survived for a 1000 years. With prices of the new apartments too high for the original residents, these have been moved away to satellite cities of Beijing whereas the newly affluent were allowed to move into the new buildings, creating in effect a whole new population and therefo athmosphere in the Xuanwu District. Where previously everyone knew eachother by hutong and family todays housing blocks are usually guardded, fenced and closed to outsiders with the residents minding their own business rather than sharing experiences and lives.
To find reminders of the Glorious and rich feudal past in the Caishikou is to go look for details. Where previously mile after mile of Hutong followed eachother and history was to be found anywhere at any time, only sparse reminders have been left for the careful observer.
the Xuanwu District of Beijing might very well have featured in such a tale, for the hutong homes, quadrangle houses and humbler dwellings that existed before the shiny and spotless new highrises had stood among the first buildings of the city of Beijing the fallen (Northern) Song Dynasty Capital, after most of it was raised and burned by the Mongolian Armies in the year 1215 AD (Read more in: ”History of Beijing (1) Liao, Jin and Yuan Dynasties”.
Even as late as the years 2002 to 2004 there were stilll miles upon miles of original alleys, the so called Hutong, which were woven together in a squared matrix with unexpected narrow streets in between.
As the very word Hutong derives from the Mongolian word of Hottong meaning well, it is no exaggaration at all to say that the homes which stood in this area saw the very beginning of the city of Beijing, the city which remained nearly unchanged since it was built to be the greatest city on earth by the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1360 AD - 1424 AD).
Some of the history of the Caishikou Area goes back even further than a 1000 years, as one can for instance learn from the very existence of the today again popular Source of the Law Temple (Fayuan Si). As history tells us, this particular temple was founded for the first time in its current location during the years of the Tang Dynasty (618 AD - 907 AD). Although at the time the city of Chang ' An (now Xi'An in Shaanxi Province) was the Capital of the Chinese Empire, a city did exist in the far northern and exposed position today claimed by the city of Beijing. The city of the Tang Era was named Youzhou, but it also went by its more popular name of city of Yen (named after the Prince of Yen, an honorary title given to the defender of the locallity and fiefdom) and was a well defended military stronghold that had a vital role in the forward defense against recurring invasion from the various nomadic tribes in the
Although nothing, not a single stone remains standing of the city of Yen that once was in the 7Th and 8Th Century of the Tang Era city, the new Liao Capital included the same area leading to its further use and development as well as the continuance of the Fayuan Temple. At some point in this Era, the only standing stone Pagoda of Beijing today, the Temple of Heavenly Peace (Tianning Temple) was built nearby though outside the city walls and GuangAnMen Gate and NOT as part of the Caishikou Area). Today its ancient stone base built in the years of the Khitan Empire (aka Liao Dynasty) remains as the oldest stone structure to be found within the city sharing some of its history with adjacent Caishikou.
And so the long list of events that swept the very earth that is the Caishikou Area of Xuanwu District continues. Following the year 1125 AD, the Khitans were in turn deposed by their former tributaries the Jurchen, another tribe of Nomads who alike the Khitans previously established a new rapidly growing Empire and who claimed the city of Beijing as an important strategic location in the North China Plain bordering Mongolia and Manchuria. This period of Beijing history might go unmentioned in relation to the Caishikou area, if it had not been for the later rise of the Mongolians and their leader Genghis Khan.
As mentioned in the above introduction, the Caishikou District was entirely rebuilt after one of its many rounds of destruction, in case the year disastrous year 1215.
The Fayuan Temple was the prison of Emperor Qinzong of the Northern Song Dynasty who reigned from 1125 to 1127 when he was captured by troops of the Jurchen Jin Dynasty.
Caishikou or better Caishiku as a name is best explained as meaning the place where the Vegetable Warehouse (or storage facility) was located, marking the history of the neighborhood in relation to the world wonder Grand Canal of China. Although the first Grand Canal was built by the Sui Dynasty (581 AD - 618 AD) starting at the Yangtze River in South China, during the rule of the Yuan Dynasty Era (1271 AD - 1368 AD) it was extended for the first time to reach the then Mongolian Capital of China known as Khanbalik (City of the Khan). It was in this era, around the time of the visit of Marco Polo and during the rule of the Kublai Khan (Reign: 1260 AD - 1294 AD), that the Caishikou area aquired its current name becoming the location of a storage warehouse for vegetables which had been transported into the city via the Grand Canal.
The Canal was built to carry tribute to the Mongolians as well as to serve as a means of transportation and communication. In addition, it was also the only road through which to transport the goods and food stuffs needed to feed the Grand City in this otherwise quite infertile region in the north. Thus, by having a vegetable storehouse, the area also soon became the location of a number of vegetable markets which distributed the foods to the population, so - in due time - creating the current day translation of Caishikou as ”Gate to the Vegetable Market”.
Xie Fangde was an Southern Song Dynasty official and resistance leader fighting Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty. He was captured and taken to the Fayuan temple where he refused to surrender and starved himself to death.
During the Ming Dynasty Era (1368 AD - 1644 AD) the Caishikou Area Hutong, among things became the location where rope makers in the city were located and had their businesses. At the time, Caishikou lay outside of the City Wall proper and the people who lived and dwelled there were generally regarded as lower in rank and status then the privilidged ones who lived within the city walls, signifying a higher stratum of the social ladder.
Caishikou, public execution grounds in the ending years of the Qing Dynasty and during the early years of the Republic.
At the advent of the Qing Dynasty in the year 1644 AD, the Caishikou Area and its people saw another dramatic change overcome them. It was a social upheaval much alike the recent one in which, in this case, those serving the previously ruling Han of the Ming Dynasty - among them a considerable number of scholars, writers, literati and various artists - were forced out of the Walled City of the Emperor, thus swarming out and down to live in the only available alternative spaces within the city, which lay in the current day Xuanwu- and Chongwen Districts. As one can read in the tale of the BaoGuo Temple Market which is found at a few blocks distance from the Fayuan Temple and surrounding Hutong, the fallen servants of the disgraced Ming Emperor brought some of their considerable culture down into the district, soon recrreating the various aspects of life within the otherwise poverty stricken city parts. As a result of exclusive lifestyle of the Manchu invader conquerors, the Caishikou Area suddenly found itself populated with folks who would previously and otherwise have shunned the area. With their specific needs, and their capital came commerce and the appearance of, among things the Baoguo Market.
Subsequently, during its long years of existence under the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD), the Caishikou Hutong and area of Beijing were the home of many a famous and historically noted persona. To name but a few, Kang Youwei - Mishi Hutong across from the Caishikou Entrance to the Vegetable Market....
Xu Weizhen, Chen Yuanlong, Li Hongzao / Zeng Guopan, Zuo Zongtang, Xu Qianxue, Biyuan, Hong Liangji. Lu Xun and Mao Zedong.
In more modern times, during the Revolutionary Period and the rule of The Communist Party in Beijing the Caishikou area became the location of the first ever girls school founded in the city. This school still exists today as the Caishikou hutong school, although it is a question whether it will remain housed in a quadrangle house.
Later in 1956, after the rise of and rule of the Communist Party had already pushed any of China's ancient other religions beliefs to the fringes of society, the Chinese Buddhist Academy - an organ intended to regulate the Buddhist Church by the State - was founded at the nearby Fayuan Temple. The tmple itself had been renovated the previous year in 1955, so that it might serve its purpose as official Government front of a Buddhist Church United under Leadership of the Communist Party. At the same time, throughout the Nation monks were discouraged from continuing their lifestyle, Temples had been forced to close and many monks and principled believers had been labeled suspicious and in waves of Government repression were gradually sent to labor camps and other ∢ reform institutes∢.
north and west. That is, until it became the home base city of the An Lushan Rebellion, named after the
A bicyclist passes along Zhixin Lu in November 2002. In the background a block of torn down hutong has been hidden from view with a high metal fence. On the site where the hutong stood for a 1000 years new appartment blocks have arisen since. The Beijing's City Governement Plan to modernise the city and it's housing was already well underway in 2002, first removing the many Hutong along Xuanwu District's main boulevard's.
As one might expect from its name, Nanbajie Hutong has but an inconspicuous entrance on both ends and one only knows to be there when one has already reached it. Where once it was a common lane among many, today suddenly it has become an oddity among all the modern blocks and is indeed a place that draws passersby to have a look at it.
The southern entrance into Nanbajie is the easiest to navigate to and find. It lies along the most direct route to the Fayuan Si, Temple of the Source of the Law as well.
warring General of (semi-) nomadic blood who almost conqured the Tang Throne after declaring rebellion in the year 755 AD and, by so doing sealing the fate of the city of Yen.
Before all that happened, and the locality of Beijing fell outside of the grasp of any Chinese Empire for 100's of years, the Tang administrators built the Fayuan Temple, a Buddhist Temple and Monastery to serve the spiritual needs of the people of the district as well as its many outside visitors. The temple was first built in 645 AD during the Reign of Emperor Li Shimin (Emperor Taizong)(Reign: 626 AD - 649 AD) in a fairly stabile period of the Dynasty and around 100 years before the Great Rebellion and ensuing civil war (755 AD - 763 AD).
The An Lun Lushan uprising was but a starting point in the parade of events that would unfold in the districts around the Fayuan Temple there after. Next, an entirely new chapter began when, after the Tang had exhausted themselves in many years of Civil War, the city and Caishikou in it were taken and claimed by nomadic tribes descending once more in victory from the north.
As such, the city of Beijing became the Capital of the Khitan (or Liao) Empire (907 AD - 1125 AD) of North China, a powerful state established in Manchuria and North China.
Over the following two centuries, the Khitans made use of the Tang Dynasty city of Yen as the foundation for what was in effect mostly their symbolic Capital, while at the same time retaining many of their nomadic ways. With the Caishikou District already a part of the Tang Dynasty Era City, the Khitan Liao simply built their city around what had been there creating a new squared city in which current day Caishikou lay in the north eastern corner. Over the 200 years of their rule until their fall at the hands of the Southern Song and the Jurchen Tribes in Manchuria, built quite a lavish city with many Buddhist Temple around the Caishikou area, among them the Temple of Heavenly Peace (Tianning Si) which still stands today, at some kilometers distance, as the oldest surviving stone structure in the city of Beijing. Notably, the stone base of this standing Pagoda was constructed in the era of the rule of wild and supposedly barbaric Khitans.
Overview of the Caishikou Intersection extremely spacious Guang'AnMen Dajie' in November of 2002 when no subway/metro station had been built there yet. The main boulevard running East-West through the Xuanwu District is Guang An Men Dajie which used to lead up to the Gate of the same name now long gone.
Since then modern constructions have mushroomed along this main artery.
A Schematic Map of the Old City of Beijing in the Qing Dynasty - situation as until Summer of 1900 AD.
This Map includes Beijing Ming Dynasty City Walls surrounding Doncheng District and XiCheng District and enclosing the Imperial City.
Further: The Qing Dynasty City Wall additions surround The Xuanwu District and Chongwen District.
Last: Locations of (Former) City Gates, ancient Names of Gates and the Location of the City Moat and its Connection to the Grand Canal of the Ming Dynasty.
A typical poor man's quadrangle house gate of which 1000's could be found in the surrounding blocks awaits at the former address of Lu Xun in Caishikou. Good thing there is an offical stone plaquette provided by the city Government to serve as proof that this is the site and building. Obviously, even today it serves as the home of several people.
The official Government plaquette declaring the Lu Xun former residence a key protected site of the city. Regardless of its historical importance the quarters are in good use today. More confirmation of the authenticity of the address can be found on the wall right adjacent the gate. (Photo's November 2013).
Niu Jie' Mosque
At Ox Street (Niu Jie) a wide but not very conspicuous main street cutting North-South through the Xuanwu district , we find Ox Street Mosque, the main Temple of the Hui. The Hui are China's most ancient Islamic Minority and have a status as such. Browse around the interesting Mosque , the main prayer hall is reserved for Muslims only. Get the ethnic feeling of the Hui district by walking the hutong streets.
Don't forget the Hui Islamic Headquarters of China located just around the Corner to the South ! Combined with a visit to the Fayuansi , just East of Ox street hidden in the Hutong , a visit to Niu Jie can be a joyfull change from the usual Chinese crowds and neighborhoods.
Located due North of Niu Jie Mosque and FaYuan Si - Source of The Law Temple, Bao Guo Temple Fair is a nice detour. Enjoy browsing the Temples Flea-Market, then stroll through the surrounding Hutong. All just a Few Hundred Meters away from Busy Beijing's Inner City traffic. Bao Guo Temple is neither an astounding Architectural Feat, nor a very large Market offering 1000's of goods and items. It is however a charming getaway and close enough to other Landmarks of Interest.
Bao Guo Temple
Hui Minority of China Association National Headquarters
Very accurate and up to date Map of Beijing City Center , complete area of the Palace Museum (Forbidden City), Square of Heavenly Peace, Beihai (North Lake) Park, the South and Middle Lakes (Zhongnanhai) and area's of surrounding districts of Xicheng, Dongcheng, Chongwen and Xuanwu. Map detail includes names of alley's (Hutong) and even side alley's.
Map clearly marks the location of all Landmarks, Historic Monuments, hotspots and various sites of interest within the map area. Please browse the map and follow the links to additional information, maps and photo's of each location and site.