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Chaozhou

Chaozhou (aka Chiu Chow,), also widely known by its Postal map spelling Teochew, is a city in eastern Guangdong Province, China. It borders Shantou to the south, Jieyang to the southwest, Meizhou to the northwest, the province of Fujian to the east, and the South China Sea to the southeast. It is administered as a prefecture-level city with a jurisdiction area of 3,614 square kilometers and a total population of 2,500,000.

History
In 214 B. C. , Chaozhou was an undeveloped and named part of Nanhai Commandery of the Qin Dynasty. In 331 during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 A. D.), Haiyang was established as a part of Dongguan Commandery.

Dongguan Commandery was renamed to Yi'an Commandery in 413. The commandery became a prefecture in 590 in the early Sui Dynasty; first as Xun Prefecture (Xunzhou), then as Chao Prefecture (Chaozhou) in the following year. In 1914, the Republic of China government combined Chao and Xun prefectures into Chaoxun Prefecture or Chaoxun Circuit.

For a short while in the Sui and early Tang Dynasties, Haiyang District was called Yi'an District. The name remained Haiyang until 1914, when it was renamed to Chao'an County to avoid ambiguity with the Haiyang County of Shandong Province.

The seat of the 1951 Guangdong People's Government was at Chao'an County, a part of it was created as Chao'an City in 1953 and later that year renamed to Chaozhou City (county-level). In 1955, the provincial seat moved to Shantou. Chaozhou City was abolished five years later, and reestablished again in 1979. In 1983, the situation was reversed, with Chao'an abolished and made a part of Chaozhou City. Chaozhou was made a provincially-administered city in January 1989, and a vice-prefecture-level city in January 1990. In December 1991, Chaozhou was further upgraded into its current statue of prefecture-level city.

Together, Chaozhou and the nearby cities of Shantou and Jieyang are called Chaoshan. The name was used for the joint political-administrative area which encompassed the three cities from 1958 until 1983. For the next five years, Shantou City was a higher-level city containing Chaozhou and Jieyang within it. Currently, Chaozhou, Shantou and Jieyang are equal in status.

Culture
Chaozhou is famously known as one of the great cultural centers in the Lingnan region (south of the Five Ridges) of China. Chaozhou culture is known worldwide as a unique part of world heritage. Down through history, the Chaozhou region, was able to flourish and thrive as a prosperous cultural centre enabling the nourishing of a unique and distinctive character epitomized in the Chaozhou Dialect, Chaozhou opera, Chaozhou cuisine, Chaozhou Ganghu tea, Chaozhou music, Chaozhou lion dance and Chaozhou embroidery.

Chaozhou Dialect (Chaozhou hua), by which the Chaozhou culture conveys, is considered as one of the oldest Chinese dialects for it preserves many elegant and refined features from ancient Chinese that have been lost in some of the other modern dialects of Chinese. It is spoken by about 10 million people in local Chaozhou and approximately 2-5 million overseas.

Chaozhou Opera is a traditional art form which has a history of more than 500 years and is now loved by 20 million Chaozhou natives in over 20 countries and regions. Based on the local folk dances and ballads, Chaozhou opera has formed its own style under the influence of Nanxi Opera. Nanxi is one of the oldest Chinese operas that originated in the Song Dynasty. Its tunes are graceful and pleasant, full of local color. The old form of choral accompaniment still remains its special features. Clowns and females are the most distinctive characters in a Chaozhou opera, and fan-playing and acrobatic skills are more prominent than in other types of performances.

Gongfu tea, the 'espresso' of Chinese teas with a formidable kick, which was first sipped back in the Song Dynasty, is still flourishing and remains an important part of social etiquette in Chaozhou. If you visit a family, you can be sure of at least one round of Ganghu tea. Though it tastes bitter when it first reaches your mouth, it is the lingering aftertaste that makes Ganghu tea probably the most charming tea culture in China. Drinking Ganghu tea is in fact a process of aesthetics rather than a solution to thirst.

At the local teahouse, tea service is often accompanied with Chaozhou music. String music, the gong and drum music, the ancient music of set flutes are the traditional play forms of Chaozhou music. Chaozhou string music is made up of mostly plucked and bowed string instruments, and on some occasions, wind instruments are used. The most characteristic instruments are the Rihin (or Erhin), Tihu and yahu (all two-stringed bowed lutes), the sanxian, pipa, ruan, guzheng, and yangqin. The number of instruments and performers in the ensemble is flexible and depends on the availability of instruments and musicians to play them - but to have an even and balanced texture only one of each instrument is preferred. Chaozhou drum music includes the big drum and gong, the small drum and gong, the dizi set drum and dong and su drum and gong ensembles. The current Chaozhou drum music is said to be similar to the form of the Drum and Wind Music of the Han and Tang Dynasties. The Chaozhou guzheng (guzheng: a kind of zither) is also regarded as a major member of the southern guzheng family.

Chaozhou Tourism
Chaozhou is a famous historical and cultural city in the country. The city's feature is known as "Classic Tourist City" which receives numerous tourists both from abroad and home. There are many valuable historic relics in Chaozhou city, totally about 600 units and among them 42 are classified as the state, provincial and city's key preservation units of cultural relics. The Chaozhou Dialect, Chaozhou opera, Chaozhou Ganghu tea, etc. have unique features of Chaozhou culture, attracting numerous tourists from home and abroad, and are the richly endowed tourist resources.

-Lighthouse of Buddha-The Lighthouse of Buddha (Chinese: Beige Fodeng) was used for boats in the Hanjiang river as this part of the river was dangerous. The lighthouse could remind people that they were in Chaozhou area and ought to be careful. It is said a former emperor once passed in his "dragon boat" while he was sleeping and was woken by the light from this Lighthouse. He thought it must have been a bodhisattva sending him the light and therefore named it the "lighthouse of Buddha".

-Guangzi Bridge, built in the Southern Song Dynasty (1170 A.D.).

Huang Jilue Temple, displaying the wood carving art of Chaozhou in the Qing Dynasty.

-The old site of Song Kiln, that shows the scale of production and the exquisite craftsmanship of ceramic in ancient Chaozhou.

-Jiadixiang, the ancient family houses.

-Kaiyuan Temple is a Buddhist center embodied with the quintessence of the architectural art of various dynasties such as the Tang, the Song, the Yuan and the Qing. This temple is over 200 years old. The temple is also home to the most influential Buddhism Study Institute in Southeast China. Inside, handsome calligraphy and inscribed steles remind visitors that this temple once functioned as the record keeper of the city.
Night scene of the People's Square.

-The Ming city wall, 2.6 kilometers long.

-Xu, Imperial Son-in-law, Mansion, which retains the basic pattern of the architecture of the Song Dynasty.

-Xi Hu Yuan, a museum in the main city park, has a unique collection unique of stones with natural geological markings representing (or resembling) Chinese characters.

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