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Shuyuanmen Ancient Cultural Street


For expats or those who are visiting Xi’an and looking for a unique gift, Shu Yuan Men is the place to find it. Affectionately known as Old Street- is located near the South gate (Nan Men) inside the Wall of the city. Wander through a street of painters within Ming and Qing Dynasty Architecture. Its old stone slab streets lead to small alleys and courtyards filled with everything from calligraphy to sculpture. This is a place that you will want to stay and spend some time and the Bell and Drum towers and the Muslim Quarter are a walk or short taxi ride away.

Shuyuanmen is the first cultural street modeled after the antique style in Xi'an
Located on the eastern side of the southern gate of Xi'an, the 200-m street is in the architectural style of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The street is paved with blue stone tablets; shops on the two sides are antique and elegant in style, in which four treasures of the study, metal and stone carvings, callligraphy, paintings, jade carvings and curiosities are available. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the area nearby Guanzhong Academy (of classical learning) was the cultural center of Xi'an. Guanzhong Academy is located on the street, on the relics of which Xi'an Normal Institute is was built up. The street has now become a tourist spot with a cultural atiosphere, including shopping, dinning, recreation and sighseeing. you may taste the true life of people in Xian and find the remains of an ever-refulgent dynasty.

After visiting the Bell Tower, walk along the South Avenue until you see a traditional archway on the east side of the road. That is Shuyuan Gate. Through the archway on which 'Shuyuan Gate' is carved,The Xi’an Forest of Stelae at Shu Yuan Men contains tablets bearing copies of the Analects, Mencius and the Dictionary of Terms - a haven for those who have a philosophical bent.  a green flagstone street extends, and you can see the 2-storey stores in ancient style along both sides and smell the aroma of Chinese ink. Most storekeepers, sitting leisurely in their stores, holding a little teapot or two small jade balls in their hands, never hustle. These stores deal mostly in the four treasures of study; curios, jade articles, gold and silver ornaments, calligraphies and paintings of celebrities, copybooks and handcrafted keepsakes. There are authentic works by some celebrated artists, but you can always try bargaining for the one you want. You can find here paintings by Liu Wenxi, a Xian artist who drew the images on the RMB 100 note. Shadow play figures, paper-cuts and face painting in the ancient style are typical folk handcrafts of Shaanxi Province that are colorful and appealing to tourists. Shadow play figures are made of animal skin, and were used for shadow play shows in ancient times. The technique of making it is so difficult that now fewer and fewer figures of shadow-play are for sale. The facial makeup painted by Zhang Xuanwu, a folk artist of Shaanxi Province, are favored among tourists. Zhang Xuanwu stated that he could paint more than 350 different faces, handed down from his ancestors.

Stalls outside the 2-storey stores are equally attractive. Along the street, Xun (an ancient egg-shaped wind instrument with eight holes) and jade articles are commonly seen. Walking in the area of Shuyuan Gate, you may hear the sounds of the Xun and the bamboo flute played by storekeepers now and again to drum up trade, which is not quite a melody but more the symbol of Xian. Jade articles here are mostly from Lantian County of Xian, which is famous for the quality of jade from ancient China. If you are lucky enough, you will see the old folk artist giving a traditional Chinese painting or calligraphy presentation in front of the site of Guanzhong Shuyuan. Such fascinating work, perhaps you cannot help but buy one. At the east of the end of Shuyuan Gate is the famous Forest of Stone Steles Museum .

Many local people, including amateurs and artists look for things they want here.

The condition is comfortable and tidy.

Four treasures of study (writing brush, ink stick, silk paper and ink stone);
Rubbings of calligraphy and paiting from the Forest of Stone Stele;
Shaddows of shaddow play (made of donkey skin or bull skin, totally handmade);
Xun (the oldest instrument, decovered from Banbo Village, yes, 6000 years ago)
Paper cut;
and other folk arts.

Nowadays, Shuyuan Gate has become a site with a strong cultural flavor.Spending the day seeking out hidden treasures and making a cultural connection whether you are here as a tourist or an expat is something that will make Xi’an home to you for however long you are here.


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