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World Cultural Heritage

Laosicheng, as the largest, earliest and best-preserved ancient Tusi city in China, succeeded in applying for World Cultural Heritage on July 4.

Located by the riverside of Lingxi River in the east of Yongshun County, Laosicheng was the Tusi Peng’s administration area of Ancient Xizhou, and the political, economic, cultural and military center for southwestern ethnic minorities during Tusi Period from the 13th to the early 20th century. It covered 818 years through the period of Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties with 28 royal houses and 35 feudal provincial or prefectural governors.

The site of Laosicheng consists of three areas including residential area, government office and living quarters for chieftains, as well as eight streets, namely, He (River) Street, Zuo (Left) Street, You (Right) Street, Zheng (Middle) Street, Banpo Street, Wutun Street, Yuedu Steet and Dongmen (East Gate) Street. Decorated with neat patterns of red-brown pebbles, the streets are classic and elegant with earthy style and profound Tujia features.

Tusi sites, which offer a glimpse into the ancient chieftain system that governed ethnic minorities in southwest China for eight centuries, have entered UNESCO's world heritage list.

Three Tusi sites -- the ruins of Hailongtun castle in Guizhou Province; the Tangya Tusi city in Hubei Province; and the Yongshun old Tusi city in Hunan Province -- were added to the World Cultural Heritage List on Saturday afternoon (Beijing time) during the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany.

Tusi was a tribal leader appointed as an imperial official by the central government in ancient China. The Tusi system was a political system adopted by feudal Chinese emperors to govern ethnic minority regions.

"The three sites are in areas where different ethnic groups and cultures coexisted," said Fu Jing, an expert with the China Architecture Design and Research Group. "They show the diversified culture and history of ancient China."

Yongshun Tusi city in central Hunan Province has a history dating back more than 600 years. Lying on the bank of a river, it has a temple, ancestral house, cemeteries and a memorial archway. Even its complicated sewage network still works.

Lots of Tujia (a local ethnic group) in Yongshun flocked to the streets on Saturday afternoon wearing their traditional attire to celebrate the inscription.

Experts said the Yongshun old Tusi city can provide important evidence for research on Tujia culture, and relations between the ancient central government and the local minority groups.

Zhu Changxiang, 74, a resident of the village where Yongshun old Tusi city is located, told Xinhua that she was proud of her hometown. The inscription of Tusi sites will help expose the world to the Tujia, she said.

"The Tusi system helped to unify the administration, as the Tusi could keep their army and sovereignty if they submitted themselves to the rule of the emperor," said Li Ping, deputy director of Tujia-Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Xiangxi, Hunan Province, which administrates Yongshun.

Luo Weiqing, from Jishou University in Xiangxi, said the Tusi system was a model for preserving cultural diversity in a unified multi-ethnic country.

To better protect the old Tusi city and let more people understand the local culture, the local government is building a park and museum, which will open in September.

According to Lei Jiasen, associate researcher with the heritage site of Yongshun Tusi city, the museum cost more than 80 million yuan and covers 5,450 square meters. It will replace the temporary exhibition hall, which featured more than 2,000cultural relics.

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