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Temple Fairs

The temple fair, also known as “temple market”, is one of the various kinds of markets in China, which already existed in Tang dynasty. The fair is usually held on festivals of the temples of fixed dates in temple or nearby, hence the name “temple fair”. Located at Nanxinhua Street, next to Liulichang, the temple fair is one with the longest history among the temple fairs began in the Ming and prospered in the Qing Dynasty and became bustling with noise and excitement in the Republic Period. On the first day of the Spring Festival, artists set up their stands at the fair to give performances. Vendors sold local snacks. Some people wrestled while others made dough figures. Some demonstrated folk customs. Some people shouted what things they sold, while other encored. It was a thriving scene.

From 1949, new contents such as dragon dance, lion dance, Yangko dance, walking on stilts, diabolo playing, and business negotiation were assed to the fair. Admissions to the biggest temple fair totaled more than 4 million people in 1963, and the fair held over 750 stalls. The fair stopped later, and resumed in 2001 at the original site. The temple fair is full of strong cultural features. It usually contains such activities as colorful costume procession march, ancient Beijing folk custom, old picture show, traditional ethnic folk handicrafts show, special-price books and odd goods on sale. The stunning things of the fair are: xylographic printing done by Rongbaozhai on the spot, cultural relic copies made by Jiguge, brushes made by Li Fushou, the skill of restoration of old books and paintings demonstrated by the China Book Store.

The Changdian Temple Fair is renowned for goods and playthings. The traditional snacks of time-honored brands are Tea & Soup Making Li, Pig Intestine Cooking Chen, Fried Bean Zhang, etc. The snacks for sale are: sugar coated how on sticks, fried cakes, rice cakes and so on. Also available are figure made of sugar, pinwheel, diabolo, opera masks, cloth tiger, lanterns and kites. Every year during the temple fair, streams of visitors elbow through crowds of people amid the thundering sound of gongs and drums, with colorful lanterns and banners shielding the sky, and the fragrant smell of food wafting in the air. What a modern version of “the Riverside Scene on the Day of Qingming”.

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