Dali


Dali
/dah"lee/, n.
Salvador /sal"veuh dawr'/; Sp. /sahl'vah dhawrdd"/, 1904-89, Spanish painter and illustrator.

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China
Wade-Giles romanization  Ta-li , formerly  Xiaguan 

      city, western Yunnan sheng (province), southwestern China. It is situated at the southern end of Lake Er (Er, Lake) in a fertile basin about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of the historical town of Dali. The city has traditionally been an important centre on the routes westward from Kunming (the provincial capital) to the Tibet Autonomous Region and northern Myanmar (Burma); Dali also has routes leading south into the wild southwestern region of Yunnan. It was established as a city in 1983 through the merger of Dali county (containing the town of historical Dali) with the city of Xiaguan. Xiaguan is now a district of Dali city, and historical Dali is administered as a town under the newer city.

      Xiaguan was first known to the Chinese in the mid-8th century as Longweicheng; at that time it was built by Poluoge, king of the Nanzhao kingdom located in the area. After the occupation of the region by the Mongols in the late 13th century, it became a customs station and tax office, known variously as Longweiguan, Huweiguan, or Xiaguan. It grew into an important market town for local produce and was a centre of trade between Chinese merchants and the various minority peoples living in the surrounding mountain districts. Its trade in the 19th century was largely founded on tea produced in the vicinity. It was also a tea market second only to Pu'er in Yunnan, and tea processing became an important industry in the early years of the 20th century. Its prosperity increased still further with the construction of the Burma Road during the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), and its commercial role subsequently grew until it had become the chief collection and distribution centre in western Yunnan.

      The contemporary city has remained a collecting point for cotton, tea, grain, sugar, pears, walnuts, and ham, as well as for fish from Lake Er; these products are mainly for shipment to Kunming. After 1949 the city experienced some industrial development, including grain milling, oil extraction, and tea curing. It also had some light engineering industries, such as the production of farm tools. Since the beginning of the 1980s, Dali has enhanced its economic status and become an economic and communication centre of western Yunnan. Newer industries include power generating, papermaking, cement manufacturing, marble processing and polishing, cigarette making, and food processing. The Yunnan-Tibet highway and the Kunming-Wanding highway (on the Sino-Myanmar border) cross there. In addition, a branch rail line from Dali to Kunming has been completed. A regional airport, which began service in the mid-1990s, now has regular flights to several Chinese cities.

      Tourism has become a mainstay of the city's economy. The national government has designated Dali as one of China's historical and cultural cities as well as a national-level scenic resort. The city is also an access point to the province's rugged western region, including the gorges of the three major rivers—the Yangtze, the Irrawaddy, and the Salween—flowing through northwestern Yunnan (areas of which were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003). Pop. (2002 est.) 195,846.

▪ anthropological and archaeological site, China
 site of paleoanthropological excavations near Jiefang village in Dali district, Shaanxi (Shensi) (Shensi) province, China, best known for the 1978 discovery of a well-preserved cranium that is about 200,000 years old. It resembles that of Homo erectus in having prominent browridges, a receding forehead, a ridge along the rear of the skull, and thick cranial walls. Its cranial capacity is 1,120 cc (68 cubic inches), which is intermediate between H. erectus and H. sapiens (Homo sapiens). The facial bones are distorted, but its true morphology was undoubtedly flatter and smaller than is characteristic of H. erectus and other archaic varieties of early humans (genus Homo), including Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis). Because of its combination of primitive and modern features, it is difficult to classify. Originally called H. sapiens daliensis, it was argued to have been part of a continuous evolutionary line from H. erectus to modern populations of Asia. Another possibility is that the Dali cranium belongs to H. heidelbergensis (Homo heidelbergensis) or a late form of H. erectus that evolved traits like those of H. sapiens.

Henry McHenry IV
 

▪ historical town, China

      historical town, west-central Yunnan sheng (province), southwestern China. It is situated in a fertile basin on the west side of Lake Er (Er, Lake); since 1983 historical Dali has been administered as a town under the city also called Dali (formerly Xiaguan), which lies 10 miles (16 km) southeast of the original Dali, at the southern tip of the lake.

      Dali was the traditional political and commercial centre of Yunnan, being located on the major trade route to Myanmar (Burma) and northern India. The area, which was known to the Chinese under the name Kunming, was originally occupied by local tribes and from the 1st century BCE onward was the site of an outpost of the Chinese government. In the 6th century the Chinese lost what little control they had had in the area. After 738 a powerful state, Nanzhao, emerged in Yunnan and established a city there called Dali. In the early 9th century this became the capital of the Nanzhao state and subsequently (937) of the Dali kingdom, which succeeded the state in its control of Yunnan. A successor state, Houli, lasted from 1094 until the Yuan (Yuan dynasty) (Mongol) conquest of the area in 1253.

      The Mongols, however, transferred the political capital of their new province of Yunnan to Kunming, farther to the east. Much of the town was rebuilt during the early Ming dynasty (1368–1644), beginning about 1382. However, by the mid-20th century Dali had lost its commercial importance to Xiaguan (renamed Dali in 1983) and, prior to its incorporation into the latter entity, had declined to minor importance. Its many historical and cultural sites have transformed historical Dali into a major tourist destination.

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Universalium. 2010.

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