Qibao Shadow Play

In the Shanghai Province, the small town of Qibao was built during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.), an era of great artistic and cultural enrichment.  Flourishing during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) Dynasties, Qibao has been known as a cultural center for business, merchants, and scholars since ancient times. The two waterways that dissect the village were originally meant for commercial purposes and served to connect Qibao with other water-towns and villages.  The waterways still serve commercial purposes to an extent, but modern technology allows businesses to run through roadways and other forms of transportation.  Surrounding Qibao’s waterways are a myriad of well-preserved ancient houses, shops, and restaurants.

Qibao literally means “Seven Treasures.” There are various theories revolving around how the town name was derived. One speculation is that Qibao originated from the reputable Qibao Temple, which greatly contributed to the rise of business and culture within the town. However, a second theory is more popular with locals who tell folk tales about Seven Treasures.

As the legend of the Seven Treasures goes, there were once seven treasures that were highly valued by those who lived in the village.  These treasures are believed to be a gold lotus scripture, a magic tree, a bronze bell, an iron buddha, a golden rooster, a jade hatchet, and a pair of jade chopsticks. Only the scripture and the bell, still exist today.  The scripture is located within the Qibao Temple and the bronze bell is on display in the town’s Bell Tower.