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It's curtains for Lianzi Ku Hutong

07-28-2010 07:57 BJT

BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Summer means not just more heat but more flies. This has long been a concern not just of the laobaixing of Beijing, but also the emperors. Such a concern, in fact, that there was an entire hutong dedicated to the supply of curtains to the Forbidden City, to prevent it from getting too flyblown.

No-fly zone: street life on Lianzi Ku Hutong. (Photo: Global Times)
No-fly zone: street life on Lianzi Ku Hutong. (Photo: Global Times)

There were other lanes with similar names in the city, with several in the east part of Xuanwumennei Dajie in Xicheng district named lianzi (lotus seed), for example, because they were near a river where seeds were harvested back in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368).

Later, during the Ming Dynasty around 1400, the city walls were extended further south, damming the river and creating a large stagnant pond. The beautiful lotus flowers were rapidly replaced by a decidedly less-attractive cloud of flies. Curtains were soon in hot demand for houses near the former river, leading to the lane being named Lianzi Ku (curtain warehouse).

Located south of Di'anmendong Dajie, the hutong is not easy to find, being surrounded by the rubble of recent demolition work. But it was here that the curtains were restored, including those made from two-year-old bamboo from southern China.

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