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Underwater but it's not forgotten (2)

By Wang Zhenghua in Jiangjiazhen, Zhejiang (China Daily)

09:01, May 10, 2012

It also features a 2.57-km-long and 2-meter-wide city wall, which appears to be almost intact, based on recent underwater exploration.

Tian Dongmen, a 75-year-old former resident of Lion City and lacquer painter, says the old community was full of exquisite carvings and smart designs. Some rich households boasted decorative elements that are no longer seen.

For instance, guardian lions here are distinct from those traditionally placed in front of imperial palaces, imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials, in that one of their paws is placed on a rotating ball.

"These are the masterpieces of our ancestors," Tian says.

Apart from the tangible relics, the ancient city also had distinctive folk customs, such as the lantern strings parade, or baizideng, during Lantern Festival. Dozens of small red lanterns were threaded on 3-meter bamboo poles, because residents believed that lighting them would bring offspring and good fortune.

Wang Yongming, a local culture scholar, says the government should assign researchers and interview former residents about the city's culture.

The government has already spent more than 28 million yuan ($4.45 million) on the Lion City Museum, which opened in 2011.

Featuring the traditional black-and-white Hui-style architecture, the miniature Lion City is based on historical documents, photographs, sonar exploration and interviews of former residents.

It also boasts an ancient map of the town and more than 800 photographs of its buildings and people.

A video explains the town's history to visitors.

"We want our descendants to know that our ancestors were brave and diligent, and it was a time when merchants didn't give short measures," Tian says.

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