Yisa Town in Honghe County in southeast Yunnan Province is famous for the Dongmen ancient building complex which features an integration of Roman Columns, European decorative elements and the indigenous architecture styles. The formation of the complex is related to the local caravans.
In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), Yisa people began to do business abroad. Every year, there were hundreds of Yisa caravans going abroad for business and they opened trade routes to Myanmar and Thailand.
Traveling abroad, caravans brought back not only goods, but also alien cultures. They applied French and Chinese elements into building local architectures, forming a new style of which the Dongmen ancient building complex, covering a total area of 9,900 square meters, is an epitome.
Today, the caravan culture remains alive in some ways in the Yisa Town. “I am the 16th generation of a caravan trader. My ancestors came to Yunnan from Guangdong 400 years ago. They first started business in Xishuangbanna, then went to Hekou trading with Vietnamese, and finally came to Honghe,” said Yang Chaowei, a 48-year-old resident in Yisa.
Yang started his collection about the caravan culture in 2008, and has got more than 160 items so far. As an employee of a local electric power company, Yang introduces history of caravan to tourists in his spare time. As the number of his collections increases, more and more people come to visit, or look for their family roots. (Guan Xiruyi)