Excellent and unique ecological environment has created favorable conditions for the growth and evolvement of Bashu civilization. Sichuan is one of the important origins of the Chinese civilization, well-known for its remarkable and unique inner elements and characteristics.
Sichuan boosts profound origins of civilization. Sichuan’s civilization presented itself as theocratic civilization in the Xia and Shang Dynasty, which was replaced by Liyue civilization (ritual-music civilization) in the Western Zhou Dynasty till the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. After the unification of China by the Qin, the Bashu civilization came to appear as an important branch of regional subculture among the Qin and Han cultures. It became the cradle for the Chinese Taoism in the Han and Wei Dynasty. Later literature thrived in the Sui and Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties period, and there were also remarkable achievements in Buddhism. In the Song Dynasty, the economy and culture prospered here, where Jiaozi, the earliest paper currency in the world emerged. In Bashu history, technology was once highly developed. The water conservancy project in Dujiangyan, planting techniques, well salt techniques, bronze metallurgical techniques as well as astronomy, mathematics and medical studies were all demonstrations of its developed science and technology.
Local features are prominent in Sichuan, where Bashu regional sub-culture prevails, independent from other cultures. Sichuan’s language culture, opera culture, tea and wine drinking culture, food culture, silk and brocade culture, and salt culture have strong local flavor. For example, such cultural brands as Sichuan dialect, Sichuan opera, Sichuan tea, Sichuan wines, Sichuan cuisine, Sichuan medicine, Sichuan embroidery, Sichuan brocade and Sichuan bonsai all carry intense local features.
There are an abundance of cultural treasures in Sichuan. Long history and rich culture have bestowed Sichuan a full array of precious and rare cultural heritage of refined taste. Sichuan boosts 5 world heritage sites, 62 national key protected sites of cultural relics and 7 China’s historic and cultural cities, together with 24 provincial historic and cultural cities, 22 provincial historic and cultural towns and 200 plus cultural scenic spots. The Leshan Buddha in Mt. E’mei is designated as both world natural heritage and cultural heritage, while Mt. Qingcheng in Dujiangyan is approved as world cultural heritage. Elsewhere, at Guanghan Sanxingdui ruins and Chengdu Jinsha ruins a large number of gold, bronze, jade and pottery artifacts were unearthed. Among them, the “sun-bird” that was unearthed at the Jinsha ruins and symbolizes brightness, solidarity, endeavor, harmony and forbearance was ratified by the State Cultural Relics Bureau as the sign of “China’s cultural heritage”.
Sichuan cuisine ranks among the top three styles of cuisine in China. Wuliangye and other Sichuan wines are listed as selected drinks at state banquets. Such famous tea as Zhuyeqing, Mengding Tea and E’mei Maofeng has earned nation-wide reputation.
Sichuan accommodates diversified cultures. Though unavoidably Sichuan culture is colored with the closeness and staticness of agricultural civilization, its openness for outward exploration is rather obvious. Apart from the indigenous Bashu culture and Tibetan culture in the west part, once outside of the Sichuan Basin, the indigenous cultures are intertwined with the Chu culture, Qinlong culture, Dian culture, Yelang culture and Tibet-Yi ethnic culture. Economy and culture from all parts of the country exchange with and permeate into each other, thus forming the distinct characteristics of cultural diversification and openness. In addition, festival cultures and cuisines from Western countries have also been absorbed into the indigenous culture since the opening-up and reform. (Data provided by Sichuan Yearbook Press. See the Sichuan Yearbook 2008 for details.)