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ORAL HISTORY
SUMMARY

Source: Moments, Moving Moments, by world-renown photographer CYJO. This project was created in collaboration with Dashila(b). It is a cultural documentary that portraits the stories, impressions, and memories of Dashilar. Through static and dynamic images, the documentary explores the rich history and unique characterization of Dashilar and melts them down to ten moments. Both individual and façade is extricated to showcase the historic and evolving identity of a hutong that encases over 600 years of history and resonates with you deep inside.

Cui Yong (Bookstore Owner, Born 1983 in Beijing,  Lives in Beijing

Six generations of my family have been living in hutongs and courtyards in the Dashilar area. However, this hutong tradition is disappearing due to new city planning. I felt deep pain from this and decided to devote my life to preservation of the traditional.

I opened a literature bookstore named Zheng Yang Bookstore in Lang Fang Er Tiao Hutong in 2009. In the beginning, my neighbors could not understand why I was doing that, because it did not make any profit.

Later on, when XuanWu District and ChongWen District got merged into DongCheng and XiCheng districts, my collections of those two old districts began to have historic value and my persistence paid off.

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Duan Baoxi(Retired local craftsman, Born 1948 in Shaanxi Province, Moved to Beijing in 1997, Lives at Baiheyuan Hutong)

I had a variety of odd jobs and had numerous hobbies. Before I worked in the factory during the Cultural Revolution, I ran a traditional Chinese outpatient clinic for 5 years. This clinic was run by four generations of my family who has practiced traditional Chinese medicine in orthopedics. Although I don’t practice this professionally now, I made sure that my children learn the core of the practice so that they can practice it when needed and pass it down to their future generation.

When I was working at a factory during the Cultural Revolution, I worked in different areas wherever I was needed.

I worked as a carpenter, bricklayer, painter, blacksmith, and landscape gardener at various points in time.

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Ji Yan (Art Teacher, Born 1982 in Beijing, Lives in Beijing)

I have been working as an art teacher for 6 years so far at a school located near Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant.

Being born and raised in a hutong, I have natural attachments to the details of this neighborhood. I lived in Dashilar from the age of 20 to 30. At first, I was surprised to see so many foreigners, but now I’ve gotten used to it and say hello to them.

I feel that Beijing is becoming more international, but when you sit in a Siheyuan (traditional Beijing courtyard residence), you can feel Beijing’s traditional breeze and experience an inviting and open living environment.

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Liu Xinran (Peking Opera Singer, Nandan, Born 1978 in Beijing, Now lives in Beijing)

Peking Opera is China’s cultural treasure with a history of 222 years since its inception. It is an integration of various kinds of Chinese opera from different regions in this country. In 1790, Anhui Opera troupes visited Beijing to perform for Emperor Qianlong for his 80th birthday, marking the beginning of Peking Opera.

I first came into contact with Peking Opera when I was in elementary school. I studied voice when I was young but didn’t gain a deep understanding of Peking Opera until I was in the workforce. Once I went to KTV with my friends, some of them suggested that I should listen to Peking Opera, because Peking Opera’s voices towards breathe are very strict.

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Li Youming (Chuar Booth Owner, Born 1967 in Inner Mongolia, Moved to Beijing in 2006, Lives in Beijing)

I worked in Hebei province before moving to Beijing in 2006 and was introduced to this city through a relative. Since I had experience working with meat in Inner Mongolia, I decided to move here and try to start a meat business.

I came to Beijing and first worked as a meat retailer. Later I found there was a good market for chuar (grilled meat on a skewer) here. And there were only a few chuar places that used pure, fresh lamb.

I didn’t intend to have a chuar business at first. One day, my wife and I prepared chuar outside on our barbeque for us to enjoy. Some people passing by noticed the tasty food and asked if we can sell our chuar to them.

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Ma Yanbing (Imam, Born 1970 in Shanxi Province, Lives in Beijing)

I work in Qianmen, at the Qingzhensi (mosque) as an Imam. I came to this mosque in 2011. I used to work in the area of Niujie, in another mosque a couple of blocks away from here.

With a history of 580 years, Qianmen Qingzhensi was built during the Ming dynasty. The mosque then survived through the expansion and changes brought about in the Qing dynasty. Then during the early years of Republic of China, the mosque went through a complete renovation. The most recent changes occurred in 2009, when the mosque went through an entire renovation.

It was not written in history who originally designed the mosque. Some say that is was a general who lived in the Ming dynasty. The general was Muslim.

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Qin Lanqing (Second-generation Animal Trainer, Born 1976 in Beijing, Lives in Beijing)

China has 8,000 years of history and 5,000 years of civilization. Animal training has a history of around 3,000 years starting from Song dynasty.

There are so many other professions to choose from, but this is what I must do. As one of the few dedicated and passionate animal trainers, this is my obligation and responsibility to preserve and develop animal training knowledge and to pass down to others.

The Chinese culture is focused on the philosophy of Taoism and less on the rule of law. Although China doesn’t have an animal welfare policy or law, the Chinese still have a cultural understanding of the importance of animal welfare.

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Wen Yuzhen (Grandmother, Former Childcare Worker and Education Bureau Administrator, Born 1935 in Beijing, Grew up and lives in Beijing)

I have never moved away from Dashilar. I was born here, went to school here and then worked here. I started working in 1954 as a child-care worker in a kindergarten and then worked in the logistics section in the Education Bureau of Xuanwu District.


Before, many kids didn’t have a chance to get formal education. Now, most kids in cities like Beijing can go to school, and the quality of education has improved tremendously. Before, you could become a teacher with a high school diploma. But now, you need a bachelors or masters degree.

There are also many changes in the infrastructure in this area. While I was growing up, this area was pretty desolate with almost no buildings except for some major ones in Tiananmen Square. Now, there are so many buildings around and the street looks tidy and nice.

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Xie Xiaoying (Landscape Architect, Born 1964 in Beijing, Lives in Beijing)

As I have been living in Ban Qiao Hutong since I was born, I developed a thorough knowledge and emotional attachment to hutongs. I have travelled to many places in China since I was little, and I’m especially amazed by gardens in Suzhou and Hangzhou. My visits to these gardens incited my interest in landscape architecture.

After finishing my studies abroad in Amsterdam in 1994, I came back to China, only to find out that there were not many opportunities for landscape architects.

It was difficult to find job in the industry because it was not valued at that time by the public. I started working in the architecture industry since 2000, mainly with real estate companies. Since 2006, I began designing public areas, such as parks, streets, etc.

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Yang Duojie (Crosstalk Performer/Writer, Born 1988 in Beijing, Lives in Beijing)

I grew up in the Dashilar area and moved out later, but every now and then I would come back and perform in a teahouse. Crosstalk, or xiangsheng is a traditional Chinese comedic performance in the form of dialogue.

When I was 6 years old, a group of people came to my school and selected some students (including me) to read passages from a book. Having perhaps noticed a gift in us, they asked us if we wanted to practice xiangsheng.

My mom thought it was better for me to practice xiangsheng rather than just mess around, so I started learning in 1994. I performed in Beijing District Young Comedian Troupe. We didn’t have to pay to be a part of it, and could even earn money occasionally. We also performed a series of comedic skits on TV.

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