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300 Years of Migrant History - Huguang Guild Hall | Chongqing Travel Guide

By XIAO WUXINGCHEN YUEICHONGQING|Apr 18,2020

Chongqing – 300 years ago, a series of disasters left the vast lands of Sichuan province wasted, sparking a large migration movement from the surrounding provinces to rebuild the area. Follow us as we take you on a journey through 300 years of migration history at the Huguang Guild Hall in Chongqing.

Background and History

Over 300 years ago, at the end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, a series of disasters, including War, Epidemics, and Famine, left the vast land of Sichuan Province to waste. The population in the area hit rock bottom, and only 5-600 thousand people were left in the whole region. To restore the economy and bring Sichuan back from the brink, supported by the imperial court, a collection of favorable policies were enacted to encourage people from other provinces to move to Sichuan in what we today know as the Huguang Repopulation of Sichuan Migration Movement.

Many of the Migrants who embarked on the journey to Sichuan, did so hoping for a fresh start and a new fruitful life ahead. But the journey to Sichuan was no easy one, and the museum’s exhibition shows us the hardships they had to endure on their way here. There were two main paths that the migrants coming to Chongqing would take. One over the land, and one coming from the river. The migration lasted for 130 years, and it is estimated that 30 million people from other provinces moved here to settle on the land.

When the early Migrants arrived, they chose their land by themselves and often settled on farmland to cultivate. As time went by, more and more people came, and gradually, the government started issuing the land grants. The new farmers brought with them the developed cultivation techniques and new crops to diversify the area. Early maturing rice, corn, sweet potatoes, and peppers. But not all the new Migrants were farmers, soon business also started to flourish.

 The migrants carried out a thousand-mile long journey to arrive where we stand today. They created an abundance of wealth in a barren land and established a rich cultural center. Among the many heritages left by the migrants, perhaps the most influential is the local dialects and the food, inspired in part by the many provinces from which the migrants originally came.

Main Attractions

Huguang Guild Hall, as we know it today, actually comprises three main sections – the Huguang Hall, Guangdong Administrative Office, and Qi’an Administrative Office. The Museum next to the Huguang Hall is a 

Museum

Take a walk around the Museum in Huguang Guild Hall, you can get a glimpse into the full story of the migration movement. 

Huguang Guild Hall

A guildhall, like a town hall, is a building historically used for meetings and social gatherings. Guilds of the time were like an association of craftsmen or merchants, who, together, oversee the practice of their trades in respective areas. So guild halls were built to protect the best interests of its members. During the Huguang repopulates Sichuan migration movement, business groups from various provinces came and established many guild halls all over the city of Chongqing. The Huguang Guild Hall is the one that remains today. It is built nearly 300 years ago by the migrants from Huguang. The provincial domain of “Huguang” during the migration movement was roughly equivalent to today’s Hubei, Hunan, Guangxi, Guangdong, and part of the Yunnan-Guizhou area in China. It was people from these regions that the Huguang Guild Hall served. The hall’s overall construction area takes up 7,653 square meters.

Walking around the guildhall, you can picture how people 300 years ago gathered and interacted here. The opera stages were centers for entertainment. Meeting rooms were for hot discussion. The attractive, historical architecture and environment make it a perfect location to visit.

The Dayu Palace 

The Dayu statue in the palace was forged entirely in copper. Dayu was a hero four thousand years ago, who dedicated himself to flood control over a period of thirteen years. During that time, he was so busy that he went by his house three times but not entered into it. He worked tirelessly to alleviate disasters for people. His spirit has been venerated by generations ever since.

Ancient Chinese Rituals

 If you are lucky, you can also experience an ancient Chinese ritual ceremony here. Each year, a series of ancient ceremonies are often held in Huguang Guild Hall, including Yu Wang Temple Fair during the Spring Festival, “Yu Wang Sacrificial Ceremony” over the Qingming Festival, and the “Migration Culture Festival” on National Day.

Address: No. 1 Bajiaoyuan, Changbin Road, Yuzhong District, Chongqing, China.

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