Unique Capital Culture: Beijing Xuannan Culture

The capital culture is a systematic concept, which is expressed concretely in Beijing imperial culture, hutong and siheyuan culture, Beijing catering culture and its assembly hall culture, and more. When considering Beijing’s culture, the Xuannan Culture should never be ignored. Xuannan is a general term used by people of the Ming and Qing dynasties, to refer to the area to the south of the Xuanwu Gate, and west of Qianmen Gate. And the unique cultural form here is called the “Xuannan Culture”.

Xuannan Culture is a key component and foundation for the Beijing Culture; it has its own charms, unlike those of other Beijing districts. People and their cultures from China’s various regions gathered in Xuannan; they engaged in exchanges and there was a great deal of cultural integration, giving the Xuannan Culture great influence among other regional cultures. Its influence expanded beyond its geographical limits, gaining enormous cultural space nationwide. A small regional area and big cultural influence are the unique cultural features of Xuannan, which continues to exert influence nationwide.

Exploring Xuannan will give you insights into the Xuannan Culture, drawing you into a more intimate relationship with Beijing’s development. People used to perform and watch juggling and other folk entertainment near Tianqiao; here there were assembly halls in which students, who came to Beijing to attend the Imperial Examinations, lived. Thereupon, some unique styles of culture in the southern part of the city were formed, such as Tianqiao folk culture, Dashila business culture, and Liulichang scholar culture. Gradually, all of them formed the Xuannan Cutlure, a unique geographical and cultural concept.

Lenovo Digital Still Camera

Although Xuannan does not have the palaces and pavilions found in the Forbidden City or it has few tranquil garden landscapes which are rich in the western suburbs, it is popular, refined and gorgeous. Early in the Ming and Qing dynasties was an important period for the formation of Beijing’s culture, when the inner city which centered on the Imperial City became a concentrated area for the imperial culture. Xuannan, situated in the outer city, gradually became a place exhibiting the scholar culture and popular culture. During Qing Emperor Qianlong’s reign, scholars from throughout the country gathered in Beijing, forming the “Xuannan Culture”, represented by the scholar culture initially. With the rise of Xuannan Culture, a variety of business and entertainment activities came into being. As a result, Dashila and Tianqiao and other areas became prosperous.

Beijing Tianqiao

Many assembly halls here, built by the officials from other provinces and merchants who lived in Beijing, used to receive many merchants and candidates for the Imperial Examinations. Meanwhile, cultures from other provinces with their distinctiveness were also introduced and integrated into this land.


As an important part of Beijing Culture, Xuannan Culture enjoys extensive popularity and diversity while changing with the times. Openness and innovation are the essence of the Xuannan Culture. If you want to know more about Xuannan Culture, you can go to Beijing Xuannan Culture Museum which is free of charge. The museum is inside the Changchun Temple, located at 9 Changchun Street, Xuanwu District. It will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 09:00am to 16:30pm, and closed on Monday.

Beijing Xuannan Culture Museum

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