Chinatown, Lima

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Gates at the entrance of Chinatown, Lima

The Chinatown in Lima, locally known as Barrio chino, is centered on two blocks -the seventh and eighth- of Jirón Ucayali in downtown, a stretch almost universally referred to as Calle Capón, a name acquired during the Spanish Colonial period as it was the location of the market for castrated pigs.

Origins[edit]

In the 1850s Chinese immigrants started to cluster in the area around the Central Market, then called La Concepción. The consolidation of an ethnic Chinese neighborhood was spurred by the presence, from the 1860s, of large commercial houses established by Chinese import companies from Hong Kong and California, such as the Wing Fat Co., the Wo Chong Co., or the Wing On Chong Co.[1] Within a short time Chinese immigrants had established a number of Benevolent Societies and temples, often according to place of origin. For example, the Ku Kong Chao Association was established in 1868 by immigrants from rural Guangdong, the Pun Yui Society by Cantonese immigrants in 1887, and the Tungshin Society in 1898 by Hakka immigrants.[2][3] The Chinese Central Benevolent Society, or Tonghui Chongkoc, was formed in 1882 to provide members with legal counseling, burial insurance, and the establishment of a Chinese school.[4]

Decline[edit]

Like the rest of Lima, Chinatown -not yet known to Limeños as the barrio chino- suffered destruction and looting by invading Chilean military forces during the War of the Pacific. This left the quarter in economic disarray, of which but a handful of large enterprises were able to survive. As the neighborhood's fortune's declined, it became the target of critiques by the Lima elites intent on cleaning up the city and of mobs incited by political candidates and racist stereotypes. In 1909 the government demolished part of the quarter, and the neighborhood was again attacked during the labor riots of 1918.[5]

The face of the neighborhood also changed as result of a several-decade ban on Chinese immigration, resulting in increasing intermarriage with Peruvians of non-Chinese descent and integration into the general society,[6] coupled with an increase in migrants from the country's Andean highlands moving into Lima's downtown.

Renaissance[edit]

The walking mall at the Chinatown.

In the 20th Century Chinatown had shrunk but nevertheless maintained a distinct ethnic character. In 1971 an archway, a gift from the people of Taiwan, was erected to mark the entrance to Chinatown. Nonetheless, the streets of the neighborhood were so crammed with stalls and street sellers that they were essentially impassable to vehicles. The crowding also made it a notorious haven for pickpockets and cutpurses.

In 1997, in preparation for the 150th anniversary of Chinese immigration to Peru, Calle Capón was cleared, closed to vehicles, and paved with over 30,000 red bricks bearing the names of donors and benefactors. Several panels were included depicting animals of the Chinese zodiac and, in the center of the new pedestrian mall, the ideogram for "Double Happiness".

Since the 1970s, along with this physical renovation, the rescinding of the ban on Chinese immigration contributed to a demographic and cultural renewal of the barrio chino as well.[7]

Today, Chinatown is still headquarters for several of the Chinese associations, and hosts several journals, such as La Voz de la Colonia China ("The Voice of the Chinese Colony"), published every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and Ch'iao Pao, which is published thrice weekly and is also circulated to other Peruvian cities.[8] Man Chin Po, the Americas' oldest Chinese-language newspaper, was published there Wednesdays and Saturdays since 1911, however it ceased publication in 2002.[9] There are also several temples and oracles, such as the oracle of Guangong at the Kuan Tai Kung Temple, which is administered by the Pun Yui society,[10] and temples to Guangong and other divinities run by the Ku Kong Chao and Tungshing associations.[11]

Like Chinatowns in other countries, Lima's Chinatown is also a source of Chinese ingredients and a hub of Chinese cuisine. There are over 6000 Chinese restaurants in Lima[12] called "chifas", and some of the most renown and venerable of these are located in Chinatown. The San Joy Lao, for example, was first established before 1920.[13][14] Other notable chifas in the neighborhood include the Salón China, Wa Lok, and Sala Capón.[15][16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lausent-Herrera, Isabelle. "The Chinese in Peru and the Changing Peruvian Chinese Community(ies)." In Journal of Chinese Overseas, 7(2011), pp. 69-113. Available online.
  2. ^ Asociacion Peruano-China webpage. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  3. ^ Lausent-Herrera, Isabelle. "The Chinese in Peru and the Changing Peruvian Chinese Community(ies)." In Journal of Chinese Overseas, 7(2011), pp. 69-113. Available online.
  4. ^ Asociacion Peruano-China webpage (Retrieved 22 January 2012).
  5. ^ Lausent-Herrera, Isabelle. "The Chinese in Peru and the Changing Peruvian Chinese Community(ies)." In Journal of Chinese Overseas, 7(2011), pp. 69-113. Available online.
  6. ^ Lausent-Herrera, Isabelle. "The Chinese in Peru and the Changing Peruvian Chinese Community(ies)." In Journal of Chinese Overseas, 7(2011), pp. 69-113. Available online.
  7. ^ Lausent-Herrera, Isabelle. "The Chinese in Peru and the Changing Peruvian Chinese Community(ies)." In Journal of Chinese Overseas, 7(2011), pp. 69-113. Available online.
  8. ^ Asociación Peruan-China, entry retrieved 4 Dec. 2012.
  9. ^ Asociación Peruan-China, entry retrieved 4 Dec. 2012.
  10. ^ El Oraculo at http://oraculodekuankong.blogspot.com (Retrieved 22 January 2012).
  11. ^ Asociacion Peruano-China webpage (Retrieved 22 January 2012).
  12. ^ TConline - Nov. 2002 - Chinese in Peru: Soul food
  13. ^ Chifa San Joy Lao webpage (Entry retrieved 22 January 2012).
  14. ^ La Aventura Culinaria television program; episode: "La Aventura del Chifa Especial" (Lima, 2010?)
  15. ^ "Our Lima Restaurant Reviews", in http://chowhound.chow.com's South and Central America and the Caribbean Board, 14 May 2007 (Entry retrieved 22 January 2012).
  16. ^ Fodor's Peru. New York : Fodor's Travel, 2008.

Coordinates: 12°03′03″S 77°01′33″W / 12.050957°S 77.025769°W / -12.050957; -77.025769