Zigong Salt History Museum
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The Zigong Salt History Museum (Chinese: 自贡市盐业历史博物馆) is a museum in Zigong, Sichuan Province, western China. It is housed in the Xiqin Guildhall (Chinese: 西秦会馆), built in 1736 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor in the Qing dynasty. The building is a Major Historical and Cultural Site of China.
Xiqin Guildhall was funded by the Shaanxi salt tradesmen, and used as a meeting place for salt merchants from Shaanxi, the main conduit for the Zigong salt. Another building nearby on the banks of the Fuxi (pronounced "fu'shee") River was the Guild Hall for the salt merchants of Sichuan. The guild hall took sixteen years to build at a great cost. It has a splendid exterior and exquisite internal structure and decoration, including many delicate stone and wooden carvings. It represents the highest level of architecture technologies of its age and is a symbol of wealth of salt merchants. The interior contains a large courtyard with a stone centerpiece of a dragon and phoenix. The guild hall once often hosted Sichuan opera for salt merchants as well as local elites in festivals.
The building features elaborate flying eaves and a gilded wooden carved interior based around a large galleried atrium where plays were once performed. Exhibits in the museum cover the entire history of salt mining dating from the Han dynasty.