Location of Ya'an City jurisdiction in Sichuan
|• Total||15,300 km2 (5,900 sq mi)|
|Elevation||580 m (1,900 ft)|
|• Density||100/km2 (260/sq mi)|
Previously known as Yazhou-fu, the city is first mentioned during the
"The busy little town [of Yaan] was full of life, for its market is the only trading centre for the Chinese and Tibetans from
Kangting. Accompanied by two coolies, I crossed the long suspension bridge which oscillates alarmingly over the Ya Ho. I got separated from my coolies in the dense crowd which swarmed along the main street, but in the end found them, and my luggage, at the Catholic mission, where two venerable fathers welcomed me with the flowery courtesy of mandarins...
Yaan is the main market for a special kind of tea which is grown in this part of the country and exported in very large quantities to Tibet via
Kangtingand over the caravan routes through Batang(Paan) and Teko. Although the Chinese regard it as an inferior product, it is greatly esteemed by the Tibetans for its powerful flavor, which harmonizes particularly well with that of yak butter and salt which Tibetans often mix with their tea. Brick teacomprises not only what we call tea leaves, but also the coarser leaves and some of the twigs of the shrub, as well as the leaves and fruit of other plants and trees (the alder, for instance). This amalgam is steamed, weighed, and compressed into hard bricks, which are packed up in coarse matting in subunits of four. These rectangular parcels weigh between twenty-two and twenty-six pounds—the quality of the tea makes a slight difference to the weight—and are carried to Kangting by coolies. A long string of them, moving slowly under their monstrous burdens of tea, was a familiar sight along the road I followed."
On April 20, 2013, the city was hit by a major