According to the legends of the Zhuang ethnic minority, a mythical girl known as the “Song Fairy” or Liu Sanjie was wooed by her lover, A Niu, under the Big Banyan Tree. She gifted him an embroidered ball according to Zhuang custom, which meant she returned his affections, and he threw the ball from Big Banyan straight across the nearby river, onto the highest rock he could see. He did this so that the ball would remain untouched forever as a symbol of their everlasting love. This story was the inspiration for the stunning local performance “Impression Sanjie Liu”, and parts of the 1960 film Liu San Jie were shot in front of Big Banyan. To this day, Big Banyan holds a special place in the hearts of the Zhuang people and many other people local to Yangshuo County.
Big Banyan Tree Park is located in Gaotian village, which is about 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) outside of the county town of Yangshuo. The star attraction, aside from the scenic rural life of the local villagers, is the tree itself, which stands near the west bank of the Jingbao River. Big Banyan is a banyan tree that was supposedly planted during the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and has thrived for over 1,400 years. The tree currently stands at an impressive 17 metres (about 55.8 feet) in height and 7 metres (23 feet) in width. In spite of its age, its gnarled branches and crooked roots give way to the most luscious plumage of green leaves. Its canopy is so thick that, if you sit in the shade of Big Banyan, hardly any sunlight penetrates its dense foliage. It’s a particularly pleasant place to while away a hot summer afternoon, as under the shadow of Big Banyan you’ll hardly break a sweat!
According to tradition, the Zhuang people have long believed in animism. This is the philosophy that non-human entities, such as animals, plants, inanimate objects and natural phenomena, possess a spiritual essence. The 1,400 year old banyan tree, with its impressive stature, longevity and remarkable vitality, was and still is believed to be a god by the Zhuang people. Every year, many Zhuang people will visit the tree to burn incense and worship the god within the tree. We’re sure you won’t be able to resist the chance to spend a peaceful afternoon relaxing in the shade of Yangshuo’s very own “God-Tree”.