Jimin Old Dak
The dak city sits at the foot of Jimin Hill on the north bank of the Yanghe River, within a village called Jimin 145 km from National Highway 110, geographically labeled as E115°18‘-20’, N40°27‘ , 550-540 m above the sea level. It is the largest, most impressive and well-preserved dak complex, highly valuable in history, artistic and scientific aspects. It is appraised as a “living fossil” for post archeology and confidentiality archeology. In 1982 it was listed as provincial cultural relics protection unit by the Hebei Province government. In 2001 it was brought into the 5th list of national cultural relics protection unit by the state council. In 2005 it was enrolled as the 2nd list of Chinese historical and cultural village by the Ministry of Construction and State Cultural Relics Bureau. Jimin Dak was put into the list of 100 World Heritages in Danger by WMF in 2003 and again in 2005.
Jimin Dak was built in the Yuan Dynasty. Genghis once khan led an army to conquer the west in 1219, and carved out post routes connecting the west, during which a number of “Zhanchi” were established (i.e. daks). By the Yongle 18th year of Ming Dynasty (A.D.1420), Jimin Dak had developed into the No.1 dak on the road from Xuanhua District to the Capital, with an administrative agency, barns, marshal offices, hotel courtyards, stables, theatrical stages and temples etc. built.
Daks played an important role in the Chinese history, and may be acting as a life line for an ancient country. Strong horses were employed to convey messages and issue government notices in the past. However, they had to be replaced in the midway for the destiny hundreds of kilometers away due to limited physical power, therefore, a horse station became an necessity, which in the later years evolved into a temporary dak to receive passing officers and merchants. It also undertook the duty of conveying messages and letters, and even functions of a military castle. A dak was like a post office and military base in the past so to speak.