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By the Yellow River
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Qikou is a quiet town by the Yellow River. by Wang Xiaobo

Once a well-known place of commerce and culture on the shore of the Yellow River, Qikou Town was an important transit point between the provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi. In terms of both its architectural characteristics and folk customs, this place is a classic example of northern China's ancient towns.

The Yellow River cuts through the provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi, and in ancient times, besides the waterway, there were no other vehicular routes, and Qikou Town played a pivotal role in the trade of goods to the east. Qikou Town in Shanxi and its peripheral areas evolved into a flourishing commercial district. Northern businessmen shipped cattle, sheep and fur via the Yellow River, the cargo was put ashore in Qikou Town and from there transported into the inland areas.

Located along the common boundary of the Yellow River and Qiushui River, Qikou's geographical position contributed to its great importance – and its name. The Qiushui River flow was not great in volume, but the concentration of carried sediment was heavy. So at the point where that flow met the Yellow River, the flowing earth settled to form a sandbar, referred to as qi by the Shanxi people. When commercial ships fully loaded with goods came to this place, they would often run aground and the businessmen would have to disembark with their cargo. Shanxi people referred to this sort of place as kou. Thus came to be the name: Qikou Town.

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