The Yanmenguan is located in Daixian, northern Shanxi, an area characterized by “Yanmen Culture,” a unique blend of Han and nomadic traditions.|
The term “Yanmen Culture” is derived from the mixture of Han Chinese and Nomadic cultures intermixing here. Regarded as one of the most important pass along the length of the Great Wall since the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), an ancient saying reveals its significance: “If you capture Yanmen Pass, you will get the whole country – if you lose it, you will lose the whole country.” It was from here that General Meng Tian, Emperor Qinshihuang’s military confidant and builder of the Great Wall, led a troop of 3,000 to bravely meet the enemy head-on during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). Later, many famous generals from different dynasties were garrisoned here to protect the inner lands to the south, like Xue Rengui, Guo Ziyi and Li Keyong. The extensive fortifications in the pass survived many battles, and are listed as key cultural relics under national protection, along with the section of the Great Wall that passes through here dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
One of the most famous names associated with Daixian and Yanmen Pass is the Yang family of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Yang is still a respected name in the town, as after the first Yang general died, his wife and children continued to guard Yanmen Pass and the frontier area. The family earned the admiration of locals through their devotion to maintaining peace and order on the northern border. Their descendents still live in the town today.