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Home History & Culture Changzhou History & Culture

Changzhou History & Culture


Changzhou is a national cultural and historical city. The Yancheng historic site (淹城遗址) located in the southern Changzhou is the best preserved ancient town existed before the Spring and Autumn period. The distinctive architectural layout and style of this site is considered as the Miracle of the World. Tianning Temple boasting Southeast China’s No.1 Temple is located in the east of city. Zhang Boduan (张伯端), the forefather of the south center of Taoism in Northern Song Dynasty, spread the Taoism and built Hongmei Pavilion (红梅阁, the red plum pavilion). Yizhou Pavilion(舣舟亭, the pavilion of berthing the boat) used to be the site that Su Dongpo berthed the boats for many times. Wenbi Pagoda has a history over 1500 years. For the private classical gardens in Changzhou, the representatives are Jinyuan Garden (近园), Weiyuan Garden(未园), Yueyuan Garden(约园) and Yiyuan Garden(意园)

The great poet, Gong Zizhen(龚自珍) of Qing Dynasty used to highly praise this place of raising the talented people – The world’s famous elites have their schools and origins, and in southeast China, Changzhou is absolutely unsurpassed (天下名士有部落,东南无与常匹俦). The number of the great souls from Changzhou ranks the No.4 in China next to Suzhou, Hangzhou and Beijing.

The culture of Changzhou actually starts from Ji Zha(季札), or Yanling Gongzi(延陵公子), approximately 2500 years ago. He was good at diplomacy, rituals and music, and emphasized the importance of promise. In the period of Southern and Northern Dynasties, Changzhou was a center of Qi and Liang States. Xiao family, exactly Xiaotong who compiled the Selections of Refined Literature(文选), gave a great influence to the literature, music and history of China.

The Portrait of Yanling Gongzi- one forefather of culture in East China

During the 1400-year period from Sui Dynasty to Qing Dynasty, there were 9 top winners of the imperial examination, 8 second-place winners of the imperial examinations and 11 third-place winners of the imperial examination and 1546 jinshi. Lu You praised highly Changzhou was a flourishing site of Confucianism and ranked No.1 of southeast China.

In Qing Dynasty, there were several academic schools appeared in Changzhou and influenced China widely and deeply. The representatives were Changzhou Painting School, Confucianism New-edition Classics School, Yanghu Literature School, Changzhou Ci School, Menghe Medicine School and Changzhou Pianwen Literature School.

In modern China, the western so-called new knowledge of science and technology spread in China, the local talents expressed their outstanding aspect based on the traditional study. In literature, art, news and history, a large group of great souls came out, who were represented by Sheng Xuanhuai(盛宣怀, who was an important figure of westernization group in late Qing Dynasty), patriotic industrialist Liu Guojun, master of calligraphy and painting Liu Haisu, the academic masters represented by Zhao Yuanren, Wu Zhihui and Wu Dingliang. After the Communist Party ruling China, Hua Luogeng and Wu Jieping are the great representatives from Changzhou as the academicians of CAS & CAE (China Academy of Science & China Academy of Engneering).

Anciently called Yanling or Longcheng (Dragon city translated literally) with a history over 2500 years. In culture and academics, there were four great academic schools nationwide famous.

Changzhou Cipai School (常州词派) was a quite influential literature group popular in the late period of reign of Emperor in Qing Dynasty. It was led by Zhang Huiyan(张惠言), and Ci was a popular lyrics with a musical rhythm, generally was created by the cultural elites and scholars in ancient times for amusements. Later, it became an important part of literary styles in literature of China. This school emphasized the importance of ancient creators’ style, a little bit similar to Italian Renaissance, and reflourished the influence of Zhou Bangyan and Qin Guan, the masterpiece they created was named Ci Xuan(词选, The Selections of Ci).

Changzhou Painting School(常州画派, which is also known as Yun Style) was an innovative painting school in early Qing Dynasty led by Yun Nantian(恽南田). The painting themes are mainly featured of the flowers and plants. They don’t care the stalks just the leaves and flowers themselves. They brushed the color to be the shapes.

The Official-Script Classics of Confucianism Academic School of Changzhou(常州今文经学派) paid more attention to the classics study of West Han Dynasty. The founders were Zhuang Cunyu and Liu Fenglu, both of who were the native of Changzhou.

Menghe Medicine School (孟河医派) located in the northern part of downtown Hangzhou. Menghe Medicine is a big school of Jiangsu Province. This school is comprised of four families - Fei Family, Ma Family, Chao Family and Ding Family

Changzhou is an origin of China’s national industry. In Tang Dynasty, Changzhou is one of 15 most important papermaking bases of China. In Song Dynasty, the brand silk named Jinling Silk produced in Changzhou was quite popular. Changzhou, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Huzhou and Shanghai at the time were five biggest silk production centers in East China. In Ming Dynasty, Changzhou was one of nationwide 33 business and manufacturing centers in China. In Qing Dynasty, Changzhou was an important tax sources. In modern China, Changzhou has been a quite famous city of business and industry. In 1859, China’s first modern industrial company and first business company appeared in Changzhou.

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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