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Luzhi Water Town


Luzhi (甪直), originally named Fuli, located in Wuzhong District, Suzhou, is a prestigious ancient water town said to have a history over 5,500 years. Currently, it has been inscribed on the tentative list of world cultural heritage and the winner of excellent achievements in ancient township protection by UNESCO. It is a four-A tourist destination and the celebrated township for culture and history.

The View of Luzhi Water Town   The Building & Bridge of Luzhi Ancient Town

The natural beauty of the town is indescribable. Old stone bridges, limpid water, venerable maidenhair trees and old-style dwellings, as well as the traditional women's costumes, create an ideal 'civilized, rich, pastoral and harmonious' environment. A walk in the ancient town Luzhi is said to be a walk into history frozen in time, tranquil and serene. In addition, Luzhi town is noted for several historic and cultural relics, such as Baosheng temple, the Wansheng Rice Company and the White Lotus Flower Temple of the North Song Dynasty.

The town's most notable features are its numerous quaint stone bridges, which were built in the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Owing to that, Luzhi deserves its reputation as a 'Museum of Chinese Ancient Bridges'. At one time, there were 72 bridges in the tiny town; 41 still exist and are well preserved. All the bridges are different in design and style, among which Zhengyang Bridge and Dongmei Bridge are considered especially noteworthy.

Another feature of the town is the distinctive traditional costumes worn by the women. Both clothes and trousers are characteristically pieced together using different cotton materials in a variety of designs. In addition to wearing these clothes, local women are accustomed to wearing colorful kerchiefs and embroidered shoes. Undoubtedly, these lovely local women wearing traditional Luzhi-style costumes add freshness and loveliness to the water town, like a beautiful landscape picture.

Baosheng Temple

The most inviting site concerned about the culture and history is Baosheng Temple(保圣寺, Temple of protecting the sages).It was built in 503, with a history over 1500 years, and written into the first batch of cultural sites under the national protection approved by the State Council. There are nine clay sculptures of arhats valued as the essence of the temple. It was recorded that they were created by Yang Huizhi (杨惠之), a great sculptor of Tang Dynasty. Another deserving attention is the calligraphic writing of Zhao Mengfu (赵孟頫), a couplet on the columns of the temple –

Fuli ranks No.1 in Buddhism for its imperial temples built in Liang Dynasty
The Buddha statues created by Yang Huizhi are incomparable in Jiangnan Region

In temple, there are several historic sites such as Douyachi (斗鸭池, the pool of teasing duck), Xiaohongqiao (小虹桥, the bridge of small rainbow) and Qingfengting (清风亭, the pavilion of fresh breeze), all of which were said to be the sites connectedly closely with Lu Guimeng (陆龟蒙), a famous litterateur and poet in late Tang Dynasty.

Shen Family Mansion

Shen Family Mansion (沈宅) initially built in 1873, was the former residence of Shen Bohan (沈柏寒), a famous educationist of modern China. It is a history over 140 years. Shen family used to be a quite wealthy family in the possession of a multitude of properties and treasures. In modern China, it was called Shen Banzhen(沈半镇, half a town belongs to Shen family) in Luzhi town. Now, it is a local display hall exhibiting the town protection achievements, women’s costume of water town of Dongwu.

Memorial Hall of Wang Tao

Wang Tao (王韬, 1828-1897), a modern famous ideologist, political commentator and reformist of late Qing Dynasty, worked in Shanghai Mohai Library in 1849, due to the invitation of a British missionary. He worked there for 13 years and translated a great many western books; meanwhile, he also extensively touched and learnt the western knowledge of social science. He was the pioneer of China’s reformism prior to Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao. His thought was largely accepted, especially, his viewpoint that wealth and powerfulness were the root of administrating a state. He advocated learning the western technology and science, developing business and industry as well as the new-type transportation, and changing the imperial examination system and schooling. What he did contributed a lot to the arrival of Wushu Reform. Due to his extreme thought and hidden assistance to Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, he was wanted by Qing government, especially Li Hongzhang. He fled to Hong Kong, and worked in Yinghua Academy to help the missionary to translate the classics of Confucianism like Book of Songs, The Annals of the Spring and Autumn etc., and then he was invited to translate books in Britain, and he visited several main countries of Europe like UK, France and so on. He studied a lot about the ways of western powers administrating their countries. After returning, he founded Circulation Daily(循环日报), expressed the western culture and appealed for the reform and opening. In 1998, in memory of him, the local of Luzhi town established his memorial. This memorial is located on Xiatang Street 6, and features an architectural style of Qing Dynasty. It consists of three parts – the life experiences of Wang Tao, the former residence of Wang Tao and the Tao Garden.

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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