History and Culture

2019-01-07 12:30:15 source:

Zhejiang is well known as the “Land of Culture and History”. Zhejiang's prosperity began when China's financial center was moved to Jiangnan (the region south of the lower reach of Yangtze River) in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 – 420). Three cities from Zhejiang were included in the first group of national historical and cultural cities: Hangzhou, Shaoxing and Ningbo. Within the province’s borders, there are numerous historical and cultural relics such as the Pagoda of Six Harmonies in Hangzhou and the Lanting Pavilion in Shaoxing. 


At the Dawn of Civilization
Human activity can be traced back to the late Paleolithic Age, one million years ago in the Zhejiang Province. About this time in the Neolithic Age, people of the Shangshan Culture, Kuahuqiao Culture and Hemudu Culture cultivated rice in the southern areas of the Qiantangjiang River. Meawhile, Majiabang Culture, Songze Culture and Liangzhu Culture in the northern areas also developed with distinct regional characteristics. The splendid Liangzhu Culture has been regarded as a typical example of China civilization in views of its high productivity, complete social structure and sophisticated laws and regulations.

The earliest human fossils were found in the city of Jiande in western Zhejiang Province and belonged to "Jiande people" from about 50,000 years ago. However, they were not the earliest humans living in Zhejiang. Archaeologists found chopping tools used for hunting in Paleolithic sites in West Tiaoxi Creek in Anji County, Huzhou City in October 2010, which proved that humans had lived in Zhejiang about 1,000,000 years ago in the Paleolithic Age.

Ancient Yue Kingdom
The Ancient Yue Kingdom was founded by the Yue people, an ancient and powerful ethnic group, who lived in the Zhejiang Province during the pre-Qin Dynasty period (2070 BC-221 BC). They were the ancestors of people who live in this land today. The Yue people lived near Hangzhou Bay where they created a unique living style. In order to facilitate work near the water, Yues cut their hair short in the front and on the sides and tattooed snake pattern on parts of their bodies. They believed that this kind of appearance could help them to ward off evil spirits.

In early China, south China was rather barbaric, but Yue people had their own music and dance. They used gold, stone, leather, wood, bamboo and other materials to make a variety of musical instruments. Compared with the Central Plains, the music of the Yue was unique and full of local characteristics.

Capital City
The Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) established Kuaiji commandery in present-day Zhejiang which later became the center of bronze mirror casting in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25AD-220AD).  

Throughout history, intensive agriculture was the traditional type of farming in China. The typical cattle-drafted ferrous plough was already being used in the Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-221BC) and the technology was greatly improved during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). During the Sui Dynasty (581AD-618AD) and Tang Dynasty (618AD-907AD), agriculture  in South China was so well developed that it became a rice supplier for the whole country.

Top City in Southeast China
During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907AD-979AD), China was divided, and wars and conflicts between communities were frequent. Zhejiang was ruled by the Wu-Yue Kingdom and people lived in relative peace and socio-economics increasingly developed. During this time, Zhejiang became powerful in the Southeast . 

At the very beginning of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127AD),  Qian Chu, the 5th King of Wu-Yue submitted to the Song Dynasty in order to preserve peace. He was summoned to Beijing for months without return. The people in Zhejiang were so concerned for his safety that they built a pagoda on Precious Stone Hill north of West Lake to worhip him. Named the Baochu Pagoda, nowadays it is a remarkable sightseeing spot near West Lake.

Lin'an, present-day Hangzhou, was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127AD-1279AD) and the greatest city in Southeast China. Because Hangzhou was chosen as the capital, there was  rapid growth in population and commercial prosperity. 

Rich Zhejiang and Jiangsu 
The silk industry on the Hangzhou-Jiaxing-Huzhou plain was greatly developed during the Ming Dynasty (1368AD-1644AD) and Qing Dynasty (1644AD-1911AD). The Qing Government set up weaving works in the cities of Jiaxing, Suzhou and Hangzhou which served solely the royal and imperial needs. The various kinds of fabrics produced here were the best in all of China.

During the of Song Dynasty (960AD-1279AD)and Yuan Dynasty (1271AD-1368AD), in the coastal cities of Ningbo, Wenzhou, Taizhou, the shipbuilding industry and trade in Eastern Zhejiang flourished when the Silk Road developed .