Suzhou - a Water Town
Suzhou is not a big city in China. The total area is 8,488 squire km, the population is 6,062,200. It has embroidery manufactures and food-processing, pharmaceutical, computer and electronics industries. Suzhou has also been an important center for China's silk industry since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and continues to hold that prominent position today.
History of Suzhou
Suzhou, the cradle of Wu culture, is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze Basin. 2500 years ago, local tribes who named themselves "Gou Wu" in the late Shang Dynasty lived in the area which would become Suzhou.
In 514 BC, during the Spring and Autumn Period, King Helu of Wu established "Great City of Helu", the ancient name for Suzhou, as his capital. In 496 BC, Helu was buried in Huqiu (Tiger Hill.
In 473 BC, Wu was defeated by Yue, another kingdom to the east that was soon annexed by Chu in 306 BC. The golden era of Suzhou was over. Remnants of this culture include the remainders of the 2,500 year old wall and the gate through it at Pan Gate.
By the time of the Qin Dynasty, the city was known as Wu County. Xiang Yu staged his historical uprising here in 209 BC, which contributed to the overthrow of Qin.
During the Sui Dynasty, the city was renamed Suzhou in 589 AD.
When the Grand Canal was completed, Suzhou found itself strategically located on a major trade route. In the course of the history of China, it has been a metropolis of industry and commerce in the south-eastern coast of China.
During the Tang Dynasty (825 AD), the great poet Bai Juyi constructed the Shantang Canal (called "Shantang Jie" to connect the city with Huqiu for the tourists. In 1035 AD, the temple of Confucius was founded by the great poet and writer Fan Zhongyan. It became the venue for imperial civil examinations.
In February 1130, the advancing Jin army from the north sacked and massacred the city. This was followed by the Mongol invasion (1275) and destruction of the royal city (in the centre of the walled city) in the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1367).
Thereafter, the city had a more prosperous time. Many of the famous private gardens were constructed by the gentry of the Ming and Qing dynasties. However, the city was to see another disaster in 1860 when Taiping soldiers advanced on and captured the city. In November 1863 the Ever Victorious Army of Charles Gordon recaptured the city from the Taiping forces.
The next crisis that met the city was the Japanese invasion (1937). Many gardens were devastated by the end of the war. In the early 1950s, restoration was done on Zhuo-Zheng Yuan (Humble Administrator's Garden), Dong Yuan (East Garden), and others, to bring them back to life.
In 1981, this ancient city was listed by the State Council as one of the four cities (the other three being Beijing, Hangzhou and Guilin) where the protection of historical and cultural heritage as well as natural scenery should be treated as a priority project. Since then, with suburban economic projects, Suzhou has developed into one of the most prosperous cities in China.
Culture of Suzhou
Kunqu originates in the Suzhou region, as does the much later Suzhou Opera. Ballad-singing, or Suzhou Pingtan is a local form of storytelling that mixes singing (accompanied on the pipa) with portions in spoken dialect.
There are many famous handicrafts in Suzhou. Suzhou embroidery, fans, national musical instruments, scroll mounting, lanterns, mahogany furniture, jade carving, silk tapestry, traditional painting pigments of Jiangenxutang Studio, the New Year's wood-block prints of Taohuawu Studio
Paintings and calligraphic art is famous in Suzhou. And there are some famous universities in Suzhou too.
Suzhou - a Water Town