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Hangzhou Culture



In 328 A.D., Indian Buddhist Hui Li established the Lingyin Temple and in 330, he also founded Fajing Temple. During the time of 479 - 482, Buddhist Tan Chao established Yuquan Temple. In 725, the governor of Hangzhou Hong Chunqiao planted nine-li pine trees. From then on, Nine-Li Cloudy Pine Trees was qualified as one of Eight Scenery of Qiantang.

In 781, Li Mi dug six wells for bringing water to Hangzhou city to relieve the drought in Hangzhou. In 822, Bai Juyi as the governor of Hangzhou fathered the West Lake and rebuilt six wells, besides established the well-known Bai Causeway named by the local people to memorizing his contributions to Hangzhou, there were two renowned lines Yang Wanli (a noted ancient poet) wrote and popularized in the public when we are going to show our fondness of scenic spot in Hangzhou, namely: Insufficiency of promenade along the Bai Causeway, for eastern lake that green-poplar shades lay!


Roughly in 944, Qian Yue, the king of Wuyue, established Lingfeng Temple for Buddhist monk named Fuhu, which became one of the best scenic spots around West Lake. In 968 A.D., Qian Hong, the king of Wuyue, was summoned to Bianliang (now Kaifeng) by the emperor of Song Dynasty, Zhao Kuangyin, and his uncle, Wu Yanshuang wished him had came back safely, so he established the pagoda, named Baochu, on Baoshi hill near West Lake. In 970, Qian Hong established Pagoda of Six Harmonies near the Qiantang River and established Kaihua Temple and in 975, he established Leifeng Pagoda for celebrating one of his son's births, in this pagoda 84,000 rolls sutra, Baoqieyinjing, and later he became a great scenic spot in West Lake, Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow. But in 1924, this pagoda collapsed.


During the time of 1071 - 1074, Su Shi, the world-renowned poet acted as one official in Hangzhou and in 1089, Su Shi acted as the governor of Hangzhou because of his demotion, he began to dredge up the West Lake which had not been well operated for a long time, he founded six bridges and planted willows along the banks and lotus in the lake, and the bank he established was called the Su Causeway by later generation. And some typical scenic spots of West Lake are gathered in this area. In 1091, he left Hangzhou, and the civilians said goodbye to him wearing tears, even today he is also commemorated by the local people by way of putting up his portrait in the sitting room. Besides, the local people built up an ancestral temple to remember him at the side of West Lake. In 1141, the national hero Yue Fei was killed by Gaozong, the emperor of Southern Song Dynasty and his premier Qin Hui. In 1158, Southern Song Dynasty began to build the palace at the foot of phoenix hill with 13 grand halls, 37 subordinate palaces and 17 imperial gardens. In 1241, Buddhist Hui Kai arrived in Hangzhou from Jiangxi built up temples for Huanglong grot which was one of the scenic spots of West Lake. In 1271, Lao A-ding, an Islamite, rebuilt up the Phoenix Temple in Hangzhou, and this one became one of four ancient temples of Islam in China. In 1277, the fire accidents caused by the civilians burned out of the imperial palaces of Southern Song Dynasty.


In 1284, Marco Polo (1254-1324) was nominated to be one high official of Yuan Dynasty in Hangzhou. In 1405, Zhou Xing was appointed as the prosecuting attorney but in 1412 he was killed for groundless delict and condemnation, and Hangzhou civilians respected him and regarded him as the town god of Hangzhou. In 1459, the loyal official of Ming Dynasty, Yu Qian, died of the injustice and was buried in Santaishan, Hangzhou. Hangzhou people thought Yue Fei and Yu Qian superinduced more glorifications for Hangzhou.

Thanks to Yue Fei and Yu Qian, people began to focus on the West Lake. In 1689, Emperor Kang Xi visited Hangzhou and in 1707, he visited Hangzhou for the fifth time and wrote down the calligraphy masterworks---Ten Scenes of West Lake which did a great deed for expanding the influence of West Lake. Between 1689 and 1784, Emperor Qian Long visited Hangzhou for six times, wrote down many famous poems to express his likes to Hangzhou and West Lake. Besides he also created many calligraphy masterworks including his handwriting for eighteen scenes of Qian Tang. In 1782 the rare book library in Shengyin Pavilion was changed the name for Wenlan Pavilion which was equally famous to Wenhui Pavilion and Wenzong Pavilion in the southern Yangze River, besides it reserved one part of Imperial Collection of Four.


In 1896, the governor of Hangzhou, Lin Qi built up the College of Qiushi which was the forerunner of Zhejiang University and it was the beginning of Chinese latter-day education. In 1904, seal-engravers society was founded; it was the top union of Chinese calligraphy and engravers, and it is respected by many literators. It also will be the greatest honor if you are qualified to be one member of it. In 1934, the celebrated bridge expert of our country, Mao Yisheng designed and took charge of building the Qianjing Bridge, the superstratum was highroad, and the underlayer was railway. It is the first modern bridge created and produced by Chinese people. Between 1953 and 1975, Chairman Mao visited Hangzhou for 40 times and wrote many famous essays and poems. The brief illustration was short and straightforward, and roughly introduced the main cultural memorabilia happened in the history, but it will be useful and helpful for the newcomers or tourists to learn some simple but impressive things about Hangzhou.



As the leisure and cultural city, Hangzhou has its own unique custom which not only enriches and colorizes the citizen's daily life but also add more freshness but liveliness to its culture. If you have read some essays on Hangzhou's custom, you will find more enchantment from its daily life, festival or entertainment. We can see that from the phenomenon that every year many artists visited in order to find more inspirations from its life and culture. And Hangzhou never lets them down, and then many outstanding works appear and also add more delicacy to Hangzhou. Hangzhou people like enjoying the life in the way of listening to the Shaoxing drama in teahouse which is a traditional Chinese-style architecture and buy a cup of tea held with the classic and skillful porcelain. The music played by Chinese Pipa and Er'hu will relax you as you taste the delicious and salubrious tea. How wonderful it will be! Especially the elders like staying together to chat what they are interested in, and the wisdom, their deep understanding to society and reality will be beneficial to the youngsters who also stand near to them. More and more impressive stories from those elders' mouths nurture deeply the new generations and also transfer the culture to the next generation. The drama, the Pingtan, the acrobatic, and the open-air movie give us the infinite imagination and naturally all words can't express the charm when you experience and enjoy by yourself. All these give Hangzhou the particular charm.



Hangzhou as the eastern spiritual center, we can't avoid to illustrate its religion. In Hangzhou, the most popular beliefs are Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Islam. As for the reason why Confucianism was so welcome, I think most of people who know a little bit about Chinese history and educational system can easily know the exact reasons. Confucianism was supported by the authority who prescribed those who can be qualified to be the officials should pass the royal examinations held by those Confucians and the content was also focusing on the Confucianism. So in Hangzhou, one of the seven old imperial capitals in China, it was undoubtedly recommended by the government and welcomed by those young candidates. Secondly Hangzhou was connected closely to the origin, development, flourish of Buddhism. There are so many temples that could show the significance of Buddhism in people's daily life and spiritual pursuit. Generally, the religion always links with the culture, so we could apprehend the religion through the visits to some exemplified temples in culture and religion of China's history. The represented temples as follows: Lingyin Temple, Three Temples at Tianzhu, Jinshan Temple, Baopu Taoist Temple, Phoenix Mosque and Sicheng Tang.




Hangzhou as the provincial capital of Zhejiang province is also famous for its relatively advanced education. Hangzhou is the one of centers of Chinese culture. The local people pay much attention to education which, in their opinion, straightforwardly dominated a person's future and a nation's destiny, since the ancient times all the while. Zhejiang University, which once was one of four new-style advanced colleges in latter-day period, is the third place in China and develops very fast with the help of government's aids. In fact, Hangzhou people from the old days always emphasize the function and importance of liberal arts. There are numerous authoritative writers, poets, artists from this place walk up to the world stage. The primary education, secondary education and advanced education are all following this unwritten regulations and traditions to keep cultural succession from one generation to another.


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