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Fengjing Town

Fengjing Town has a history of more than 1500 years, and it was ever divided and governed separately by Wu and Yue States during the Spring and Autumn Period. As a typical town which located south of the Yangtze River, Fengjing Town has long been known as “pass two bridges within a few steps, and a chance glimpse catches ten rivulets” for its surrounding water network and many creeks inside. There are many small dikes in the town which are shaped like lotus leaves. The whole town is full of trees and buildings with gurgling water and elegant lotus here and there. So it is also known as “Town of Lotus” at home and abroad.

Entering a grand, partitioned stone archway carved “Fengjing” in Chinese calligraphy, and then walking along the river that flows about the ancient town, you will reach the stone archway carved “Dongzha” (Eastern Archway) in Chinese characters. Every morning, tea shops on either ends of river bridges are opened for business with tea aroma. From a fish market, fishers row by buildings and stone piers to reach the covered corridors by the river.

After the stone gate is Shengchan Street where along the winding river is a long black-tile-covered corridor with red lanterns hanging under the eaves. During Ming and Qing Dynasties, rice stores were one next to another on the street. But when it came to the recent times, almost all of them were destroyed by weathering. The existing corridors were reconstructed. The people's daily life is the young will go to work and the old will go to the river, killing fishes, washing rice and vegetable for making family dishes or washing clothes. Those old houses don't have magnificent appearance, but yet walking on the long and narrow lanes, you can still get a good view of the deep yards. The river streets in Fengjing are all in the pattern that one bank is opposite to the back of buildings yet another faces the front. On the opposite of the river are old houses against the river on Heping Street. The east of the street is a well-painted building with rake angle on the stone base. It is an ancient theater built for traditional stage performances. China’s drama took shape in Song and Jin Dynasties. This ancient theater was situated in the square of the Town God's Temple. When there is a performance, people can watch the show on a boat or standing on the street. The fair of Town God's Temple appeared in Qing Dynasty, the grand occasion was recorded in the history of Fengjing that when young men and women would go out to attend the performance over miles, and the river was obstructed for so many boats.

Around the end of the bridge of Town God’s Temple on the east of the corridor is a western-style red gate, where is the former site of fire office of East District. It is also the relatively complete fire department of recent times kept in Shanghai. Berthed on the river before the gate, there is an old red fireboat, which is the last one on water at Shanghai. The three exhibition halls with one hundred articles of folk-custom exhibited here as great tourist attractions, i.e. hundred-basket hall, hundred-lamp hall and hundred-trade hall.

The North Street is best preserved as an ancient business street. It is sandwiched in between two-storied buildings with wooden windows in natural color. You will find that only a narrow strip of sky can be seen. These building fronts are of all undiversified planar construction. It is hard to tell their characters, but watching them from their back in a boat, you will discover that all buildings are against the river and have different decorations like double eaves and tiles, arcade, or pavilions, etc. It is really a wonderful dwelling view of a water village.

The North Street was ever the business place of stores and workshops for developed handicraft industry. As early as the Song Dynasty, there were handiworks like ironware, wood pieces, bamboo ware, farm tools and small ware for daily use. When the weaving technology was introduced, spinning and weaving began popular here. During Ming and Qing Dynasties, Fengjing was included in the national production and trade center of cotton spinning and weaving. Fengjing Town also emerged as an important producing area of rice wine since the 1930s. Rice wine and some local specialties enjoyed a century history.

Around by water, the ancient town ever had 52 bridges and yet has just over ten now. The oldest is Zhihe Bridge by the South Street. It was built in the Yuan Dynasty. It is old, simple and solid with lichen growing in its stone seams. Its both ends are stone stairs and piers. Standing on the bridge, you will have an all view with the plants, ancient houses and ports on both banks with Rainbow Bridge before and a stone bridge behind.

Fengjing has developed folk culture. Here is known as the hometown of famous Jinshan farmers' paintings, which have borrowed the essence of other folk arts like indigo print, furniture carving, kitchen mural, lantern, paper-cut, embroidery and weaving. Represented by the farmer painters in Fengjing, Jinshan farmers created the only art of Jinshan farmers' paintings with heavy folk culture which had made great influence in China and abroad. On the North Street, there is the cartoonist Ding Cong's exhibition hall. In Fengjing Town, you can appreciate farmers' paintings, Ding Cong's cartoons, Cheng Shifa's Chinese paintings and famous go-player Gu Shuiru's. These international influencing arts and works can be seen in a town, it is really a rare regional culture phenomenon in China.