History

Authors: Go Chengdu

2014-07-23

Chengdu was founded over 2,300 years ago and throughout over the long course of the Chinese history, it is the only city in the country that has never changed name or location.
Chengdu was founded over 2,300 years ago and throughout over the long course of the Chinese history, it is the only city in the country that has never changed name or location. The origin of the name of Chengdu can be traced to a famous saying by the ruler of Western Zhou Dynasty: “one year there rises a community, two years a town, and three years a city” (Chengdu means “to become a city”). During the Five Dynasties Ten States period, post-Shu emperor Meng Chang ordered hibiscus tree to be planted along the city walls and during flowering season the trees of 40 miles on the city walls came out to present a splendid sight like a long screen of brocade, which is why Chengdu is nicknamed the Hibiscus City.
As part of the first batch of historically famous cities in China, Chengdu obviously has its share of glorious history. As early as the Western Han dynasty (206BC - 9AD), Chengdu became the birthplace of the world’s lacquer craft tea culture. During the Sui and Tang dynasties, the active economy, vibrant culture and developed state of Buddhism lifted Chengdu to be one of the four famous cities, along with Chang’an (today’s Xi’an), Yangzhou and Dunhuang. Its agriculture, silk production, handicrafts, commerce, paper-making and printing were highly advanced and Chengdu was the earliest city to invent and use the printing press method. At that time, there was a saying of “yangyi yier (Yangzhou the first, Chengdu the second city nationwide)” that recognized Chengdu as the country’s number two most prosperous city second only to Yangzhou.
During the Song dynasty, Chengdu enjoyed a long period of flourishing economy and culture. For instance, the world’s earliest circulated paper money jiaozi appeared here and during the Renzong Period of Northern Song dynasty, Chengdu established official jiaozi operations to manage the printing and distribution of jiaozi. Following the development of commodity economy, Chengdu’s silk industry followed suit and expanded to claim more than 70% of silk paid as tribute. After the Song and Yuan dynasties, Chengdu acted as the political, economic, military and cultural center of Sichuan and the entire southwestern region.
Another relic of ancient Chengdu is the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project, which is the oldest existing large-scale irrigation project in the world, and which still irrigates the Chengdu region. The project was built in 256 BC to divert and control the turbulent Minjiang River, about 56km from downtown Chengdu. In 2000, Dujiangyan became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Dujiangyan Irrigation System at upper Minjiang River creates a fan-shaped irrigation network that spreads over the vast Chengdu Plain. This hydrological marvel is famed for allowing “floods and droughts controlled by the people who know no hunger” and making the region prosper into “the Land of Abundance”, a name bestowed since the Tang Dynasty.
   

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