The province of Jiangsu was formed in the seventeenth century. Before then, the northern and southern parts of Jiangsu had less connection than that later. Traditionally, South Jiangsu is referred to as the three more prosperous southern cities including Suzhou, Wuxi and Changzhou. Their culture is more southern than the rest and is oftened referred to as the Wu. All the other parts of the province is dominated by the so-called "Jianghuai Culture", which means the culture in the area between the Yangtse River (Jiang) and Huaihe River (Huai), though not all of them lie within the district defined by the term. In history, the term North Jiangsu refers to the cities to the north of the Yangtze River. For cities of Nanjing and Zhenjiang, neither the two terms (North Jiangsu and South Jiangsu) refers to them, because though they are to the south of the River, culturally they are still of the Jianghuai Region. Since about 1998, there is a new classification used frequently by the government and defined by economic means. It groups all the cities to the south of the Yangtse River as South Jiangsu, the cities of Yangzhou, Nantong and Taizhou as Middle Jiangsu, and all the rest as North Jiangsu.
Though the terms of classification are very complex, by cultural means only the very north cities of Xuzhou and Lianyugang are culturally north Chinese. All the rest areas of the province are culturally south, though the three South Jiangsu cities are more purely southern while the culture in other cities is more a transitional mixture dominated by the southern.
Two main subdivisions of the Chinese language, Mandarin (not Putonghua, the national standard speech based on the Beijing dialect, also commonly called Mandarin) and Wu, are spoken in different parts of Jiangsu. Dialects of Mandarin are spoken over the traditional North Jiangsu, Nanjing and Zhenjiang, while Dialect of Wu is used in South Jiangsu. Mandarin and Wu are not mutually intelligible and the dividing line is sharp and well-defined. (See also Nanjing dialect, Xuzhou dialect, Yangzhou dialect, Suzhou dialect, Wuxi dialect, Changzhou dialect). In addition, Standard Chinese (Putonghua/Mandarin) is also spoken by most people.
Jiangsu is rich in cultural traditions. Kunqu, originating in Kunshan, is one of the most renowned and prestigious forms of Chinese opera. Pingtan, a form of storytelling accompanied by music, is also popular: it can be subdivided into types by origin: Suzhou Pingtan (of Suzhou), Yangzhou Pingtan (of Yangzhou), and Nanjing Pingtan (of Nanjing). Xiju, a form of traditional Chinese opera, is popular in Wuxi, while Huaiju is popular further north, around Yancheng. Jiangsu cuisine is one of the eight great traditions of the cuisine of China.
Suzhou is also famous for its silk, embroidery art, jasmine tea, stone bridges, pagodas, and its classical gardens. Nearby Yixing is famous for its teaware, and Yangzhou is famous for its lacquerware and jadeware. Nanjing's yunjin is a famous form of woven silk, while Wuxi is famous for its peaches.
Since ancient times, south Jiangsu has been famed for its prosperity and opulence, and simply inserting south Jiangsu place names (Suzhou, Yangzhou, etc.) into poetry gave an effect of dreaminess, as was indeed done by many famous poets. In particular, the fame of Suzhou (as well as Hangzhou in neighbouring Zhejiang province) has led to the popular saying: 上有天堂，下有苏杭 (above there is heaven; below there is Suzhou and Hangzhou), a saying that continues to be a source of pride for the people of these two still prosperous cities. Similarly, the prosperity of Yangzhou has led poets to dream of: 腰缠十万贯，骑鹤下扬州 (with a hundred thousand strings of coins wrapped around the waist, riding a crane down to Yangzhou).
Nanjing was the capital of several Chinese dynasties and contains a variety of historic sites, such as the Purple Mountain, Purple Mountain Observatory, the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, Ming Dynasty city wall and gates, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum (The mausoleum of the first Ming Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang), Lake Xuanwu, Jiming Temple, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial, Nanjing Confucius Temple, Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, and the Nanjing Zoo, with circus. Suzhou is renowned for its classical gardens (designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), as well as Hanshan Temple, and Huqiu Tower. Nearby is the water-town of Zhouzhuang, an international tourist destination where Venice alike waterways, bridges and dwellings have been preserved over centuries. Yangzhou is known for Thin West Lake. Wuxi is known for being the home of the world's tallest buddha statue. In the north, Xuzhou is designated as one of China's "eminent historical cities".
Located in the southern part of the Yangtze River delta, Taihu Lake is the third largest freshwater lake in China. With a surface area of about 2,338 square kilometers (about 902 square miles), Taihu Lake is a famous scenic spot in China and is famed for its lake, its hills and its splendid man-made scenery.
Taihu Lake is just like a bright pearl set in the Yangtze River delta. It crosses Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, where 48 islets of different sizes and 72 peaks and peninsulas along the lake combine to form a panorama of great natural beauty. The best place to view the beautiful Taihu Lake is on the Turtle Head Islet. Turtle Head Islet is an islet stretching into the lake, whose shape is really like the head of a turtle protruding from the water. Taihu Lake and the surrounding magnificence will bewitch your eyes when you climb onto Turtle Head. When the soft breezes blow, waves roll and the hills in the distance look like an overlapping landscape painting. The scene is really captivating. Turtle Head Islet Park is mainly made of the natural landscape, augmented by man-made additions. Flowers and trees can be seen everywhere. Various kinds of architecture are strategically placed among the trees and shrubs. All conspire to make the park graceful and elegant.
Besides the natural scenery of Taihu Lake, there are many ruins of historic sites, such as the Grand Canal of the Sui Dynasty (581-618), the Islets in the lake along with the coastal places in the east, the north and the west both of which are the cradle land of the culture of Wuyue (this culture touches on traditions that flow from or refer to Jiangsu, Zhejiang and the southeast part of Anhui Province today) and so on.
Taihu Lake is an abundant source of fish. Traveling there, you can taste the famous delicious food known as 'Taihu Lake Three Whites', including white shrimp, whitebait and whitefish. The feast is generally prepared in the boat as one floats on the placid waters of Taihu Lake. It is very well worth a visit.
Have you ever heard of the poem A Night Mooring near Maple Bridge written by Zhang Ji, a poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907)? In this poem, Zhang described the midnight bell rings of the Hanshan Temple (Cold Mountain Temple). Since then, the temple has become famous, especially for its bell rings and Buddhism culture.
Cold Mountain Temple, also called Hanshan Si in Pinyin, is situated five kilometers (about three miles) from Fengqiao Old Town in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. It is said that in the Tang Dynasty, a famous monk Han Shan came to take charge of the temple, hence its name. Building originally commenced during the Liang Dynasty (502-557), and was repaired again in the following dynasties. Now, covering an area of about 10,600 square meters (about three acres), it presents the architectural style of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It includes the Grand Prayer Hall, Sutra-Collection Building, Bell Tower, Fengjiang Pavilion and Tablets Corridor, etc. In 1995, a five-storey Buddhism pagoda as high as 42 meters (about 138 feet) was erected called Puming Pagoda, which then became the symbolic building of the temple. There are many more historical relics in the temple, such as the statue of Han Shan, the stone tablet inscription of the poem A Night Mooring near Maple Bridge and some other tablet inscriptions written by famous intellectuals of ancient China.
Being one of the most famous temples in Chinese history, Hanshan Temple often boasts about its bell rings. However, the best known bell described in Zhang Ji's poem disappeared a long time ago. The bell in the tower now, was modeled on the previous one in 1904. Every year on New Year's Eve in China's lunar calendar, the bell is tolled to pray for the happiness and safety of the coming New Year. This festival attracts thousands of tourists both at home and abroad.
Cold Mountain Temple is also a Buddhism temple. The statue of the Buddhist patriarch Sakyamuni is there for people to make offerings to in the Grand Prayer Hall. In the Hongfa Hall, there are bronze statues of three eminent monks: Xuan Zang (a Tang Dynasty monk and translator), Jian Zhen (a Tang Dynasty monk who once went to preach Buddhism in Japan) and Kong Hai. Kong Hai was a Japanese monk who studied Buddhism in China in the ninth century. He once visited Hanshan Temple when he stayed in China and after he returned to Japan, he started to preach Buddhism in his country. Until now, Hanshan Temple is still one of the most important places to hold Buddhism activities.
Around the Cold Mountain Temple, you can also enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Maple Bridge, where Zhang Ji's boat was once moored, and get a realistic feel of the ordinary life of the people living in the Fengqiao Old Town. You can also have a look at the famous Jinghang Canal, which is the longest ancient man-made canal in the world.
Lion Garden in Suzhou
Grand Buddha at Ling Shan, Wuxi
Qixia Temple in Qixia Mountains
Swallow Rock in Yanziji
Tombs of Southern Tang Emperor
Jiangsu Province, Su for short, lies in East China. The industries and the agriculture here are well developed. Among its agricultural produces, the outputs of rice, cotton, silk, tea, oil and freshwater fish hold important positions in China. Its most important industries are machinery, chemical industry, electricity, electronics and cement. Known as a "land of fish and rice", Jiangsu gets its name from the first character of its two cities, Jiangning (now Nanjing) and Suzhou.
Jiangsu boasts the largest number of historical and cultural cities, such as Worldly Heaven Suzhou, Yangzhou, Nanjing, Zhenjiang, Huai'an, and Xuzhou, etc. Of the more than 200 lakes, the larger ones are the Hongze Lake, the West Lake, the Tai Lake, the Xuanwu Lake, and the Gaoyou Lake, which earn Jiangsu the name "Water Countryside". Historical relics include the Stone City in Nanjing, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Tomb, the Xiao Tomb of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Han Mausoleum and Pits of Terracotta Soldiers, etc. Other places of interest are Yuntai Mountain, Zhongshan Mountain, the Suzhou Garden and the Three Caves in Yixing.
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