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Science And Nature

Discover Jiangsu: ancient gateway to the Maritime Silk Road

Published August 19, 2022

9 min read

Known whimsically as shui xiang, or the land of water, Chinas glittering province of Jiangsu has all of the geographical benefits to give it a starring role in the epic tale of Chinas ancient Maritime Silk Road. Boasting over 600 miles of coastline sufficient reason for both Yangtze River and the Grand Canal flowing through it, Jiangsu was instrumental in facilitating the exchange of precious goods and epoch-shaping ideas between China and southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and also the east coast of Africa over centuries of trade and tribute.

Jiangsu today includes a host of ancient sites and tourism resources focused on celebrating the achievements of the Maritime Silk Road. For history buffs or the casually curious, here are a few cities to go to for a vivid sense of Jiangsus illustrious history.

Nanjing

At the dawn of the Ming dynasty in the 14th century, the town of Nanjing in Jiangsu was proclaimed capital of China. A mighty wall grew up around it, among the longest ever built which large tracts survive and may be walked upon today. The Hongwu emperor, the initial of the dynasty, lies buried in an impressive mausoleum located at the southern foot of Purple Mountain. His immense tomb, inscribed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, is reached by way of a grand funerary walkway lined having an honor guard of stone statues.

His successor, the Yongle Emperor ordered the construction of a fleet of treasure ships in 1403 beneath the command of Zheng He, a soldier who rose to prominence beneath the emperor. Zheng embarked on seven epic sea voyages, commanding among the largest & most advanced fleet of ships the planet had ever seen. Excavations indicate these mighty vessels were built-in Nanjing: a reconstruction of 1 of Zhengs largest ships can be looked at at the Treasure Shipyard Relic Park, alongside artifacts like shipbuilding tools and ship parts.

The treasure ships were loaded with a precious tribute of silk and porcelain designed to facilitate diplomatic relations with other nations. Nanjing itself was a significant center of silk production. To comprehend why Chinese silks were this type of valued commodity, visit the Jiangning Imperial Silk Manufacturing Museum and the Nanjing Silk Brocade Museum where youll see a few of the finest silk garments on earth, many made specially for the imperial family.

Yangzhou and Lianyungang

Also occurring over water in Jiangsu, may be the spread of ideas, philosophies and also religions. In the town of Yangzhou, well-known for its historic gardens and exquisite Huaiyang cuisine, there lived a Tang-dynasty monk by the name of Jianzhen. In the 8th century he served as abbot of Yangzhous Daming Temple, that may be visited on Shugang Mountain today. Jianzhen attempted several sea voyages to Japan, eventually succeeding and spreading the teachings of Buddhism there.

Many centuries earlier through the Han dynasty, Buddhism first settled on Chinas shores. Near to the present-day city of Lianyungang in northern Jiangsu is Kongwang Mountain, a scenic peak that gets its name from the fact that it had been once climbed by Confucius. Visitors can scale the mountain, since it was said the fantastic Sage once did, to see an accumulation of ancient Buddhist carvings etched on a cliff face. A few of the earliest types of Buddhist art in China, these carvings prove the significance of the Maritime Silk Road and Jiangsu province in the spread of religion across China.

A few of Jiangsus more unusual Maritime Silk Road relics will be the tombs of travelling foreign VIPs. In Yangzhou, Puhaddins Tomb is thought to include a descendent of the prophet Mohammed who crossed oceans to Yangzhou to talk about their own teachings.

Yancheng

Salt was among the commodities that played an integral role in the annals of trade in Jiangsu, adding to the wealth and prosperity of the province. A significant source was the natural salt reserves of Yancheng, which literally means salt city. However the movement of goods facilitated by the Maritime Silk Road is section of its story. In Yancheng, this remarkable ocean corridor also plays host to the epic migrations of rare bird species like cranes, egrets, and spoonbill sandpipers. The town houses the pristine Yellow Sea wetlands, an all natural sanctuary which may be likened to a global port, not for ships but also for migratory birds who stay in the wetlands to rest and prey on the rich aquatic animals and plants found there before continuing their long voyages.

At Yancheng National Nature Reserve and the Dafeng National Nature Reserve, miles and miles of vast tidal flats are waiting to be explored, and create a fascinating destination for bird-watchers and the ones who benefit from the tranquility of open nature. These unique environments, made up of salt marsh and mudflat habitats, were named a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 2019.

Nantong

In Jiangsus bustling port city of Nantong, goods have flowed in and from the province by water for years and years. Even today fleets of hardy fishing boats for sale ply the waters of the East China Sea reeling in yellow croaker, seabream, sea crabs and countless other delectable seafood treats. At Lusi Port Town, which has a thousand years of maritime history, visitors can explore the vast commercial seafood market and pick the freshest catch of your day, plucked out of tanks by stall holders and steamed or cooked in sizzling woks when you wait.

Sea culture defines the countless activities for tourists in Lusi, among the highlights being the opportunity to view aquatic creatures at the Nantong Underwater World. The view from Lusis bustling shoreline reveals the thriving seascape of Jiangsus offshore environment, where vast cargo container vessels and smaller fishing boats for sale sail the same waters where in fact the wooden-hulled treasure ships of Zheng Hes fleet lay out on the historic expeditions centuries earlier. Its a continuity of commerce and exploration that presents that the historic Maritime Silk Road hasn’t really gone away, and continues to thrive even today.

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