Zhengyi Ancient Street
Geographical location and neighborhood overview: Zhengyi Ancient Street is located at the center of Zhengyi Street, running north-south. It borders the Loujiang River to the south and the Shanghai-Nanjing Intercity Railway to the north. The ancient and quaint residences are built along the Weitang River, with shops and houses lining up along the riverside. The stone embankments, arched bridges, and crystal-clear water of the Weitang River form a typical Jiangnan landscape, featuring “small bridges, flowing water, and households.” The old street comprises three roads, namely Shangtang Street, Xiatang Street, and Xiaogangli Street, with a total length of about 1.5 kilometers. Shangtang Street is about 2 meters wide, and the road is paved with crushed stones and slabs. In 2010, the magnificent archway of “Zhengyi Ancient Street” was restored at the entrance, with a couplet written by Lu Jiaheng and Wang Qing: “Seven hundred years of literary elegance, seeking the beauty of Jade Mountain, Three thousand hectares of waves and moonlight, a harmonious melody in a flourishing age.”
Historical buildings: Zhengyi Ancient Street boasts a rich historical background and an abundance of material cultural relics, with many ancient stone bridges and historical buildings still well-preserved within the neighborhood. The alleyways are flanked by Jiyun Tower, Wenkui Studio, Lu Residence, and Yilu Tower, which have all withstood the test of time. The ancient Shouan Bridge and Jingfu Bridge span the Weitang River, providing easy passage for travelers. Even some modern buildings, such as Zhengyi Railway Station, Liangguan Office, and the cinema, exude a strong historical atmosphere, presenting visitors with a unique and captivating glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of this old street.
Material culture: Kunshan is famous for its three treasures, and one of them, the Twin Lotus, can be found on the north side of Bantilian Road, not far from the east side of Zhengyi Ancient Street. The Gentleman Pavilion and Dongting Twin Lotus are well-known, and in 1958, they were listed as provincial key cultural relics protection units. During the Great Cultural Revolution, the Gentleman Pavilion was destroyed, but fortunately, the twin lotus, a special grade of lotus flowers, was successfully transplanted to Kunshan Tinglin Garden. Zhengyi is the earliest planting site of twin lotus, which belongs to the thousand-petal lotus category in lotus flowers and is known as the “gentleman of flowers,” renowned for its attractive appearance. Throughout history, people have regarded twin lotus as a symbol of auspiciousness, celebration, kindness, and beauty, and as a symbol of love, implying a loving and happy marriage, and symbolizing the deep affection between brothers. Local celebrity Gu Ayin built the “Yushan Scenic Spot” garden in Dongting Village, featuring dozens of pavilions, terraces, towers, and attics, and planted twin lotus in the pond, making it the earliest planting record.
Cultural Heritage: Zhengyi is a significant birthplace of Kunqu Opera, one of the oldest forms of drama in China, often referred to as the “ancestor of the hundred plays and the teacher of the hundred plays.” It’s the first representative of “Human Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage” and is a treasure in traditional Chinese culture and art. Kunqu Opera's origin, development, and significance are closely linked to Huang Fanchuo, a Tang Dynasty court artist and Yuan Dynasty poet Gu Aying, who played a vital role in its formation and development. Huang Fanchuo, who lived more than 1,200 years ago, is known as the first person to sing in the Kunshan style. During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, he was a renowned performer, specializing in military plays (similar to modern northern crosstalk). 600 years ago, Gu Aying, a literary scholar in the late Yuan Dynasty, resided in the Chodunshan area, and his family’s land stretched for miles. He built a garden covering about 10 square kilometers, with 28 scenic spots, collectively known as “Yushan Scenic Spot,” with Yushan Caotang as the most famous building. Gu Aying’s “Yushan Yaji” is one of the three great Yajis in Chinese literary history, alongside the “Lanting Yaji” in Zhejiang Shaoxing during the Eastern Jin Dynasty and the “Xiyuan Yaji” in Henan Kaifeng during the Northern Song Dynasty. Each Yaji played a crucial historical role in traditional Chinese calligraphy, painting, poetry, and drama. It’s believed that Gu Aying, an open-minded literati from the south, contributed significantly to the development of Chinese poetry, calligraphy, painting, and opera through his Yushan Caotang, a gathering place for the formation of the “Kunshan Tune.” Gu Aying’s Yushan Caotang brought together a group of opera enthusiasts, talented writers, composers, playwrights, and performing artists, and his contribution to the formation of the Kunshan Tune was indispensable.
Food Culture: Zhengyi is renowned for its culinary delights, including the famous Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs, clear water shrimps, and snails, collectively known as the “eight treasures of the lake.” Additionally, traditional dishes and snacks such as lard eight-treasure rice, soy sauce sugar trotters, soy sauce Dongpo pork, Qingtuanzi (sweet green rice balls), bubble wontons, and fermented rice cakes are all local specialties. Along the old streets, ancient-style shops stand side by side. Every spring, most Zhengyi households make their own Qingtuanzi, which has become a specialty of the area. The only time-honored brand is “Wenkui Zhai,” whose Qingtuanzi won recognition in the first Jiangsu Famous Dishes, Famous Pastries, and Famous Snacks competition in 1999. The traditional craftsmanship of Wenkui Zhai’s Qingtuanzi has been listed as an intangible cultural heritage of Kunshan City. Today, Zhengyi’s Qingtuanzi has become a “golden fruit,” enriching the local area.
3 municipal cultural relics protection units
1. Jiyun Building, Qing Dynasty, located in Shangtang Street, Zhengyi, Bacheng Town, protection level: city and county level.
[Jiyun Building] is located in Shangtang Street, Zhengyi Town. It was originally built by Duojin. The Zhao family is a prominent Zhengyi family with many branches, divided into Northern Zhao, Southern Zhao and Zhong Zhao. Beizhao is at the north end of Xiatang Street, and the late principal of Zhengyi Central Primary School, Zhao Mianxing, is his successor. The former residence still exists; Nanzhao is at Nanmu Bridge, Shangtang Street. It was demolished when the South Bridge was built. Jiyun Building was listed as a cultural relic protection unit in Kunshan City in November 2013.
2. Jingfu Bridge, Qing Dynasty, located in Zhengyi Ancient Street, Bacheng Town, protection level: city and county level.
[Jingfu Bridge] Zhengyi Jingfu Bridge is a single-hole stone arch bridge with a wide bridge deck that spans the Weitang River. Because it is located in the middle of the town, the locals call it Zhongxin Bridge. . The west side of the bridge is Xiatang Street, which connects with Master Street and leads directly to Chongwen Academy, primary and secondary schools. Jingfu Bridge was registered as an immovable cultural relic in the third national cultural relics census.
3. The former site of Zhengyi Railway Station, Qing Dynasty and Republic of China, located in Shangtang Street, Zhengyi, Bacheng Town, protection level: city and county level.
[Old Site of Zhengyi Railway Station] Close to Shanghai-Nanjing Railway, west of Weitang (Shihe), located at the north end of Zhengyi Shangtang Street. Zhengyi Railway Station has a history of more than 100 years. At the end of the Qing Dynasty, the British obtained the right to build the Shanghai-Nanjing Railway (that is, the Shanghai-Nanjing Railway). ) The section from Shanghai to Suzhou will be open to traffic first, and Zhenyi Station will be set up as a fourth-class station. The existing Zhengyi Railway Station has two parts. One part was built in the south of the railway when the British opened to traffic. On the east side are bungalows, station master's office, ticket office and passenger waiting room; on the west side are dormitories and canteens for railway employees. Between the two bungalows is a sloping walkway leading to the railway, through which passengers go to the platform to board the train after checking their tickets. The other part is the Japanese-style building added at the entrance of the station after the Japanese army occupied Zhengyi.
9 cultural relics protection sites
1. Shou'an Bridge, Qing Dynasty, located in Zhengyi Ancient Street, Bacheng Town, protection level: not rated.
[Shou'an Bridge] Located in the north section of Zhengyi Ancient Street, it runs from east to west and spans the Weitang. The West Bridge is bordered by Xiaogang. Shou'an Bridge was demolished in the mid-1990s and rebuilt into a small and exquisite granite stone arch bridge.
2. Jufu Bridge, Qing Dynasty, located in Xiaogangli Village, Zhengyi, Bacheng Town, protection level: not rated.
[Jufu Bridge] At Zhangjiabangkou at the west end of Zhengyizhai West Village, there is an original Guanyin Hall nearby, also called Guanyintang Bridge, and the villagers call it West Bridge. It was first built in the 48th year of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1708) and rebuilt in the 22nd year of Daoguang. It runs north-south and spans the Zhaixi River. It is built of granite, with single-span beams and a slab deck without rails. It is 18.8 meters long and 2.7 meters wide. There are stone barges along the river on both banks.
3. Taiping Bridge, Qing Dynasty, located in Xiaogangli Village, Zhengyi, Bacheng Town, protection level: not rated.
[Zhengyi Taiping Bridge] Taiping Bridge was first built in the early Qing Dynasty. Taiping Bridge is an ordinary single-span stone slab bridge with stone steps. The watch column and bridge railing are carved in one piece.
4. Wenkuizhai, Qing Dynasty, located in Shangtang Street, Zhengyi, Bacheng Town, protection level: not rated.
[Wenkuizhai Qingtuan] Zhengyi Wenkuizhai cake group shop is located in the north of the central bridge of Shangtang Street, Zhengyi Street. It was built in the late Qing Dynasty and is famous for making Qingtuan. It is one of the existing time-honored brands in Kunshan. In the 1920s, Shen Wenkui, the third-generation heir, improved the production process of the Youth League and made Zhengyi Youth League famous. A famous seasonal snack in Shanghai. Now Wenkuizhai Qingtuan is named "Jiangsu Famous Dian", and the production process of Qingtuan has been included in the Suzhou Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
5. Yilv Building, Qing Dynasty, located in Shangtang Street, Zhengyi, Bacheng Town, protection level: not rated.
[Yilv Building] used Zhengyi's cultural station and calligraphy base. After renovation in 2016, it is used for casual tea drinking.
6. Mo House, Qing Dynasty, located in Shangtang Street, Zhengyi, Bacheng Town, protection level: not rated.
7. Xie’s house, Qing Dynasty, located in Shangtang Street, Zhengyi, Bacheng Town, protection level: not rated.
8. Lu House, during the period of the Republic of China, located in Shangtang Street, Zhengyi, Bacheng Town, protection level: not rated.
9. Zhengyi Railway Bunker Group, during the Republic of China, located in Zhengyi Ancient Street, Bacheng Town, protection level: not rated.
[Zhengyi Railway Bunker Group] In 1932, the "January and February 8th" Songhu Anti-Japanese War broke out, and the 19th Route Army was ordered to retreat westward. The troops arrived in Zhengyi, and the headquarters was located in Zhengyi Primary School. After Army Commander Cai Tingkai retreated to Zhengyi, in order to snipe the Japanese invaders, several reinforced concrete bunkers were poured on both sides of the Zhengyi Railway Station on the Shanghai-Nanjing Railway in the south of Zhengyi and on both sides of the Zhengyi Railway Station in the south of Zhengyi. Later, the war with Japan ceased, and the bunker was not used. There are many bunkers in existence, the most visible ones are the two north and south of Zhengyi Railway Station. The bunker in the south, facing east, has a semi-elliptical shape, a hollow of about 6 square meters, a height of 4.5 meters, and three machine gun muzzles; the bunker in the north is hexagonal, with a hollow of about 4.9 square meters, a height of 1.8 meters, and the muzzle is very hidden. Suspected to be a bunker.
No. 35 Bingdilian Road, Kunshan City, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province