It’s a city known for its dreamlike scenery, its poetic and melancholy history and its culture. Suzhou, in east China’s Jiangsu, located in the lower reaches of the Yangtze and on the shores of Lake Tai, has already crossed a history over 2500 years.
Talking about Suzhou, people often mention the old saying: “’In Heaven there is paradise, below there is Suzhou and Hangzhou.” Suzhou is a city whose spirit is buried in the water. The water paths go from north to south, and east to west, forming nets or strings, leading to its nickname as “Venice of the East”. With the building of the Grand Canal that linked this area with Beijing in the north, Suzhou was strategically located on a major trading route. The city was also renowned for its ample fortunes and products in history.
By the 14th century, Suzhou had established itself as the leading silk-producing city in China. Many aristocrats, scholars and cultural figures were attracted to the city and constructed villas and garden retreats for themselves. There were over 100 gardens, large and small, in Suzhou. These gardens are looked upon as masterpieces of architecture, a fusion of nature, poetry and painting designed to ease, move or assist the mind.
This city is also known for its calligraphy. Many ancient masters are acclaimed as the remarkable pride of Suzhou. Lu Ji, composed the earliest existing calligraphy work “Pingfu Note” which traces from the Western Jin Dynasty some 1700 years ago. Zhang Xu of the Tang Dynasty some 1200 years ago was acclaimed the “God of Cursive Hand”. And Zhu Yunming and Wen Zhengming founded the most influential style of calligraphy during the Ming dynasty some 500 years ago. Suzhou has been acknowledged, officially, as a “City of Calligraphy” for its brilliant history to the domain, and as well for possessing a number of renowned followers in the modern days.