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The township of Zhenze

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2016-12-06

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Zhenze ancient town, located in Wujiang district of Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu province, also adjoins another famous water town, Nanxun of Zhejiang province, to the west.

The township of Zhenze

Fields of mulberry surround Zhenze town in Wujiang district of Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu province. [Photo/subaonet.com]

Zhenze was the birthplace of Suzhou's renowned silk industry around a thousand years ago. Lying beside Taihu Lake and with its layout of canals and streets running side by side, the town is also crisscrossed by ancient bridges.

The first reference to the ancient town in an official document came during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-256 BC), though it was another 1,500 years until the town was officially established with the name Zhenze, during the Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

Its silk industry gradually flourished and became famous nationwide, and climbed to the peak during Ming and Qing dynasties, when Zhenze accounted for some 33 percent of the silk products produced in China.

The industry went through several ups and downs over the centuries, but Zhenze has never lost its reputation as China's leading silk town.

The township of Zhenze

Skills of silk quilt in Zhenze town is listed as intangible cultural heritage of Suzhou. [Photo/subaonet.com]

In October 2016, Zhenze was included in a list of 127 towns to be designated China’s first batch of "specialized small towns", and the town's silk-related agriculture, industry and tourism are thriving.

The town's silkworm flower festival, when sacrifices are offered to the Goddess of Silkworms to ensure a successful silk harvest, is still held in Zhenze to this day.

The township of Zhenze

The ancient pagoda at Ciyun Temple witnesses the revived sericulture in Zhenze town. [Photo/subaonet.com]

Visitors can also appreciate the scenery of mulberry fields, take part in picking mulberry leaves and rearing silkworms, taste local snacks and experience the local folk customs

Besides its heritage as a silk town, Zhenzhe is also famous for its distinctive Su-style buildings, bridges, temples and traditional gardens, including the Ciyun Temple Tower built during the Three Kingdoms Period (AD 220-280); Shijian Hall, a private garden built in the 19th century by a wealthy local family; and Yuji Bridge, built in 1715 in commemoration of Yu the Great, the legendary Chinese ruler famed for his introduction of flood control.

The township of Zhenze
Ciyun Temple and Yuji Bridge [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The town's tea houses, black dried soybean curd (reportedly beloved by Emperor Qianlong (1711-99)), rice wine, Su-style mooncakes, and local desserts are also must-tries for anyone visiting Zhenze.

The township of Zhenze

Shijian Hall, a private garden built in the 19th century by local celebrity in Zhenze, the Xu family [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

More information: http://www2015.zhenze.com.cn/en/

Edited by Dominic Morgan

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