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Chengdu, an Ancient and Modern City (II)

The Land Ocean Tian Fu

The History of Huayang State · Shu Chronicles carries out a compliment about Chengdu. The compliment, which dates from the Han and Jin dynasties, says, “The fertile fields extend a thousand li and look like a land ocean.” People in ancient times thought that the ocean contained everything, and Chengdu was just like an ocean on land. The same book also presents the records quoted from the document dating from the Qin and Han dynasties. It says, “Because human beings control floods and droughts, people have no taste of famine, and no lean year occurs. This saying generally refers to Tian Fu.” Originally Tian Fu is the Heaven storehouse in which there are piles of numerous rare treasures.

Chengdu has been crowned with the laurel of Tian fu zhi guo (the land of abundance or the state of Tian Fu). However, during the Warring States Period the land of Tian Fu covered both Hanzhong plains and Bashu area. By the Eastern Han Dynasty, the Tian Fu referred to Shu area, and Hanzhong plains was called Jin Shu (Near Shu) instead. The Long Zhong Plan written by Zhu Geliang specially referred Shu, for the first time, to the state of Tian Fu. In 2007, Chinese National Geography held a nation-wide appraisal activity to choose the top ten “New Tian Fu,” which made an exciting stir. As a result, the Chengdu Plains came in first again through the appraisal.

Fine Food and Leisure City

At the beginning of 21st century Chengdu is turning to be more open now. As tourists at home and abroad make tour of Chengdu, they couldn’t help making varied compliments in the state of their pleasant tour intoxication. One of the compliments says “the city that once you have visited you never want to leave.” Sichuan food in Chengdu has been well-known for a long time. In addition, the tea culture is prevailing and local daily life is leisurely relaxed. Peasant Household Entertainment and Sightseeing originally started in Chengdu, thus number of Chengdu’s new titles came into being like “a fine food city,” “a leisure city” and so on.

The Mysterious City

The cultural relics, unearthed at San Xing Dui Ruins, have triggered varied issues about the civilization of the ancient Shu kingdoms. In 2002, the “Sun Bird,” made in gold foil, and other cultural objects were excavated from the Jin Sha Ruins, the northwest of Chengdu. Because the art of these objects is of a very high level, it has further initiated a deep and sacred respect for the civilization of the ancient Shu kingdom. Moreover, the Chengdu plains happen to be at latitude 30º N where the world’s four major ancient civilized countries, including China, India, ancient Babylon and Egypt, burst out the splendor of civilizations in the earliest ancient times. It is also at latitude 30º N where some mysterious objects and phenomena emerged. These include groups of Pyramids of ancient Egypt, the Sphinx, the frescos of “fire god and seed” in the driest Sahara Desert of North Africa, Bermuda Triangle in the Caribbean Sea, and the “garden in the sky” of ancient Babylon. For this reason Chengdu has another name called the Mysterious City at Latitude 30º N.

Major Historical Events

Well-Known City in the Country

Based on archaeologically unearthed relics and other ancient documents, scholars have confirmed that the roots of Chengdu’s civilization can be traced back over 4,500 years, the location of the city has remained unchanged for more than 3,000 years and it has been recognized as a city for around 2,300 years. In the Han Dynasty Chengdu was one of the five largest commercial cities in the whole country. In the Tang and Song dynasties the city was known as “Yi Zhou (Chengdu) Second Only to the City of Yang Zhou,” and “the First Famous City in China.” In the Han and Tang dynasties Chengdu remained as one of the top cities in the whole country.

Five Dynasties of Ancient Shu Kingdoms

The Chengdu Plains were the place where the ancient Shu culture grew, ancient Shu cities and towns developed, and ancient Shu states emerged. According to legend, there were five Shu kings by the names of Can Cong, Bo Guan, Yu Fu, Du Yu and Kai Ming who came to the throne in succession. Actually they were five major tribes that relied on different economical means. They existed respectively from the fishing and hunting era to the period of agro-farming and residence on the plains. The Can Cong tribe lived in “stone caves on the Mount Min Shan.” The Bo Guan and Yu Fu tribes arrived on Chengdu Plains. They traveled far and wide, looking for their final settlement. Gradually the migrating tribes took up their residence, and the places where they lived turned to be villages, and furthermore, these villages developed to be towns or even cities. By the Du Yu Period, the tribes turned to be a large state, with its territory that covered the land of Shu area. When the fifth King of the Kai Ming Dynasty (or the ninth King of the same Dynasty) came into power, he established a capital on the present base of Chengdu urban district.

King Kai Ming Moves His Capital to Chengdu

According to legend, the fifth King of the Kai Ming Dynasty (or the ninth King of the same Dynasty) removed his capital to Chengdu because of his dream in which his city wall moved away. Based on archaeological excavation, the period of the unearthed 3,000-years-old Jin Sha Ruins occurred after the San Xing Dui Ruins. This discovery has provided with real evidence confirming the legendary removal of the capital to Chengdu. In 2000 a large-scale boat-shaped coffin graveyard was discovered in the Shang Ye Street of Chengdu. This graveyard belonged to the Kai Ming royal families at that time in the early Warring States Period. It indicates that the Kai Ming capital had been already located on the present base of Chengdu urban district. The Kai Ming Dynasty continued through 12 kinghood generations before it was destroyed by the Qin State.

The Qin State Conquered Ancient Shu Kingdom

In 316 B.C internal disorders occurred in the Shu Kingdom. The Shu king sent his troops to go on a punitive expedition against Marquis Ju. Ju fled to the Ba Kingdom. Then the Shu king sent his troops to attack the Ba Kingdom. The latter asked the Qin State for help. So King Hui of the Qin made use of this opportunity. He sent two generals, Zhang Yi and Shi Macuo, to attack the Shu Kingdom that died out and disappeared from then on. The kingdom’s descendants moved southward and established a state by the name of Wen Lang in the present north of Vietnam and the state king was called King An Yang.

Zhang Yi Builds Walls

Five years after the Qin State destroyed the Shu Kingdom in 33 B.C., Zhang Yi and Zhang Ruo began building walls around Chengdu. According to accurate records, it is considered as the beginning of Chengdu city construction, and as a city it has lasted for around 2,300 years. In addition, Zhang Yi and Zhang Ruo built another two towns in Pi Cheng and Lin Qiong. The towns were slightly small in scale and were in a triangle position with Chengdu.

Gong Sunshu Proclaims Himself Emperor

After Wang Mang usurped the Liu family’s throne and established a new dynasty, Gong Sunshu, an official who garrisoned Western Shu area, proclaimed himself emperor in 25 B.C. and started setting up a feudal separatist rule in Chengdu. He used “Long Xing” (the revitalization of the dragon) to be his reign title and “Cheng” to be his national name. The regime lasted for 12 years and then it was defeated by Emperor Guang Wu of the Han Dynasty.