The Culture of Ningbo: A Reader
Ningbo has a history featuring seafaring and urban development. More than 7,000 years ago, primitive people in Ningbo formed the Hemudu Tribe with marine life features as the settlement was close to the East China Sea. They used oars and built ganlan-type farm houses with wood stem-columns. Some 2,000 years ago, Ningbo, known as the county of Mao, received many overseas merchants. That was why the place got the name of Mao (which literally means Trade). For over 1,000 years, Ningbo has been an important port city open to foreign trade, thus having cultured friendship with many peoples. In early 1980s, Ningbo started its transformation into a modernized port city, and established trade relationship with more than 100 countries and overseas regions. It has forged close ties with the rest of the world on the way of social and economic progress and advancement.
1.1 Jurisdiction System in History
7,000 years of civilization
Located along the bank of the Yaojiang (or the Yao River), 20 kilometers west of downtown Ningbo, is Hemudu Village of Yuyao, facing Ningbo Plain on one side and Siming Mountains on the other and enjoying a picturesque view. It is where Hemudu Site is situated, which is one of China’s most ancient Neolithic sites unearthed in 1973.
Covering about 40,000 square meters, the Hemudu Culture Site has over 7,000 relics unearthed, including stone artifacts, bone artifacts, wood wares and pottery, as well as grains and fruits. Archaeological findings suggest the site has a history of over 7,000 years. All the cultural relics show that Ningbo was one of the first places in the world in rice cultivation, suggesting that like Yellow River Basin, Yangtze River Basin is another cradle of the splendid Chinese civilization. They also testify to the fact that Ningbo people, having lived and worked in the land for thousands of years, survived all hardships and created a history of splendor with their diligence and wisdom.
According to Record of Ningbo, back in the Xia Dynasty (2,000 B.C.), there was a Jinzi State after the name of Chijin Mountain, and later, it was designated as the Yin Country. That was how Yinzhou (now a district of Ningbo) got its name. In the Spring and Autumn Period (770B.C.-476.B.C.), Ningbo was part of the Yue State, but later the Yue State was disintegrated after a war staged by the Chu State. It thus became part of Chu’s jurisdiction.
In 222 B.C., after Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of Qin (259-210 B.C.), conquered the Chu State, Kuaiji Prefecture was established. Yinzhou of Ningbo used to be part of the prefecture, together with Mao and Gouzhang. The three counties were not situated where the current downtown Ningbo is, nevertheless they were bordered by Yuyao River, Fenghua River and Yong River respectively. The Yin County (now Yinzhou District), which was to the south of the three rivers, included the southeastern part of Fenghua and the southwestern part of Yin County today. The county seat was at Baidu of Fenghua. The Mao County, which was at the east, included today’s Jiangdong District and Dongxiang Township, with county seat at Tonggu of Maoshan. The Gouzhang County was to the northwest of the three rivers, including today’s Jiangbei, Cixi and Yuyao, with county seat at Chengshan.
From the Western Han and Eastern Han Dynasties, Ningbo’s jurisdiction system remained unchanged. In 621, the court of the Sui Dynasty established the Governor’s Palace of the Yue Prefecture in Ningbo, governing 11 counties and the above three counties were made part of the Yin County, with the county seat at Sanjiangkou (the Three-River Junction) of Ningbo. In 625, Yinzhou and Gouzhang Counties were repealed while Mao County was restored and it moved to Xiaoxi, or what is known as Yinjiang Bridge of Yin County. In 627, the central government of the Tang Dynasty divided the territory into 10 Daos (prefectures), among which the Jiangnan Dao (South of the Yangtze River) was where Mao County was situated.
Ningbo, Abbreviated as Yong
Yong standing for Ningbo was a popular name in the Zhou Dynasty as the major waterway of Ningbo was the Yong River (Yongjiang River), which got its name from the Yong Mountain. Located at the junction of Yin County and Fenghua County, Yong Mountain takes on the shape of a bell. As such, the river down the mountain is called the Yong River (or Yongjiang River) and the area the Yong.
Mingzhou Named after Siming Mountains
Ningbo was known as Mingzhou in ancient times, which was named after Siming Mountains. In 738, Ningbo was divided into Cixi, Fenghua, Wengshan (Dinghai County today) and Mao County by the Tang government. The prefectural seat of Mingzhou and the county seat of Mao remained in Xiaoxi, while the county seat of Cixi was at Cicheng of today’s Jiangbei District, that of Fenghua County was at western Daqiao Town, and that of Wengshan County moved from coastal Xuhe to the foot of Aoshan Mountain ( literally Dragon-turtle Mountain).
Mingzhou was changed into Yuyao Prefecture by Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang in 742. In 758, the name was changed back to Mingzhou. In 764, Emperor Daizong of the Tang put Xiangshan County under Mingzhou’s jurisdiction, bringing the total number of counties to five. When Xianzong reigned, Wanghai Town was set up from eastern Mao County to Yong River seaport. In 821, Emperor Muzong had the prefectural seat of Mingzhou moved from Xiaoxi to Sanjiangkou (the Three-River Junction). During the Five Dynasties, Mingzhou was known as Mingzhou Wanghai Prefecture, with Yin County, Cixi, Fenghua, Wenshan and Wanghai under its jurisdiction. In 960, Emperor Taizu of the Song changed Mingzhou Wanghai Prefecture to Mingzhou Fengguo Prefecture with Yin County, Cixi, Fenghua, Dinghai, Xiangshan, Changguo under its jurisdiction. In 1194, Guangzong raised the status of Mingzhou Fengguo Prefecture to Qinyuan Prefecture. In 1276, the prefecture was upgraded into Qinyuan Province by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang of the Yuan Dynasty.
How Ningbo Got its Name
The origin of the name Ningbo could date back to 1381, when a scholar named Shan Zhongyou who lived to the west of the Wanshou Temple was summoned by the Emperor to Nanjing to produce poems as he was a very talented poet and was appreciated by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. Shan said to the emperor, “I believe it inappropriate to call it Mingzhou Prefecture because Ming is the name of our country.” Zhu responded by saying, “What you said makes sense. Since there is Dinghai (Peaceful Sea), why not change Mingzhou to Ningbo (Peaceful Waves).” That was how the name Ningbo has been used to refer to the city for over 600 years.
In the Qing Dynasty, Ningbo Prefecture was used. In 1687 when Emperor Kangxi reigned, Dinghai was used to name a county on Zhaoshan Islands, and the Dinghai county of Ningbo Prefecture was renamed Zhenhai County.
In Republic of China period (1912-1949), Ningbo Prefecture was replaced in name by the Yin County.
When Ningbo was liberated on May 5th, 1949, Ningbo city was established as a provincially administered municipality. Ningbo, as the second governmental office in Zhejiang, had Yin County, Yuyao, Cixi, Zhenhai, Fenghua, Dinghai and Xiangshan under its jurisdiction. In 1952, Ninghai County, which was previously part of Taizhou, became part of Ningbo. In 1962, Dinghai County was separated from Ningbo to form the Zhoushan Prefecture. In 1958, Zhenhai and Yin were included in Ningbo Municipality. In July 1983, municipally-affiliated county system was introduced and the prefectural administrative office repealed. Yin County, Yuyao, Cixi, Fenghua, Xiangshan, Ninghai were put under the jurisdiction of Ningbo Municipality. In April, 1984, Ningbo Municipality was made one of the 14 port cities opened up to international economic operations by the State Council. The same year, Haishu District and Zhenmin District were integrated as Haishu District. Jiangdong and Jiangbei Districts were expanded. Zhenhai County was divided to form Zhenhai District and Beilun District. In July 1985, Yuyao became a municipality upon the approval of the State Council. In October 1988, Cixi and Fenghua counties were also made county-level municipalities. In 2002, Yinxian County was repealed and was incorporated into Ningbo as one of its municipal district.
1.2 Enceinte Construction
The construction of Ningbo’s enceinte can date back to the East Jin Dynasty (317-420). In 400, Jin’s general Liu Laozhi built the enceinte to deter Sun En rebels. At that time, only earth walls were built along Sanjiangkou (the Three-River Junction), defended by station troops on three sides of the river. This was the rudiment of Ningbo’s enceinte. It is recorded in Qian Dao Tu Jing (a book of maps) that rampart foundation can be found outside the west city, on top of which grow some small bamboos. The walls are called Xiaoqiang (short bamboo walls), which is the site of the present Xiaoqiang Lane.
In 821 when Emperor Tang Muzong reigned, Han Cha, prefectural governor of Mingzhou, had Mingzhou capital site moved from Xiaoxi to Sanjiangkou, where an urban area was built as the governor office site encircled by a wall of about 1500 meters. The current Gulou(the Drum Tower), located by the Zhongshan Road, is the south gate of the wall.
In late Tang Dynasty, Huang Cheng, who was the prefectural governor of Mingzhou, found that citizens were constantly subject to thieves and burglars because there was no city wall in place in the precariously situated area of Mingzhou. For that reason, he called upon the general public to build a spectacular city wall of 9 kilometers. The grand landscape was recorded in the tomb tablet inscription of Gocernor Huang Sheng, that before Govermor Sheng took office, there was no urban land layout and houses spread irregularly. Governor Sheng built the grand city, protecting people and fending off invaders.
The city wall was not demolished until in 1928.
1.3 The Trading Port
Ningbo is located by the coast of the East China Sea and at the southeastern corner of the Yangtze River Delta. As a city that faces the sea with soil fertility and flat landscape, Ningbo is a cradle of Chinese ship-building and shipping industry and also an important port for foreign trade in China.
Seafaring and port use of Ningbo can be traced back to Hemudu Neolithic Period (7,000 years ago). At Hemudu site, 6 wooden oars, a porcelain model boat and several fish osseous remains were unearthed, testifying to the fact that Ningbo was capable of building ships 7,000 years ago. It is recorded in the Book of Zhou that during the rign of Zhou Chengwang, or King Cheng of the Zhou Dynasty (1024-1005 B.C.) Kingdom Yue presented boats as tribute to the King of Zhou. During the Warring States Period (312 B.C), according to Zhu Shu Ji Nian (Bamboo Annals) Kingdom Yue again had boats presented to the Kingdom Wei as gifts. According to historians, these ships must have been well-equipped big sea boats as they had to go through long sea journeys to arrive at the political centers of Kingdom Zhou and Kingdom Wei.
Ningbo was referred to as Mao (Trade) because local residents were often engaged in foreign trade. Later thriving business there prompted Mao to be upgraded to Mao County. As recorded in Annals of Yin County, “Mao was reputed for seafood. After seafood trade was expanded, hence the name of Mao County (the county of trade).” In 210 B.C., Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty(259-210 B.C.), came to Mao County and stayed here for over 30 days during his southern tour. He ascended the Kuaiji Mountain and engraved characters in a stone according to A Collection of Lu Shilong. Why did he come? Also according to a local document, he climbed atop Kuaiji Mountain to inscribe heroic acts on rocks as a way of remembering them. The legend has that Xu Fu, also named Xu Shi, a noted warlock at that time, submitted a letter to the king which said that at sea were Penglai and Yingzhou, where immortals lived. They required offerings of boys and girls. As a result, thousands of boys and girls were sacrificed for the sake of meeting the immortals. Xu Fu departed from Dapeng Mountain of Cixi, Ningbo, for Japan, there he stayed for many years and won great respect as he brought Chinese culture to Japan. This story shows that even at that time, Ningbo’s shipping industry was quite developed. During the Three Kingdoms Dynasties, Ningbo served as an important military port, as recorded in the Shih Chi (Records of the Grand Historian), which says that the Lord of Dongyue rebelled, and General Yang Pu was sent to bring him to justice. General Yang sent Han Shuo to go overseas to contact Yizhou and Tanzhou (Taiwan and Japanese islands). The same story was told in San Guo Zhi (The History of Three Kingdoms), which says in 230 B.C when Emperor Wu reigned, General Wei Wen was sent to Yizhou and Tanzhou with 10,000 army men.
In the Tang Dynasty, Ningbo enjoyed high-level international trade. “Foreign businessman and ships came one after another”, recorded Ningbo Annals. Celadon wares and silk fabrics that were produced in Ningbo were sold far overseas covering over 20 countries including Japan, Korea, Southeast Asian countries and regions. The trade spike in Ningbo put the city on a par with Yangzhou and Guangzhou as the third largest foreign trade port nationwide.
In 990, the first year of Chunhua period (the Song Dynasty), Ningbo set up an agency called Shibosi administering foreign trade and tariff. There were only three such agencies in China at that time, with the other two at Guangzhou and Hangzhou respectively. In the meantime, Ningbo was among China’s top three ports, together with Quanzhou and Guangzhou, particularly in the Southern Song Dynasty as Ningbo is close to the then capital Lin’an (today’s Hangzhou), so foreign trade was taken all the more important then.
In the Yuan Dynasty, Ningbo remained a major shipping and foreign trade port. At that time, offices for foreign shipping were set up in Ningbo (then Qingyuan), Quanzhou, Shanghai and Ganpu.
By the mid-Ming Dynasty, Ningbo remained an important port for foreign trade, with complete set of agencies for foreign trade including taxation, warehouse management, promotion, and guesthouses. But in 1523, Ningbo was ransacked by Japanese samurais amid the so-called Zhenggong Incident, a row between two Japanese trade groups, during which two famous but rival Japanese samurai groups sent their trading boats to Ningbo, one of which received unfair treatment at the customs which was bribed by the other trading group. In revenge, it killed and pillaged and created great losses to Ningbo. This event together with the subsequent ting of Japanese pirates created tensions for Ningbo and destroyed the necessary social environment for trade in Ningbo. As a result, the Ming Dynasty government ordered the closure of the agencies and thus foreign trade came to a halt.
In 1685, at the beginning years of the Qing Dynasty and under the reign of Emperor Kangxi, customs was set up in Ningbo and hence foreign trade resumed. But in 1757 under the reign of Emperor Qianlong, the government followed the policy of self-seclusion, and foreign trade ban was imposed. On August 29th , 1842, After the Opium War ended, the Qing Dynasty government was forced to sign up the Treaty of Nanjing, and Ningbo was listed among the five ports opened up to foreign trade, besides Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou and Shanghai. Then foreign countries came one after another to set up consulates and their agents gradually controlled Ningbo customs and monopolized foreign trade. This situation remained unchanged until the founding of PRC in 1949.