Jiujang, Jaingxi, China

Truly a crossroads of change.

History:

In ancient times it was told that nine rivers converged near where Jiujiang sprang up to become Jiangxi’s main water port today. During the Xia through the Shang Dynasties Jiujiang was a capitol of several states. In the Spring & Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.E.) Jiujiang bordered between the sates of Wu and Chu.  Tao Yuan Ming (365-429 C.E.) a famous Chinese philosopher lived at the base of Lushan. He was once appointed magistrate of nearby Pengze County and after 83 days resigned due to the politics involved in administering justice. He retreated back to his village to pen an essay called Peach Flower Garden. In 757 Li Bai (701-762 C.E.) was implicated in An Lushan’s rebellion and imprisoned at Jiujiang. Bai Ju Yt (772-846 B.C.E.) wrote a poem called Lute Song, which is about his sadness and isolation of forced exile as a middle ranking official to reside in such a small town.  In the 13th century Zhu Xi was a Confucian philosopher who practiced at the White Deer Grotto on Mt. Lu's eastern flanks.

Jiujiang has also been known as Jiangzhou and Xunyang in former times. During the Tsin Dynasty (265-420 C.E.) it was known as Sin Yang, the Liang Dynasty (502-557 C.E.) it was called Kiang Chow. The Suy Dynasty saw its name as Kiukiang and the Song Dynasty (960-1127) called it Ting Kiang. The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), gave it Jiujiang which has retained its name to this day. It was a Taiping stronghold for five years (1850-64) after they devastated the town to only leave one street with buildings intact.

A member of Lord Elgin’s committee arrived in 1858 to survey Chinese ports for treaty status noted: “We found it to the last degree, deplorable. A single dilapidated street, composed only of a few mean shops, was all that existed of this once thriving populous city. The remainder of the vast area composed within its massive walls 9-10 kilometers in circumference, contained nothing but ruins, weeds and kitchen gardens.  After becoming an open treaty port in 1862, it was exporting Jiangxi’s vast rice crop. In 1904, more than 160,000 kilos of opium were moved through its customs house.  

It became one of the three centers of the tea trade in China along with Hankou and Fuzhou.  The Russians had two brick tea producing factories, but ceased operations after 1917. The British surrendered their concession in 1927 after being robbed and its Chinese workers mutineer their posts to the marauding crowds. An economic recession had set in over the decades as Indian and Chelonian teas made for greater competition.

A military advance was being staged upriver in Wuhan by a group known as the Gou Min Dang in 1927 and all the remaining expiate community fled on British and American warships towards safer waters of Shanghai, to never return. 

Chou Fu Tsz: A Mandarin's Grave by Carl F. Kupfer

 

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