Gateway to Maritime Silk Road


Changsha, more than a hub of entertainment!

BY :丝路云帆

UPDATED :January 10, 2020


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Nowadays on Chinese New Year Eve, more and more young Chinese people prefer to stay home watching online shows with family and friends, as several provincial-level TV channels broadcast New Year shows live.

Hunan TV's countdown show, a singing and dancing gala that involves the audience online in the New Year celebrations, has remained the most viewed TV program in the past few years.

Hunan Broadcasting System is China's largest television after China Central Television(CCTV). It headquarters in Changsha, capital city of Hunan province (abbreviated as Xiāng in Chinese) and produces some of the most popular programs in China, helping to develop the city into a hub of entertainment.

But Changsha has more than entertainment. With a history of more than 3,000 years, Changsha was the capital of Changsha Kingdom in the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220AD), and the capital of the Chu State (907–951AD) in the Ten Kingdoms period.

As the cradle of Chu civilization and Xiang Chu culture, Changhsha is abundant in historical sites and relics.

More than 3,000 large and medium-sized Chu tombs from the Warring States Period(475 B.C-221B.C) have been discovered, revealing a large number of historical remains including bronze ware, ancient weapons, iron products and pottery, which indicates that handicraft industry in Changsha had reached a high level at that time.

Mawangdui is an archaeological site located 22 kilometers east of Changsha. The site consists of two saddle-shaped hills and houses the tombs of three people from the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC–9AD): Marquis Li Cang, his wife and a male believed to be their son.

Numerous highly regarded artifacts, the lacquered wine bowls and cosmetic boxes in particular, showcased the craftsmanship of the regional lacquerware industry. Silk funeral banners, along with a wealth of classical texts, are also found with high historical value.

The Yuelu Academy is located on the east side of Yuelu Mountain in Changsha, on the west bank of the Xiangjiang River. 

As one of the four most prestigious academies over the last 1,000 years in China, Yuelu Academy has been a famous institution of higher learning as well as a centre of academic activities since its establishment during the Northern Song Dynasty(960-1127A.D).

Benefiting from a complete water system, Changsha had played an indispensable part in the development of the ancient Maritime Silk Road. Xiangjiang River is the main river in the city, with 15 tributaries including Liuyang River, Laodao River, Minjiang River, and Qinshui River, which formed a fairly large water system.

Through the convenient waterways, local traders were able to reach China’s coastal port cities, like Guangzhou, Yangzhou and Shanghai, where they set sail with Chinese goods for overseas countries through the ancient Maritime Silk Road.

The major exports in Changsha were porcelain produced in the Tongguan Kiln of Changsha, or Changsha Kiln, an important kiln area situated in the city during Tang Dynasty(618-907A.D).

Changsha Kiln had its heyday between late Tang Dynasty and Five Dynasties(907-979 A.D), but declined afterwards. The kilns are noted for its rich and varied decorations on porcelain products, including poems, proses, advertisements, inscriptions, flowers and birds.

Its porcelain products included molded figures, pots, jars and dishes of all shapes and decorations. A short-spouted ewer with a globular body and a straight neck represents a typical product of Changsha Kiln.

During the Tang Dynasty, these products of Changsha Kiln found their way to over 29 different countries and regions. They were great contributors to the spread of Chinese ceramic culture, and crucial witness to the prosperous sea trade in ancient China.