A Night Mooring By Maple Bridge
Fengqiao Scenic Spot is famous for its 'five historical sites' including Hanshan Temple, Jiangfeng Bridge, Tieling Pass,Fengqiao Town and the Grand Canal. The town of Fengqiao, as well as the Fengqiao Scenic Spot, was named after Maple Bridge 枫桥. This old bridge, built next to the Grand Canal and spanning the Fengjiang River, was an inevitable spot for anyone who took the public road (post road) by it. Before the Tang dynasty, Maple Bridge was called Fengqiao 封桥 (literally, 'the bridge for road closure') for the then government set up a pass here to serve as an access point for merchants and ships. Every night after the city gate of Suzhou was closed, no ship would be allowed to sail on the canal. So, captains had to moor their ships by the bridge and wait till the dawn came. On some day after the An Lushan Rebellion of the Tang dynasty, when the poet Zhang Ji passed by Hanshan Temple and spent his night by the bridge on one of these ships, he drew inspiration from the scene and wrote the famous poem 'A Night Mooring by Maple Bridge'. The poem, attractively describing the moonset, the caws, the frost, the maples, the lights of fishing boats, and the boat and its lonely poet passenger, has made itself a name card of Suzhou and made famous the sites including Hanshan Temple, Jiangfeng Holm and the old town of Fengqiao (now known as Fengqiao Sub-District). And since the Sui and Tang dynasties, this old town by the canal has gradually developed from a small fair into a busy town. During the Song and Yuan dynasties, Fengqiao was famous for its fairs and shops. In the Qing dynasty, Fengqiao became the largest hub for rice and bean trade in China. Today, locals of the town still remember the saying that 'Compare the price of rice with that in Fengqiao, and you will never be cheated when you buy rice.' It was also in the Qing dynasty that the scales of Feng Hu 枫斛, a weighing instrument used by the rice traders in Fengqiao, became the national standard for weighing grain. On April 27, 1949, the first shot for the liberation of Suzhou city was fired in Tieling Pass. In the 1950s, a meander cutoff project was carried out for the tight bend of the Grand Canal’s Suzhou section, and thus a new holm, Jiangfeng Holm, was formed between the new course and the main canal.