Jiangxi: a land of ancient civilization and a base of communism

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Jiangxi province is centered on the Gan River valley, which historically provided the main north-south transport route of south China. The corridor along the Gan River is one of the few easily traveled routes through the otherwise mountainous and rugged terrain of the south-eastern mountains.

This open corridor was the primary route for trade and communication between the North China Plain and the Yangtze River valley in the north and the territory of modern Guangdong province in the south. As a result, Jiangxi has been strategically important throughout much of China’s history.

After the fall of the Qing dynasty, Jiangxi became one of the earliest bases for the Communists and many peasants were recruited to join the growing people’s revolution. The Nanchang Uprising took place in Jiangxi on August 1, 1927, during the Chinese Civil War. Later the Communist leadership hid in the mountains of southern and western Jiangxi, hiding from the Kuomintang’s attempts to eradicate them.

In 1931, the Chinese Soviet Republic’s government was established in Ruijin, which is sometimes called the “Former Red Capital” or just the “Red Capital”. In 1935, after complete encirclement by the Nationalist forces, the Communists broke through and began the Long March to Yan’an.

The Land

Topographically, Jiangxi corresponds to the drainage basin of the Gan River, which runs northeastward in descending elevation from the southern tip of the province to Lake Poyang and the Yangtze in the north.

Mountains surround Jiangxi on three sides, with the Mufu Mountains, Jiuling Mountains, and Luoxiao Mountains on the west; Huaiyu Mountains and Wuyi Mountains on the east; and the Jiulian Mountains (九连山) and Dayu Mountains in the south. The southern half of the province is hilly with ranges and valleys interspersed; while the northern half is flatter and lower in altitude. The highest point in Jiangxi is Mount Huanggang in the Wuyi Mountains, on the border with Fujian. It has an altitude of 2,157 metres.

Jiangxi is bounded by the provinces of Hubei and Anhui to the north, Zhejiang and Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, and Hunan to the west.

The Meiling Pass is a broad and well-paved gap leading to Guangdong province.

Lying in the midst of a longitudinal depression between China’s western highlands and the coastal ranges of Fujian province, Jiangxi constitutes a corridor linking the province of Guangdong, in the south, with the province of Anhui and the Grand Canal, in the north.

Situated in the subtropical belt, Jiangxi has a hot and humid summer lasting more than four months, except in places with high elevation such as the Lu Mountains.

Jiangxi has an abundance of inland waterways. Most of the rivers flow diagonally, from east and west toward the centre, emptying into the Gan River and Lake Poyang; many are navigable.

Religion and Culture

Jiangxi also was a historical center of Chan Buddhism.

Near the northern port city of Jiujiang lies the well-known resort area of Mount Lu. Also near the city are the Donglin (East Wood) Temple and the Tiefo (Iron Buddha) Temple (铁佛寺), two important Buddhist temples.

Near the small city of Yingtan is the resort area of Longhushan, which purports to be the birthplace of Taoism and hence has great symbolic value to Taoists. The region has many temples, cave complexes, mountains and villages.

The Lushan National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

Pavilion of Prince Teng is located just west of Nanchang and is one of three famous pavilions south of the Yangtze River. This pavilion gained its reputation to a great extent because of a well-known poem called ‘Preface to Tengwang Pavilion’ by Wangbo, a reputable poet of the Tang Dynasty. Donglin Monastery is located at the foot of Lushan. It was built in 386 for the monk Hui Yuan (334-416), founder of the Pure Land sect of Buddhism. Hui Yuan spent many years translating Buddhist scriptures in this temple.

For nearly 2,000 years the people of Jiangxi lived under the pervading influence of Confucian culture. With village life rooted in intensive agriculture and government in the hands of the landlord-scholar-officials, the dynamics of society were regulated by Confucian ethics. Such a culture gave the province many famous people. Besides Tao Qian (a great Jin dynasty poet of the reclusive life), Zhu Xi (the Song dynasty Neo-Confucian philosopher), and Wang Yangming (the Ming philosopher), all of whom either taught or lived there, Jiangxi produced a full quota of statesmen during both the Song and the Ming dynasties.

Lushan Mountain

Jiangxi province is a showcase for natural beauty.

Mount Lushan is a wonderful summer resort with its lush mountains, enveloping clouds and mists, rapid streams and numerous deep pools and waterfalls. Mysterious and enchanting sceneries nestle in its secluded valleys and deep ravines.

Sudongpo, a well-known poet of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), in honor of the ‘Cloud Sea’ of Mt. Lushan for its ever – changing mist, wrote, ‘The failure to get a real perspective of the mountain only results in the fact that you are right in the midst of it’. Another mountain – Jinggangshan enjoys a dual reputation.

It is more widely known as the cradle of the Chinese revolution rather than for its natural beauty, which is, in fact, comparable to the more famous Lu Shan.

Jingdezhen – Town of Porcelain

The manufacture of porcelain ware, however, is the foremost activity of the province. During the reign of the Song emperor Zhenzong (997–1022), the town of Fouliang, in northeastern Jiangxi, was by imperial decree made a centre for fine porcelain. From that time on, Fouliang was known as Jingdezhen, for the imperial patron’s year title Jingde. For 10 centuries it has supplied the Chinese people with porcelain ware of all descriptions—ranging from items of daily use to artistic works of rare beauty made for the enjoyment of emperors and collectors.

Edited by staff

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