Imagine wandering in one of the ink-colored Jiangnan water towns: you see a young girl gently holding her cyan paper umbrella. She walks slowly in the midst of stone bridges and observes water flowing down the river shores.

In the region south of the Yangtze, this is a very common scene, especially in the Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces. For nearly 1000 years, these towns have been crucial trading hubs for the surrounding countryside.

Moreover, they possess an engaging history of architecture (dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties), food (some of the most delicious in China!), arts and culture. Nowadays, very few of the river towns still exist, yet they remain the favorite places for famous writers to find inspiration.

Fortress Besieged, one of the masterpieces of the twentieth century in China by Qian Zhongshu, was written based on the scenes and daily stories in a small river town near Suzhou.

Here, we will take a look into the elegant yet fascinating world of Jiangnan water towns. I will also introduce you some symbolic scenes that charm the talented writers and artists to go.



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Cindy Wu