Located at the southeast coastal line of China, Quanzhou, formerly known to the world as Zayton in the ancient times with reputation as the greatest port in the east, trading with more than 100 countries and reigns during 10th-14th centuries. In 1291, Venetian traveler Marco Polo visited Quanzhou and described: “one shipload of pepper that goes to Alexandria or elsewhere, destined for Christendom, there come a hundred such, aye and more too, to this haven of Zayton.” With its rich culture and history, Quanzhou was rewarded as the Cultural City of East Asia and recognized as World Mult-culture Exhibition Centre and World Religions Museum.
With a resident population of 8.58 million, Quanzhou is one of Fujian’s three pivotal cities and has jurisdiction over 13 counties (cities and districts) and covering an area of 110 thousand square kilometers. Quanzhou’s economy has been leading Fujian constantly for 18 years, the GDP of Quanzhou in 2016 reached 664.7 billion yuan. As a well-known hometown of overseas Chinese, there are around 9.48 million people who can trace their origin back to Quanzhou now living or working abroad in 130 countries and regions worldwide.
As a core area and cradle of Minnan (Southern Fujian) culture, Quanzhou is characterized by its distinctive and diverse cultural heritage, known as “Hometown of Traditional Operas”, “City of Puppet Shows”, and “City of Nanyin”, to name just a few. There are a total number of 824 cultural heritage sites under government protection at all levels. Among them, 31 sites are under the state protection. There are 431 items inscribed on the representative lists of intangible cultural heritage by various Chinese governmental levels. Including Nanyin and the Chinese traditional architectural craftsmanship for timber-framed structure were inscribed on the Representative List of Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Water tight bulk-head technology of Chinese Junks was inscribed on the List of Intangible Culture Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the training strategy of coming generation of puppetry practitioners was inscribed on the Register of Best Safeguarding Practice.
Scattered around Quanzhou Bay, the Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton) are a serial property related to the ancient maritime trade during the city’s heyday from the 10th to 14th century that have survived to this day, including Wanshou Pagoda, Liusheng Pagoda, Shihu Dock, Estuary Docks, Zhenwu Temple, the Kiln sites at Jinjiaoyi Hill of Cizao Kilns, Statue of Mani in Cao’an Temple, Luoyang Bridge, Qingjing Mosque, Islamic Tombs, Stone Statue of Lao Tze, Kaiyuan Temple, Tianhou Temple, Site of Deji Gate, the Confucius Temple of Quanzhou and Wind-praying Carvings at Jiuri Mountain. These historical remains witnessed to the city’s glorious maritime history and cultural exchanges between different civilizations worldwide, as well as to the historical status of Zayton as the greatest port in the east from the 13th to 14th century.
In the history of human civilization, there existed a route network of maritime transportation and trade that connected many nations and regions across the vast waters between the Western Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, using monsoon forces to guide navigation. As the most important channel of cultural and civilizational exchanges between the East and the West in ancient times, this route network is what we called the Great Maritime Routes. More than seven centuries ago, Marco Polo, a famous merchant of Venice, completed his great tour via the maritime routes. Today, like the WHS Venice and Its Lagoon at the western part of the maritime routes, Quanzhou, known as Zayton in the history, retains an abundance of historic remains representing both its maritime history and its diverse civilizations at the eastern part of the great maritime routes.
The nominated property of “Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” include multiple monuments and sites related to maritime trade and culture that have survived to this day from the Song and Yuan dynasties (10th-14th century) when ancient Quanzhou was known to the world as “Zayton”. With a property area of 101.14 hectares and total buffer zone of 581.82 hectares, these monuments and sites are distributed around Quanzhou Bay with Quanzhou City as the core, including 16 component parts. The whole series represent the navigation and trade system of Quanzhou, as a crucial port city of the world in the Song and Yuan Dynasties.
In terms of spatial layout, functions and technical features, the rich and diverse international and historic multicultural heritage, in an integrated and outstanding manner, the leading level of maritime transportation facilities, cultural exchanges and port construction achieved during the heydays of maritime civilization in the history of China, an empire that has long been an agricultural civilization. The nominated property also bear testimony to the historical position and maritime navigation and trade practices of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton) as the strategic port city in the East during the Song and Yuan dynasties as well as its social and cultural features developed through international exchanges. From various perspectives, these monuments and sites are, as a whole, to present the prosperous scene of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton) as a key international port along the Great Maritime Routes during the period from the 10th to 14th century.
The serial property bear testimony to the historical position and maritime navigation and trade practices of ancient Quanzhou as a strategic and prosperous port city and hub of economic and cultural exchanges between the East and the West during the period from the 10th to 14th Century. The major elements of seafaring history include unique ocean conception and the formation and spread of the worship of the sea god, the religious and cultural exchanges with the outside world and its integration and harmonious coexistence in Quanzhou, they are also directly associated with the significant events of Zheng He’s Treasure Voyages to the West and inextricably linked to the spread of Islam, Manichaeism, Hinduism and Nestorianism in coastal southeast China. They also appear in literary works such as the Travels of Marco Polo, Travels of Friar Odoric, Ibn Battuta’s Rihla, and ancient historical documents. These events, activities and documents had a great influence upon the history of China and even the world.
Administration Office for Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)
Other official institution
Quanzhou Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Press and Publication
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