In the twenty-ninth year of King Jing’s reign in the Zhou Dynasty (491 BC), King Fuchai of Wu built the Wa Palace for Xi Shi at Lingyan Mountain. Thousands of skilled craftsmen from all over the country and local vendors gathered at the foot of Lingyan Mountain, gradually forming an ancient street market called Shantang Street. King Fuchai received tribute of divine wood from the Yue state, and he expanded the Gusu Terrace. The wood that came from upstream had blocked the river port at the foot of the mountain for three years, from which Mudu (wood-blocked port) town got its name.
In the thirty-seventh year of Emperor Qin Shihuang’s reign (210 BC), Emperor Qin Shihuang traveled to the Wu region, stayed in Mudu, and visited the surrounding famous mountains and ancient towns. In the east of Wufeng Mountain, there is a large stone carving with the words “Qin Terrace,” which is said to be the place where Emperor Qin Shihuang visited during his eastern expedition.
During the reign of Emperor Jing of the Han Dynasty (154 BC), Zhu Maichen, who was already in his forties and still impoverished, lived in a small thatched cottage on the western side of Mudu town which is near a mountain. He would go up the mountain every day to chop firewood and sell it in Mudu town to support himself. He never forgot to read and study and would hide his books among the firewood to avoid ridicule. Finally, at the age of fifty, during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han, he was appointed as a middle-ranking official and gradually rose through the ranks to become the Governor of Kuaiji and the Chief Feudatory Officer, ranking among the nine ministers. The place where he lived was also named “Cangshu” (meaning “hidden books”).
In the sixth year of Emperor Ming of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (470 AD), Luwan, the Minister of Public Works, built a house at Lingyan Mountain as his private property, devoted himself to Buddhism, and converted his residence into a temple. In the fifteenth year of the Tianjian period of the Liang Dynasty (516 AD), the eminent monk Zhi Ji from the Western Regions came to Lingyan Mountain Temple, and the temple was given the name “Zhi Ji Bodhisattva Manifestation Dharma Realm”.
In the first year of the Baoli period of the Tang Dynasty (825 AD), Bai Juyi served as the Governor of Suzhou and traveled to the ancient town of Mudu and the surrounding famous mountains. On Tianping Mountain, he left behind a famous poem that says, “On Tianping Mountain, there is a White Cloud Spring. The clouds are originally without intention, and the water is naturally serene. Why does it rush down the mountain? It only adds ripples to the world”.
During the fourth year of the Qingli period of the Song Dynasty (1044 AD), Fan Zhongyan, due to the location of his ancestors’ tombs, requested to change “Baiyun An” on Tianping Mountain to the “Gongde Xianghuo Yuan” (the Monastery of Virtuous Deeds and Fragrant Offerings) of the Fan family. Tianping Mountain was renamed “Ci Shan” and became known as the “Fan Tomb Mountain”. Two years later, for the reconstruction of Yueyang Tower, Fan Zhongyan wrote a famous line, “First worry about the country’s troubles, and later enjoy the country’s happiness” which has become a famous saying for generations.
During the fourth year of the Huangyou period of the Song Dynasty (1052 AD), the first skew bridge was built at the eastern end of Shantang Street. The clear water of Xiangxi and the muddy water of Xujiang River converge under the bridge, creating one of the ten scenic spots of the ancient town, known as “Skew Bridge Dividing Waters”.
During the fourth year of the Chunxi period of the Song Dynasty (1177 AD), the Han Qi King’s tomb stele was erected at the foot of Lingyan Mountain, and Emperor Xiaozong inscribed the title “Monument to the Meritorious Statesmen for Assisting in the Revival and Establishing the Nation”. The stele is over ten meters high, with a text length of over 13,000 characters, and is known as the “Number One Stele in the World”.
During the fifth year of the Shaoxi period of the Song Dynasty (1194 AD), the skilled artist Yuan Yuchang in Mudu specialized in clay sculpture. His sculptures were lifelike and gained great fame. People of that time called him the “Number One in the World”.
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