Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng


Shot by Ma Xuefeng. Edited by Ma Xuefeng. Subtitles by Edgar.

With 127 well-preserved ancient structures dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and the Republic of China (1912-1949), Cangcheng, an ancient city in Songjiang District, is extremely different from other ancient Chinese cities trapped by tourists as there are no restaurants or chain souvenir shops inside its old historic buildings.

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Fiona Li (right) and Shirlene Gu, wearing traditional Chinese one-piece dresses qipao, standing on the Dacang Bridge in the ancient city of Cangcheng in Songjiang.

Recognized as the city’s largest rice storage location and the starting point for water transport of grain to the capital during the Ming and Qing dynasties, Cangcheng is reverting to what it once was after an ongoing renovation project. .

The Ming Dynasty’s Dacang Bridge over the Shihe River offers a beautiful scene of looking back.

So far, renovations have been completed on 25 old residences and relics in the area, several of which are now open to the public. Highlights are: Songjiang Fabric Art Gallery, Zhang Family Grain Store Museum, Du Family Former Residence, and Zhang Ming Art Gallery.

Follow iDEALShanghai to explore the old residences and the exhibits inside.

Zhang Family Cereal Store Museum (张氏 米行)

If you want to enjoy the transportation of grain crops to Jiangnan, the areas south of the lower Yangtze River, you must not miss the Zhang Grain Store Museum. The utensils used for weighing, processing, cooking and storing rice are on display, while the history of Songjiang’s water transport system is also illustrated with a detailed introduction attached on the side to help you better understand the cultivation of rice. of Jiangnan.

Inside the museum, the most eye-catching view is the retro-style counter, with a classic wooden abacus on it. Behind the counter, a straw rain cape and a bamboo hat hanging on the wall, ancient objects that give the ideal illusion of time travel.

Different millstones (from small to large) are on display in the museum, letting you know how ancient people crushed their rice. In addition, there is a rice cake making service inside the museum – one of the local Songjiang specialties with red bean paste fillings.

Address: 71 Zhongshan Rd W., Songjiang District
Hours: 9 am-4pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday)

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Rice cakes filled with red bean paste are one of the local specialties of Songjiang.

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

A utensil for steaming rice is on display at the museum.

From the Family Old Residence (杜氏 雕花 楼)

Located at 266 Zhongshan Road W. and known as “Du’s Carved Building”, Du Family Old Residence is a typical Jiangnan Watertown residence with a four-row structure. It was built in the Qing Dynasty by a wealthy man nicknamed Du for his married daughter. Characterized by its exquisite wood and brick carvings, the historic building is of great artistic merit and great ambience. Most of its furniture features genuine antiques from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Each door panel, window frame and railing are intricately carved with detailed designs of animals, flowers or clouds. Through the windows, long vines hang along the wooden courtyard walls. The residence presents nearly 20 intangible cultural heritages, including Jiangnan sizhu (string and wind music) and Gu-style embroidery.

Cultural workshops are held here every month, such as folk music appreciation, shadow theater performances, and Chinese medicine lectures.

Address: 266 Zhongshan Rd W., Songjiang District
Hours: 9 am-4pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday)

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

The entrance to the former Du Family residence in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Vines descended from the roofs of the Old Residence Du Family

Songjiang Fabric Art Gallery (松江 布 展示 馆)

Besides grain transportation, old cotton fabrics are another important part of Songjiang’s cultural deposits. Once the center of the country’s cotton textile industry, Songjiang has enjoyed a worldwide reputation for its fabric manufacturing technology.

In the 19th century, Songjiang cotton fabric was even favored by the British royal family, as evidenced by the pants worn by the upper class English gentlemen of the time.

The brand new Songjiang Fabric Art Gallery reveals vintage fabrics that are not available in the market today.

Located in a former two-story residence, the gallery showcases different types and patterns of ancient Songjiang cotton fabrics, from purple cotton fabric made in the Qing Dynasty to Jiefang fabric from the 1950s.

There are also looms, spindle wheels and hand crank spinning machines on display in another workshop, which were used in rural household textile workshops in the past.

68-year-old Songjiang native Fang Yuehong taught iDEALShanghai reporters how to operate a loom in the workshop: hold it with one hand, step on the pedal, skillfully throw the shuttle on the loom and come back with the other hand.

“You have to train for years and I started learning to spin and weave on my own on my 14th birthday,” Fang said.

As the highlight of the gallery, ancient Songjiang cotton fabrics are made into different handicrafts, such as cheongsams, jackets, handbags, shoes, etc.

All handicrafts are for sale at affordable prices. A cheongsam costume costs around 1,200 yuan (US $ 174), while 200 yuan will get you a pouch with embroidery on it. The bestseller is a handmade doll made of old Songjiang fabrics, which has a blank face for you to draw eyes and lips.

Address: 203 Zhongshan Rd W, Songjiang District
Opening hours: 9 am-4pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday)

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Qipao, a traditional Chinese one-piece dress

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Songjiang Old Cotton Rag Handbags

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Looms are on display in the Fabric Art Gallery.

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

A sewing machine used by a tailor to make cotton crafts

Zhang Ming Art Gallery (张明 艺术馆)

A three-court residence dating from the Ming Dynasty along Zhongshan Road W. has been converted into the Zhang Ming Art Gallery.

Owner Zhang Ming is a renowned painter and professor at the Shanghai Visual Art Institute.

Zhang’s representative paintings, with beautiful ginkgo trees, fill the gallery. The painting designs are printed on many handicrafts, such as porcelain items, screens, silk scarves and fans.

In addition, there is an exhibition of traditional Chinese fans inside the gallery. Visitors are welcome to participate in Zhang’s fan workshop and paint a folding ginkgo fan – but don’t forget to make a reservation.

Address: 169 Zhongshan Rd W, Songjiang District
Hours: 9 am-4pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday)

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Zhang Ming, a renowned painter, is working on a painting of ginkgo in his gallery.

Explore the Songjiang culture in the ancient city of Cangcheng

Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

IDEALShanghai reporters and Zhang Ming (right) in the courtyard of the Zhang Ming Art Gallery

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