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Cradle of history and culture

SONGJIANG District in southwest Shanghai has always been popular with visitors seeking insight into the city's history.

Considered the cradle of Shanghai, Songjiang contains important historical relics and represents strong cultural heritage.

About 4,000 years ago, Shanghai's earliest residents migrated from the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River to escape a flood, and settled in the Guangfulin Village in what is now Songjiang District.

The Guangfulin archeological site, with a 60-hectare park, contains evidence of the earliest habitation. A museum is planned and its most prominent exhibition hall offers a refuge from the hectic city.

On top of Sheshan West Hill (the highest geological pint in Shanghai) is the Sheshan Catholic Cathedral, the Shanghai Observatory and Astronomical Museum.

The first church was built in 1863 and later rebuilt and expanded by French missionaries. It was known as the Basilica of St Mary and was the largest cathedral in East Asia at one time. Originally designed in the Baroque style, it later incorporated many styles and was partly built using traditional Chinese construction methods. The red-brick church underwent major expansion that lasted for 10 years, completed in the mid-1930s.

Songjiang District is famous for intangible cultural heritage and folk crafts, such as painting, paper cutting, screen printing and grass dragon dance.

Gu embroidery and ping fu tie are two most prominent heritage in Songjiang.

Gu embroidery is one of China's most magnificent traditional crafts and it was so-named because it originated the household of the Gu family. For hundreds years, descendants have practiced the craft, splitting one silk thread into finder strands to stitch traditional patterns of birds, goldfish and flowers.

It is said that the silk used in Gu embroidery is thinner than human hair, the embroidered lines are as fine as soft, long hair and the colors are ingenious and subtle.

Some Gu embroidery masterpieces are displayed in the Forbidden City.

Ping fu tie, a master calligraphy work, is considered one of the Forbidden City's most important treasures. It has been given the No. 001 label.

It was a letter written by Lu Ji, a literature master in the Western Jin Dynasty (AD 265-316), to one of his friends who had been diagnosed with a disease.

Containing 84 characters, ping fu tie was written in zhang cao, a style of cursive writing developed from the li shu script. This style exerted a big influence on the development of Chinese calligraphy in the following centuries.

Lu is said to be a Songjiang native. The masterpiece was donated by Zhang Boju in 1956.


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