Suzhou hangs Spring Festival couplets on nine city gates

Jan 31, 2019|By

A pair of couplets, written by famous artist and calligrapher Yan Gongda, were hung on Xumen Gate in Suzhou City on January 29, ahead of the Spring Festival, China’s Lunar New Year.

Suzhou is among many Jiangsu cities to decorate the former city gates with usually large couplets for the Lunar New Year celebrations, an annual event that started in the provincial capital of Nanjing. Xumen Gate, a cultural relic under protection, was a part of city wall of Wu State during the Spring and Autumn period ((770 - 476 BC).

A native of Changshu, a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Suzhou, Yan is a professor at Tsinghua University, a supervisor for PhD students, a national first-class artist, and vice-chairman of Chinese Calligraphers Association.

Yan’s works have been selected for display in more than 500 national and international exhibitions and won distinguished awards for many times. He presented his calligraphy works on the first Chinese Language Day, held in UN headquarters in New York in 2010.

Yan said he’s happy to return to Suzhou after leaving the hometown for over 20 years. He also said hanging couplets is meaningful on least three perspectives.

Traditionally, people hang couplets on the sides of doors leading to their own homes. Now the old city walls are also flanked with couplets, which shows a unity of individual and collective in the harmonious and prosperous urban life. The decoration also reveals the roles of individuals in the broader society and under the globalization, so this practice can also promote the inheritance and development of Chinese culture. In addition, after 40 years of reform and opening up, China has greatly developed its economy and the society also made strides too. Now it’s time to advance the spiritual life and further promote cultural development in order to pay tribute to humanistic spirit of Chinese nation, formed in thousands of years.

Suzhou City has put up couplets on its nine historical city gates to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival, China’s Lunar New Year on February 5.

An innovative use of ancient city wall, couplets and calligraphy, which all play important roles in Chinese way of life, the event aims to create a new custom that blends tradition and modernity.

At the launching ceremony, the "Suzhou Ancient City Protection Proposal" was officially released, and more social forces were urged to participate in the protection and development of Suzhou. Volunteers also formed an association to protect the remains of the ancient city wall.

Organizers publicized its call for contribution of couplets at all kinds of media platforms and received over 10,000 pairs of couplets in a short period of time.

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