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Urban renewal revives Gunan Street Historical and Cultural Block

By Li Yingxue | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-04-22 23:21

Shushan Gunan Street historical and cultural block is nestled at the foot of Shushan Mountain, beside the tranquil Lihe River. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Nestled at the foot of Shushan Mountain, beside the tranquil Lihe River, Gunan Street in Yixing, Jiangsu province, whispers tales of a bygone era. Once the vibrant heart of zisha, or purple clay pottery production, this historic street pulsated with the creativity of artisans and the commerce of traders.

Today, after undergoing extensive protection and renovations, it has become a gathering place for a new generation of craftsmen, preserving the unique artistry of zisha pottery.

In April 2010, the Jiangsu provincial government officially recognized this area as the Shushan Gunan Street historical and cultural block. The district's layout, with the river encircling the mountain and the street running parallel to it, has preserved the essence of zisha pottery production, sales, and transportation since the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).

Chu Chengliang, vice-president of the Yixing folk cultural relics and artifacts association, explains that the preservation and restoration of this neighborhood were spearheaded by the government. They set the precedent by selecting five key areas, inspiring local residents to prioritize preservation and undertake necessary updates to their own homes, Chu explained.

"Local government regularly gather feedback and advice from the locals about how to maintain and improve the district," Chu added. "Then they review these suggestions at the end of the year to see what they've accomplished. This has really gotten people involved in sprucing up our neighborhood."

Today, the area is not just a place to study the history and culture of zisha pottery, it has become a lively community where artisans and zisha experts thrive. Many old houses along the street are now leased by craftsmen for pottery making and living, attracting lots of young talent.

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