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Su Causeway and Su Di Chun Xiao (Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring)

The Scene of Su Di Chun Xiao

Su Di Chun Xiao(苏堤春晓) in English literally means Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring. It is ranked the first among ten classic scenes of the West Lake. It also called Causeway of Lord Su is a broad levee crossing the whole scenic area of West Lake from south to north. Starting from the Nanping Hill in south to Qixia Peak in north, the whole causeway is approximately 3 kilometers long and the average width is 36 meters. In Northern Song Dynasty, Su Dongpo as the governor of Hangzhou city dredged up the west lake and built up a causeway with lake mud and marsh grass. Also, both sides of the causeway were planted the willow trees, peach trees, wistaria and lots of flowers and bushes. There are also six stone arch bridges with elegant names respectively in causeway, which are Yingbo Bridge, Suolan Bridge, Wangshan Bridge, Yadi Bridge, Dongpu Bridge and Kuahong Bridge. They are old but beautiful! The local of Hangzhou calls these bridges Liu Diao Qiao(Six Suspension Bridges, 六吊桥). Also in folk society, there is a themed song summarizing the landscape of Su Causeway: some willows, some peaches, west lake views on six suspension bridges.

The descendents named officially it Su Causeway in memory of Su Dongpo and his contributions to manage well the west lake. The whole long causeway like a rainbow lying on wave is connected with southern hills and northern hills, and it adds a unique landscape to West Lake. In Southern Song Dynasty, Su Di Chun Xiao was listed to be the top of ten classic scenes of West Lake. In Yuan Dynasty, it was also called Liu Qiao Yan Liu (Misty Willow of Six Bridges, 六桥烟柳) and listed into the Ten Scenes of Qiantang, obviously, it was traditionally loved by people in different generations. On the southern side of Wangshan Bridge, it is the royal stele pavilion, in which the inscription of “苏堤春晓” written by Emperor Kangxi in Qing Dynasty is well preserved. After 1949, the six bridges were reconsolidated and broadened, and the balusters were all decorated with the folk traditional patterns in carving style of Qingtian, but it still keeps the original look.

Wandering on the causeway, in the surroundings of the misty willows, cozy spring wind and birds’ song, visitor can touch the real sense of beauty from Su Di Chun Xiao. After a winter-long time, Su Causeway like a graceful spring messenger is the best place for visitors to appreciate the charm of West Lake in spring. Su Causeway. The picturesque view on both sides of the causeway really makes visitors travel in painting and romance.

Story of Su Causeway

Su Dongpo
The Portrait of Su Dongpo

In Northern Song Dynasty, the eminent poet Su Dongpo firstly came to Hangzhou as the local governor. He liked the landscape of Hangzhou very much and thought of West Lake as Xi Shi, one of top four most beautiful ladies in ancient China. Hence, he left his most famous poem about West Lake:欲把西湖比西子,淡妆浓抹总相宜.

But after 15 years, Su Dongpo re-acted as Hangzhou governor and found West Lake was deserted and sadly wrote a letter to superior authorities. In letter, he said: “West Lake is the eyes and eyebrows of Hangzhou”. He decided to learn from Bai Juyi, a famous poet and former governor of Hangzhou in Tang Dynasty, to do a good deed to Hangzhou. He ordered the followers to put up the notice of dredging up West Lake, but in the meantime he was troubled by a problem that how to stack the mud and rotten grass. If piling them up on the west side of West Lake, it would block the traffic and pollute the environment. If moving them away, it would be a waste of time and manpower. It annoyed Su Dongpo for a long time. One day, he decided to go to West Lake for investigation and thought about how to solve this problem. Su Dongpo rode horse with followers firstly arrived at Qixia Hill where the important route to Lingyin Temple and Tianzhu Temple. And obviously it was not the right place to stack the mud and grass, and then he moved to Jingci Temple and stood at Xiling Ferry and planned to boat to the opposite side. Suddenly, he heard a fisherman’s song from the willows:” the girls of southern hills and the boys of northern hills, they see each other from afar but show love closely quite hard. When is the magpie’s bridge available? Time for walking around lake will be thirty three.” On hearing this, Su Dongpo became quite joyful, because in his mind, the song inspired him and presented him the solutions---constructing a magpie’s bridge across the west lake. It would be the place collecting the mud and grass and facilitating the south-north traffic.

Su Dongpo was quite pleased and said:”Ok, let us visit the opposite side of lake”. At this time, a boat quickly appeared from willow trees, a young fisher standing at the head of boat and bowed himself to Su Dongpo:” Your lord, I have waited you for a long time, please go on board.” . Su Dongpo was quite amazed and happy and questioned him” how do you know I am on the lakeside?”. The young fisher answered respectfully:” I have heard you prepared to dredge up the west lake, and naturally you will investigate the west lake by yourself, so I wait here.” Su Dongpo said:” Good! Was the song sung by you just now?” the young man smiled and answered:” Yes, it is our wish.” Su Dongpo arrived to the opposite side and a boat appeared as well from willow trees as a song was sung:” the girls of southern hills and the boys of northern hills, their ages are both over 23. They love each other but are hard to utter. Niulang and Zhinv expect the causeway.” . Su Dongpo was in convulsions and said:” Excellent! The girls of southern hills and the boys of northern hills, let me build a causeway to bridge two sides to realize your love and marriage. ”. The news of building causeway spread quickly, and the fishermen living in near area came and expressed automatically that they were willing to join the construction free of charge. Su Dongpo said:” Thank you all, you have suffered the hardships of drought and flood for many years, and I have applied for governmental assistance. You will be paid in the form of rice!”. The residents got more excited and started the construction.

From summer to autumn, seven sections of causeway were completed, and there were also six watercourses among sections of causeway. Owing to the short of financial support, the bridges were not built temporarily. A woodman living on the northern side came up with a good idea: he cut a bunch of trees and made them into six hanging bridges for six watercourses to put the whole causeway into use. At daytime, the hanging bridges would be draw back to facilitate the fishing boats’ going and coming. At dark and dawn, the hanging bridges would be used for residents’ crossing the lake. It added a beauty to West Lake. The later people named it Su Causeway to commemorate Su Dongpo.

More About West Lake Scenic Area are Available>>>

Writer: David from Seeraa International
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