Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Su-chow

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SU-CHOW. There are in China three cities of this name which deserve mention. (1) Su-chow, formerly one of the largest cities in the world, and still in 1880 credited with a population of 500,000, in the province of Kiang-su, on the great Imperial Canal, 55 miles west-north-west of Shanghai. The site is practically a cluster of islands to the east of Lake Tai-hu, and streams and canals give communication with most parts of the province. The walls are about 10 miles in circumference and there are four large suburbs. Su-chow is a great commercial and manufacturing centre, the silk manufacture being represented by a greater variety of goods than are produced anywhere else in the empire; and the publication of cheap editions of the Chinese classics is carried to great perfection. There is a Chinese proverb to the effect that to be perfectly happy a man ought to be born in Su-chow, live in Canton, and die in Lian-chow. The great nine-storied pagoda of the northern temple is one of the finest in the country. In 1860 Su-chow was captured by the Taipings, and, when in 1865 it was recovered by the valour and enterprise of General Gordon, the city, which had formerly been famous for its large and handsome buildings, was almost reduced to a heap of ruins. Of the original splendour of the place some idea may be gathered from the beautiful native plan on a slab of marble preserved since 1247 in the temple of Confucius and reproduced in Yule's Marco Polo, vol. i. Su-chow was founded in 484 by Ho-lu-Wang, whose grave is covered by the artificial “Hill of the Tiger” in the vicinity of the town. The literary and poetic designation of Su-chow is Ku-su, from the great tower of Ku-su-tai, built by Ho-lu-Wang. (2) Su-chow, formerly Tsiu-tsuan-tsiun, a free city in the province of Kan-suh, in 39° 48′ 3″ N. lat. (according to Sosnofskii), just within the extreme north-west angle of the Great Wall, near the gate of jade. It is the great centre of the rhubarb trade, and used to be the residence, alternately with Lian-chow-fu, of the governor of the province. Completely destroyed in the Dungan insurrection (1865-72), it was recovered by the Chinese in 1873 and has been rebuilt. (3) Su-chow, a commercial town situated in the province of Sze-chuen at the junction of the Min river with the Yang-tse-kiang, in 28° 46′ 50″ N. lat.