Quanzhou,formerly known as Zaitun,was one of the earliest places in China to have been open to the outside world and is a historical and cultural city famous both in china and abroad.
The earliest records of friendly contact between Quanzhou and the countries of Southeast Asia date from the Southern Dynasties in the sixth century.By the Tang dynasty,Quanzhou had already become one of China's four greatest ports.The developing port was known as"a city with residents from abound the word".In the Song and Yuan,Quanzhou became as famous a port as Alexandria,with ships'masts as numerous as trees in a forest,merchants gathered like clouds,and Chinese and foreign goods accumulated as high as mountains.The four great travellers of the medieval West,Marco Polo,Ibn Battuta,Giovanni Marignolli and Odoric,as well as many other Western vistors,all wrote of the opennss and prosperity of Quanzhou.This great city of southeast China,whose ships were said to "travel to ten thousand states",was a terminus of the Maritime Silk Road which linked almost one hundred countries and regions,and a destination for merchants,missionaries,and nobles of many different countries.
With increasting economic and cultural interaction,Quanzhou became a centre of East-West cultural exchange.The remnants of the ancient Minyue culture,the civilization of the Central Plains of China,and foreign cultures all intermingled together,forming a comples and multifaceted culture unique in the Chinese cultural sphere,blossoming into a flower of peace and civilization for humankind,and giving Quanzhou its reputation as a museum of world religions and a scholarly centre of the southeast coast.These enchanting images vividly and expressively portray the ancient historical character of Quanzhou,with its multi-faceted cultural forms and unusual character,and expresses the grand breadth of mind and boldness of spirit of its people.The illustration in"return to the City of Light"include rich cultural relics which have been highly praised and large numbers of precious items from the collections of the Quanzhou Maritime Museum which testify to thes splendid and praiseworthy history.We express our appreciation to all those involved in the publication,for it is through their unstinting efforts that this work,consistiong of over three hundred photographs and meticulous descriptions,has been put together in a short period of time,,enabling the culture which lives on to the present day in the hearts and minds of Quanzhou people at home and abroad to be publicized and promoted.
Research both in china and abroad into the history and culture of Quanzhou,fascinating and endlessly mysterious,has already borne rich fruit.History teaches us and important lesson.To develop economically,to play a role on the global stage,it is absolutely essential to follow the route of opening up and reform.This is indeed a splendid path.Due to prohibitions on maritime trade and other factors,Quanzhou underwent a long period of relative decline.The several centuries of stagnation that resulted are not to be laid at the feet of the curageous people of Quanzhou.Fortunately times change,and a surging spring flood now returns the world historical stage to Quanzhou.The people of Quanzhou should be proud of and treasure the fact that after its long history of cultural exchange,Quazhou's culture still retains a strong attractive force,and inspring force,a catalytic force in this new historical epoch.As we develop the economy of greater Quanzhou,promote the culture of greater Quanzhou ,and construct the city of greater Quanzhou,we should rely on this force to reinforce the ablility and productivity of the people,and realize the revival,thansmission,and further development of the true spirit of Quanzhou.
Just as humankind always returns to the sea,we hope that the eyes of the people of the world will return to the City of Light,a city tied to the sea by countless links.At the same time we hope that its reinvigorated culture and the openness of the heart and mind of its people will continue to rouse their thoughts.spread their field of vision,and enhance their talents.in order to revive the spirit of antiquity in a new certury,to construct a modern international commercial port and tourist city,an economically developed,administratively efficient,prosperous and stable garden,to live up to a proud past as well as the expectations of the current age.