Jian'ou was formerly called Jianning-fu (建宁府), that is, it was the governmental seat of Jianning prefecture. This prefecture and that of Fuzhou were the earliest-established component territories of the province that came to group them, and thus bears their conjoined names : Fu + Jian (福 + 建).
At one time,[when?][vague] it was the capital of Fujian. It was the capital of Yin Country in AD 943.
"of considerable size, and contains three every handsome bridges, upwards of a hundred paces in length and eight paces in width. The men of the place are very handsome, and live in a state of luxurious ease. There is much raw silk produced here and it is manufactured into silk pieces of various sorts. Cottons are also woven of coloured threads, which are carried for sale to every part of the province of Mangi. The people employ themselves extensively, and export quantities of ginger and galangal. I have been told, but did not myself see the animal, that there are found at this place a species of domestic fowls which have no feathers, their skins being clothed with black hair, resembling the fur of cats. Such a sight must be extraordinary. They lay eggs like other fowls, and they are good to eat. The multitude of tigers renders traveling through the country dangerous, unless a number of persons go in company."
^Polo, Marco, Make Poluo Lvji, William Marsden, trans., Wordsworth Editions, Ltd., Hertfordshire, 1997 / Yang Zhijiu, ed., Foreign Languages College Research Publishing, Beijing, 1997 December, p.18
^Usually englished as Manji, the Chinese term Manzi (蛮子, meaning roughly Barbary) was the name north of the Yangzi for the lands south of it, lands now comprising the rump (or Southern) Song Dynasty centred at Hangzhou. Enduringly based in the north, the Mongols completed their conquest of the rump Song in 1279, annexing it in its entirety and reducing Hangzhou to one provincial capital among many in their vast Yuan Empire. The Yuan Emperor of course was Polo's nominal host for nearly two decades. For more on the term, cf. Names of China