Yellow Crane Tower

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The Yellow Crane Tower
黄鹤楼匾额.JPG
View to the west with Tortoise Hill and beyond, the Tortoise Mountain TV Tower

Yellow Crane Tower (Chinese: ; pinyin: Huáng Hè Lóu) is a famous and historic tower, first built in 223 AD. The current structure, however, was rebuilt in 1981 at an one kilometre distance from the original site, and bears little resemblance to the historical Yellow Crane Tower. The tower stands on Sheshan (Snake Hill), at the bank of Yangtze River in Wuchang District, Wuhan, in Hubei province of central China.

History[edit]

View to the east from the Yellow Crane Tower. The eastern part of the Snake Hill is in the middle; the red-brick compound of the Wuchang Uprising memorial is to the right of it

The original site of the tower is on the Yellow Crane Jetty, west of Xiakou. The Yuanhe Maps and Records of Prefectures and Counties notes that when Sun Quan built the fort of Xiakou, a tower is built on and is named after the jetty.

Warfare and fires destroyed the tower many times. In the Ming and Qing dynasties alone, the tower was destroyed 7 times, and was rebuilt and repaired 10 times. The last one in the Qing dynasty was built on 1868 and was destroyed on 1884. Its site was later occupied by the trestle of Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge in 1957. In 1981, the Wuhan city government decided to rebuild the tower at a new location, one kilometer from the historical site. The current tower was completed in 1985.

Legend[edit]

There are at least two legends related to Yellow Crane Tower. In the first, an Immortal (仙人) name Wang Zi'an (王子安) rode off on a yellow crane from Snake Mountain. A tower was later built in commemoration. In the second, after becoming an Immortal, Fei Wenyi (费文祎) would ride a yellow crane and often stop on Snake Hill to take a rest.[1]

The tower is also a sacred site of Taoism. Lü Dongbin is said to be ascend to the heaven from here.[2]

Literature[edit]

Poem by Cui Hao[edit]

Yellow Crane Tower was made famous by an 8th-century poem written by Cui Hao called "Yellow Crane Tower" (黄鹤楼).[3] The original text of the poem is shown below:

昔人已乘黄鹤去,此地空余黄鹤楼。
黄鹤一去不复返,白云千载空悠悠。
晴川历历汉阳树,芳草萋萋鹦鹉洲。
日暮乡关何处是? 烟波江上使人愁。

A modern English translation of the poem may follow as such:

Long ago one's gone riding the yellow crane,[4] all that remained is the Yellow Crane Tower.
Once the yellow crane left it will never return, for one thousand years the clouds wandered carelessly.
The clear river reflects each Hanyang tree, fragrant grasses lushly grow on Parrot Island.[5]
At sunset, which direction leads to my hometown? One could not help feeling melancholy along the misty river.

Poem by Li Bai[edit]

There are other famous poems about it by Li Bai; one of which, written on the occasion of parting with his friend and poetic colleague Meng Haoran is called "Seeing off Meng Haoran for Guangling at Yellow Crane Tower" (黄鹤楼送孟浩然之广陵). The original poem is shown below:

故人西辞黄鹤楼,
烟花三月下扬州。
孤帆远影碧空尽,
唯见长江天际流

A modern English translation of the poem may follow as such:

My old friends said goodbye to the west, here at Yellow Crane Tower,
In the third month's cloud of willow blossoms, he's going down to Yangzhou.
The lonely sail is a distant shadow, on the edge of a blue emptiness,
All I see is the Yangtze River flow to the far horizon.

Alternative translation: My old friend bids a westerly farewell to Yellow Crane Tower, In the misty blossoms of April as he goes down to Yangzhou. His lone sail is a distant shadow disappearing in the azure void, All I see is a long river flowing to the edge of heaven.

Modern Association With Poetry -

As of 1988, one of the top floors in the Tower is strictly reserved for visiting poets of note. The public may peer in, but the room is roped off. It is fully equipped with desks, chairs, papers, brushes, and inks; waiting for any worthy poet to use.

Tourism[edit]

The top of the tower has a broad view of the surroundings and the Yangtze River. Yellow Crane Tower is considered one of the Four Great Towers of China. In its modern version it has the appearance of an ancient tower but is built of modern materials and includes an elevator as it was rebuilt in 1981. Displays are presented at each level. To the east on the hill, a large temple bell may be rung by tourists for a small fee. There are court dances in the western yard every year during the week long celebration of China's National Day (October 1). The tower is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Wan: The source of the Wang Zi'an legend is 《南齐书·州郡志》. The Fei Wenyi legend is from 《太平寰宇记》. Pages 43.
  2. ^ Images of the Immortal: The Cult of Lü Dongbin at the Palace of Eternal Joy by Paul R. Katz, University of Hawaii Press, 1999, page 80
  3. ^ Wan: Page 42.
  4. ^ Wan: Several Tang sources use "cloud" (白云) rather than "yellow crane" here. The use of "yellow crane" is a later change. Page 43.
  5. ^ Wan: Parrot Island was a sandbar in the middle of the river that has since disappeared. Page 43.
  6. ^ "AAAAA Scenic Areas". China National Tourism Administration. 16 November 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 

Reference sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°32′49″N 114°17′49″E / 30.54694°N 114.29694°E / 30.54694; 114.29694