China Insight Series - Anyang (安阳)

The Insight Series for 2014 continues! This series focuses on the Eight Great Ancient Capitals of China as defined by the China Ancient Capital Society.

These capitals include the cities of Luoyang, Xi'an, Beijing, Kaifeng, Nanjing, Anyang, Zhengzhou and Hangzhou. Each of these cities has served as the Capital between 216 and 1,309 for various governments in China. 

Anyang (安阳)

Anyang is a prefecture-level city in Henan province, People's Republic of China. It is the northernmost city in Henan. Anyang has a total population of 5,172,834 as of the 2010 census, 2,025,811 of whom live in the metropolitan area made of 4 urban districts and Anyang County largely agglomerated with the city proper.

Xiaonanhai, on the far western edge of the city, was home to prehistoric cavemen during the Stone Age. Over 7,000 artifacts (including stone tools and animal bone fossils) have been unearthed here, representing what has been dubbed the Xiaonanhai culture. Around 2000 BC, the legendary sage-kings Zhuanxu and Emperor Ku are said to have established their capitals in the area around Anyang from where they ruled their kingdoms. Their mausoleums are today situated in Sanyang village south of Neihuang County.


At the beginning of the 14th century BC, King Pangeng of the Shang Dynasty established his capital 2 km north of the modern city on the banks of the Huan River. The city, known as Yin, was the first stable capital in Chinese history and from that point on the dynasty that founded it would also become known as the Yin Dynasty.

The capital served 12 kings in 8 generations including Wu Ding, under whom the dynasty reached the zenith of its power, until it was wiped out along with the dynasty that was founded by King Wu of the Zhou in 1046 BC. Anyang's Tangyin County was the seat of Yue Village, birthplace of the famous Song Dynasty general, Yue Fei. This was also the historic home of Zhou Tong, Yue's military arts tutor. The contemporary city was reconstructed in 1368 CE during the Ming Dynasty.

Xiaoling mausoleum of Ming Dynasty      Yue Fei Temple

Anyang city is an ancient city with a history of over 3,000 years and is one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China. It is one of the key birthplaces of Chinese ancient culture. Tianning Si (Mansion Temple) was established during the Zhou dynasty.

Wenfeng Ta on the grounds of the Tianning Temple is believed to have been constructed in 952. The current pagoda was constructed during the Ming Dynasty and received its current name during the Qing Dynasty due to its proximity to the Confucian temple. The five-story dark red brick octagonal tower is 38.65m high and is, unusually, larger at the top than the bottom and is topped with a 10m Lamaist stupa-style dagoba steeple. The pagoda stands on two-metre-high stone pedestal and is decorated with multi-eave pent roofs and carvings of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. The unique pagoda is the symbol of Anyang.

Tianning Si       Wenfeng Ta

Anyang's opening to the outside world has enabled its foreign economic relations and trade to progress rapidly. Sixteen foreign-funded enterprises (joint ventures, cooperative enterprises and wholly foreign-owned enterprises) have been established. Recently, Anyang has established an economic and technological development zone covering a total area of 22.8 km2, and issued a series of preferential policies to attract many domestic Chinese and foreign businesses. A multichannel, all-round foreign relations and trade network has been set up to lay a foundation for developing Anyang's economy.

Confucian Saying of the Month


Fùmǔ zhī nián bùkě bùzhī yě, yī zé yǐ xǐ, yī zé yǐ jù

It is better for a man to bear the age of his parents in mind.

On the one hand, he is pleased with their long life. On the other, he is worried about their decrepitude.

Chinese Character of the Month

like, pleased, happiness

This Chinese character is an associative compound. It is made up of two elements: the top part壴(zhù), means orchestra in ancient China also refers to the sound of music; the rest part 口(kǒu), means the mouth, or to make sound. So, the two parts collectively mean the sound of cheer. Today, the character can be used as verb, adjective and noun. As a verb it means to like or enjoy. As an adjective it means happy and pleased. As a noun, it means happiness or good news.

喜欢 xǐhuan – like

喜好 xǐhào – hobby, interest

喜悦 xǐyuè —happy, delighted

喜事儿 xǐshìr – happy event

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