This is the season when silver reeds sway in the wind in Xixi Wetland. This landscape of snowflake-like flowers blooming on swampy ground lasts until January, attracting endless streams of visitors each year.
The poetic vision has enchanted people for centuries, modern times being no exception. The annual Reed Festival is underway in the park and will run until January 2.
Those who visit now can admire 24 hectares of flowering reeds of various species. On sunny days, their seed heads catch the gold of the setting sun as they disperse in the breeze.
Xixi Wetland is the first nationally protected wetland park in China and is located just a few kilometers from downtown Hangzhou. In ancient times, it was a mecca of literature rather than a park.
This year, organizers hosted the Qiuxue Nunnery Poem Seminar with the aim of combing through the abundant cultural resources of the Xixi Wetland. Renowned writers Huang Yazhou and Huang Jiqi were invited to deliver speeches on the theme of Song Dynasty (960-1279) poetry.
A riverboat cruise along the glistening waters of Xixi Wetland is recommended during the reed festival.
As in previous years, the festival began with a ritual ceremony at Qiuxue Nunnery, commemorating 1,044 writers revered in the ancestral hall for a century.
Students from the local primary school and modern poets attended the ceremony and shared their own verses.
The ancestral hall was created during the Republic of China (1912-1949) to commemorate renowned Xixi-related authors, including Su Dongpo (1037-1101), Xin Qiji (1140-1207), and Li Qingzhao (1084-1155).
Some poetry organizations were developed from societies established centuries ago, including Xihu, Qingyin, and New Jiaoyuan.
Among them, the Jiaoyuan Poets Society is probably the most renowned and prestigious. It was established in today’s Xixi Wetland and consisted of prominent women during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
In feudal times, women were forbidden to receive an education, and illiterate women were often considered to have better morals because of this.
Along with social development, groups of great men of letters began to support the education of women and the awakening of public consciousness. In return, a number of women began to realize their self-worth through literature and raised their social status by improving their literacy levels.
A number of local women established societies, stimulating the development of women’s literature. The Jiaoyuan Poets Society was one of the most renowned women’s literature societies in China at the time. Although the original group no longer exists, its spirit is carried by a group of modern poets who lead the New Jiaoyuan Poets Society.
Throughout the dynasties, an endless stream of poets praised the beauty of the Xixi Wetland and wrote an abundance of poems about the reeds. Their verses added a poetic mood to the waving reeds.
Students from Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic in traditional outfits walk on the wooden track at Xixi Wetland.
This year, students from Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic presented a magnificent hanfu (traditional Han-style clothes) in the wetland, which added an archaic ambiance to the reed marshes.
The wooden track blended harmoniously into the environment, giving visitors the impression of traveling back in time.
The traditional outfits worn by the Han Chinese through the dynasties are experiencing a revival in Hangzhou, regaining popularity and becoming fashionable among hipsters, enthusiasts and historical re-enactors.
During the festival, visitors are recommended to take a boat from Zhoujia Village Wharf to Qiuxue Nunnery Wharf through the rivers and streams of the wetland. Sitting in a traditional boat, people can hear the sound of oars paddling through the water.
Xixi is criss-crossed by waterways with striking views and natural beauty. Home to flying, paddling and diving birds, aquatic plants and reed marshes, it has become a popular tourist attraction. In the spring, the flowers are in bloom; in autumn, fiery persimmon fruits hang from the trees; and now the reeds glisten in the wind, as the fishermen set out for a good catch.
Visitors can also rent wading suits worn by local fishermen to catch fish on their own. Their loot can then be cooked at local family restaurants.