Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)
National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party
“Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” is a serial nomination of the representative monuments and sites of Quanzhou (Zayton) - an important port city in China in the prosperous period of the Maritime Silk Roads. A total of 16 monuments and sites are nominated, categorised into “historical sites and relics of navigation and trade”, “historical sites and relics of multiculture” and “historical sites and relics of urban construction and land transport”, representing the prosperity of Quanzhou in the Song (960-1279 AD) and Yuan (1271-1368 AD) dynasties as an important hub of the Maritime Silk Roads from multiple perspectives.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
Criterion (ii): Quanzhou (Zayton) was an important hub of the navigation and trade routes through Indian Ocean and western Pacific from the 10th to the 14th century. It was the largest port city of maritime trade in the east in the golden age of the Maritime Silk Roads in the Yuan Dynasty (the 13th century to the 14th century). With magnificent cultural background, extensive spatial dimension of interchange, and a comprehensive system of communication facilities, “MHistoric Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” exhibits the cultural exchange of the peoples from the countries along the coast of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific in their prosperous period of commercial trade before the Age of Discovery in the 15th century. The nominated monuments and sites exhibit Quanzhou (Zayton)’s contribution to the exchange system of the Maritime Silk Roads and interchange of the Chinese people and foreigners in China on religious beliefs from the 10th century to the 14th century and their representation in the urban culture, architectural design and sculpture art.
Criterion (iii): “Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” testify to the development of the ocean civilization and the unique ocean culture in China’s southeast coastal area in the prosperous period of the Maritime Silk Roads from the 10th century to the 14th century as well as the tradition of exchange, fusion and harmonious co-existence of the different religious cultures in Quanzhou brought along by navigation activities.
Criterion (vi): “Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” is directly associated with the significant events of Zheng He’s voyages to the west and tangibly associated with the spread of Islam, Manichaeism, Hinduism and Nestorianism in the southeast coastal area of China. The monuments and sites are directly associated with the following literary works: Travels of Marco Polo, Travels of Friar Odoric, Ibn Battuta’s Rihla, Records of Foreign Countries, and A Synoptical Account of the Islands and Their Barbarians. These events, communications and works had great influences on the Chinese history as well as the world history.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
As a whole, the nominated property authentically reflects the typical geographic and environmental characteristics of Quanzhou and other cities in the southeast coastal area of China. The construction, restoration and continued use of the property have faithfully recorded the history of the maritime trade, urban development and cultural exchange in Quanzhou during the period when the “Maritime Silk Roads” reached a prosperous development. The styles, materials and functions of the monuments and sites authentically reflect the overall characteristics of the property. The property authentically reflects the port structure, trade management authority, belief in sea god and goddess, navigation technology, urban and supporting transportation facility as well as diverse religious and cultural exchange in Quanzhou at that time, as testified in the records of many historical documents. In general, “Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” has a good degree of authenticity.
“Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” has included a multitude of property types, which demonstrate the prosperity of Quanzhou between the 10th and 14th century, the thriving period of the Maritime Silk Roads. In terms of navigation and trade, the property has included major infrastructure sites for an ocean trade port, such as docks, pagodas for navigation, management authorities, temples for god and goddess of the sea and commodity production sites, all of which are in relatively good integrity. The 16 monuments and sites, with related geographical features and abundant archaeology relics, represent all the values of the serial property.
The pressure from urban development and tourism as well as natural threats found in a few monuments and sites have been effectively controlled, prevented and appropriately treated by the formulation and implementation of administrative regulations, and the development of culture heritage conservation plans and administrative plans. In general, the serial property of “Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” has a good degree of integrity.
Comparison with other similar properties
Comparison with properties on the World Heritage List
Comparisons are made with eleven World Heritage properties related to port cities in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific, including Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (1981), Churches and Convents of Goa (1986), Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (1988), Island of Mozambique (1991), Historic Town of Vigan (1999), Hoi An Ancient Town (1999), Stone Town of Zanzibar (2000), Lamu Old Town (2001), Historic Centre of Macao (2005), Melaka and George Town (2008), Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah (2014).
Of the eight World Heritage properties featured by cultural exchange, two World Heritage properties, namely the Stone Town of Zanzibar and the Lamu Old Town, show similarity with the nominated properties in terms of time. Both reached their height from the 13th to the 15th century. However, their cultural exchange centred on Swahili culture and Islamic culture around the Indian Ocean, which was testified by the architecture and urban fabrics. The other six show differences from the nominated property in time. They reflect the cultural exchanges during and after the period for the Age of Discovery in the 15th century, which is different from the prosperous time reflected in the monuments and sites in Quanzhou.
Cultural exchange in Quanzhou reached as far as the Korean Peninsula and Japan in the east, and the East African coastal areas to the west, covering a variety of cultural elements from Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Manichaeism. This is reflected in the architectural style and building technique, navigation knowledge and technology as well as commodity trade, which justify Quanzhou’s significance in world maritime trade and cultural communications.
Comparison with properties on the World Heritage Tentative List
Five properties related to the port cities in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific are selected for comparison, namely Alexandria, ancient remains and the new library (2003), Butuan Archaeological Sites (2006), Ancient City of Qalhat (2013), Archaeological remains of a Harappa Port-Town, Lothal (2014), The Old Town of Jakarta (Formerly old Batavia) and 4 Outlying Islands (Onrust, Kelor, Cipir dan Bidadari) (2015).
The Old Town of Jakarta, which reflects the western urban planning concepts after the Age of Discovery, is different in historical stage as demonstrated by the property in Quanzhou. Alexandria testifies to the trade and cultural communications in the Mediterranean, Central Asia, North Africa and the Indian Ocean. The Ancient City of Qalhat is witness to the trade and communications in the Near East, Far East and Arab regions. Different from these properties, the spatial scope of exchange in Quanzhou has covered the Indian Ocean and western Pacific, with greater connotations of cultural exchange that justify its significance in world maritime trade and cultural communications.