A Friendship Lasts Thousands of Years between Chongqing and Ficus Virens

29th May 2018

Articles

In urban Chongqing, many places are named by Huangjue (ficus virens, 黄桷树), such as Huangjue Street, Huangjueju Street, Huangjueping, Huangjueyuan, Huangjuewan and Huangjuebao…And in suburban Chongqing, it is so common that dozens of places are named after Huangjue.

Chongqing-ers have a special fondness for ficus virens. Why do people like to name places with “Huangjue”? Li Zhengquan, a toponymy expert, made explanations in a recent interview.

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It is said that ficus virens grows from a branch of banyan tree.

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The story goes that Sichuan and Chongqing had no ficus virens before. In the story, Huang Ge, an impecunious scholar living at Wangjia Dashan shot to fame and was dispatched to Fuzhou as a magistrate. The county was stricken by drought upon his arrival. It was hard to make a living under the broiling sun.

Huang Ge didn’t seek fame and wealth, but liked growing flowers and plants. He persuaded the local people to plant banyan trees around the houses. Some years later, the county was in the shade of massive trees and people had an easier time even in hot weather. Because of this, Fuzhou is nicknamed “City of Banyan”. The local people, to show their appreciation to Huang Ge, called the banyan tree “Huangge”. But in the local tradition, it is impolite to call the name of others, and more importantly Huang Ge was the local magistrate. They finally replaced “Huangge” with a homophone and then “Huangge” became “Huangjue” after development.

Huang Ge left with nothing but the branches of banyan tree when he was relieved of his office, intending to bring them to his hometown. On his way home, he asked the servants to inset the branches of the banyan tree into the crevices when the boat hugged the shores in the Three Gorges region. When he arrived home, there were not many branches of banyan tree left. So he only planted one branch in his own yard and shared the rest of them with the neighbors.

Years later, the branches grew to big trees and people enjoyed the cool in the shade of the trees in hot weather. Every time when they enjoy the cool, they would think of the kindness of Huang Ge. Then people decided to call the place around Huang Ge’s house “Huangjueping”.

Many places are named by “Huangjue”.

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Jiulongpo was formed by the erosion of the Yangtze River; while Huangjueping is a tableland with rocks on its edges and only the ficus virens could grow on rocks. Li Zhengquan thought Huangjueping got its name because of the large number of ficus virens.

The ficus virens can be seen everywhere; therefore it is very common the many places are named by “Huangjue”. According to Li Zhengquan, ficus virens is usually taken as a landmark.

Huangjueya in Nan’an District is a good example. In the past, if you want to go to Guizhou from Chongqing, you had to cross the river from Chuqimen and climb mountains from Haitangxi to Huangjueya, and then pass Laochang, Sanbaiti, Lujiao and Jieshi to Qijiang. Since Huangjueya is seated at the major crossroad on this route, it thrived and developed into a town named Chongwen.

But how did Chongwen Town become Huangjueya? Li Zhengquan said there are many ficus virens along the mountain road of Huangjueya. Those old and tall trees standing at the mountain pass are so massive and impressive and seem to blot out the sky and cover the sun that people only remember Huangjueya instead of Chongwen Town.

Huangjueyuan (one is at Yu’ao Avenue, Jiangbei District and the other is at Shixiao Road, Shapingba District), Huangjue Street (Dongyang Town, Beibei District) and Huangjuebao (Changshou District) are other exampled named by “Huangjue”. Li Zhengquan said “Huangjue” is more often used in place names in suburban areas.

More articles you may be interested in:The Beginning of Summer ‖ Primitive Time in Dongxi Ancient Town

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