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The Creation of Town Foundation Legends: A Case Study of Puyuan Town, Jiaxing Perfecture

Hongfei PAN (Sun Yat-sen University)
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This paper is a case study of the legends of town foundation of Puyuan town, Jiaxing prefecture , Zhejiang. It analyzes multiple editions of the town gazetteer, in particular the Abbreviated Record of Puchuan (Puchuan Zhilue) , in order to explore the background and formation process of two distinct versions of the legend of the town's founding-one revolving around a phoenix alighting on a parasol tree, the other of the emperor bestowing an iron tally. By analysing the motivations behind the creation of town foundation legends by members of the Pu surname, the paper shows how the multi- surname collective management of the town was challenged in mid-Ming by the descendants of a powerful lineage from the Yuan, and how foundation legends served as a new arena for the contestation of local power. This leads to a new understanding of the trend towards rising uniformity in town development models among market towns in Jiangnan in Ming and Qing, as well as of the underlying social and economic changes.

Journal of History and Anthropology