West Lake - Influences


Xī Hú is said to be the incarnation of Xi Shi, one of the Four Beauties of ancient China. Since ancient times, Xī Hú was associated with a large number of romantic poets, profound philosophers, national heroes and heroines. West Lake was also the retreat for many Chinese writers of the past. The Northern Song Dynasty poet Lin Bu, shunning the life of being an official, lived in seclusion by West Lake for twenty years, and dedicated himself to the cultivation of peach and plum blossoms. The great Ming Dynasty essayist Zhang Dai, wrote a number of essays about Xī Hú in Reminiscence and Dream of Tao'an (陶庵夢憶), and a whole book: Search for Xī Hú in Dreams (西湖夢尋). West Lake has had a profound impact on Far Eastern landscape designs, and its features have often been imitated by other palaces and gardens, such as Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace in Beijing, the central ponds of the Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden and Koishikawa Kōrakuen Garden in Tokyo, Japan, among others.

Due to its prominent historical and cultural status, West Lake was selected as a National Key Scenic Resort in 1982, one of Ten Scenic Resorts in 1985 and a national 5A tourist resort in 2006.

Along with its cultural importance, West Lake historically was also of value for local commercial fishermen. According to statistics from 1977, the lake had an annual fish yield of 1300 kg/hectare, quite a bit more than for some larger lakes (that is, East Lake of Wuhan had a yield of only 450 kg/ha).

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