The city of Kaifeng is on the East Henan Plain south of the Yellow River. During the Spring and Autumn Period, the place became the fief of Duke Zhuang (757-701 B.C.) of the State of Zheng, who starred to build a city and named it Kaifent, meaning “opening up new territory.” It was also called Bianliang after the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.).
Kaifeng served as capital for seven feudalist dynasties in Chinese history. As one of the “six great capitals” of China, together with Beijing, Xi’an, Nanjing, Luoyang, and Hangzhou, it used to be a very prosperous city, especially during the Northern Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1127). The grandeur and prosperity of Kaifeng is vividly presented in a classical painting, “River Scene at Qingming Festival,” by the well-known artist Zhang Zeduan of the Northern Song Dynasty.
However, the former splendour of Kaifeng was gradually diminished by wars and Yellow River floods. Today, many cultural relics and ruins remain, and part of the city is being reconstructed to resemble old Kaifeng as it looked like in the Song Dynasty. When the work is finished, the historic old city will become an important stop on the tourist’s itinerary.
As an old cultural center, Kaifeng is well known for its silk products and embroidery.