Emperor Liangwu and Fenyi (Burning-Garment Street) Street

Originally the outer imperial avenue in Nanjing as the capital of the Six Dynasties,  Zhonghua Road is also called Fenyi Street since emperor Liangwu had deluxe and bizarre clothes of Xaio Baojuan, a debauched vassal of Qidong county, burnt on this street. As recorded by “History of Jingding Jiangkang”, “A debauched vassal of Qidong county had four kinds of caps and five-color garments. He went out for recreation for over twenty days in a month, or rather, leaving home in the morning and coming back in small hours, or leaving home at night and coming back in the early morning. Emeror Liangwu launched an expedition from Xiangyang, removed this debauched vassal of his power and had 62 kinds of his bizarre garments burnt on the imperial avenue which was later called ‘Fenyi Street’ (Burning-Garment Street)”. On the day of burning these garments, as it is said, all residents in the city of Jiangkang (Nanjing) went into the street, with the imperial avenue flanked by lots of people watching. Along the imperial avenue, a piece of five-color garment was hung at every interval of dozens of steps extending from the imperial palace to Zhuque Bridge. With the order of emperor Liangwu, soldiers held up torches and lit these garments. There was joyful laughter along the imperial avenue as flames soared up. After this, the tendency of extravagance was restrained to some extent. Therefore, people in following generations gave another name as “Fenyi Street” ( Burning-Garment Street ) to the imperial avenue. For this, Ma Yetin, a poet of the Song Dynasty, wrote a poem named Burning-Garment Street: “Five-color garments are cut by jade fingers with extremely meticulous craftsmanship. It seems that this is the only reason for the fall of a nation. All garments of extravagance are completely burnt on a wide avenue. ”


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