Revealing the secret of Shichahai Wanning Bridge: 'Water-Taming Beast' Futune Beast

Revealing the secret of Shichahai Wanning Bridge: 'Water-Taming Beast' Futune Beast

Lately, I've been delving into the history of Beijing, and the most enjoyable approach, of course, is to combine textual information with actual facts. Previously, we visited Jin Dynasty relics such as the Yuzao Pond (where one pit remains unfilled), and naturally, the Yuan Dynasty followed.

The Yuan Dynasty has left us with many significant symbols, such as the city walls and water systems. The city walls outline the square shape of Beijing, while the waterways invigorate the capital's pulse.

Regarding the water system, the Wanning Bridge on the eastern coast of Qianhai in Shichahai is of utmost importance. It serves as the reference point of Beijing’s central axis, the terminal station of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, and the so-called twin veins of water and soil.

Nowadays, the water under the bridge is shallow, and the arch of the bridge is not tall, making it hard to imagine how grain transport ships could navigate the lock and sail into Jishuitan in those days.

When the Shichahai subway station was constructed in 2012, shafts were dug for surveying and it was discovered that the stone wall (King Kong wall) under the Yuan Dynasty's Wanning Bridge was about 5 meters high. With an additional meter above the highest point of the arch, the total clearance was 6 meters, which should not have been an issue for typical boats.

Today, we can see the small bridge and flowing water of Wanning Bridge, thanks to the active initiative of a group of scholars over 20 years ago. Among them were Shan Shiyuan, Hou Renzhi, and Luo Zhewen. Additionally, there was Kong Qingpu, this old comrade is not easy, and he has carried something significant for the country.

Setting aside the ancient bridge's vicissitudes, the most noteworthy aspect here is the water-suppressing beast by the river, unearthed during a major renovation in 2000.

Parroting a brief introduction: the dragon gave birth to nine sons, and the one adept with water was called "bā xià" or "gōng fù". It is said that six such creatures are at Wanning Bridge, with one on each side of the east and west banks of the bridge. To the west of the bridge, one dragon ball in the water faces two on the shore, creating an intriguing scene of two dragons playing with the pearl.

Besides serving as decoration, the water-suppressing beast also functions as a water level indicator. The dragon ball on the shore, the one in the middle, and the one in the water act as markers. If the water level reaches the upper beast, it warns of floods; if it touches the lower beast, it signals severe drought.

Anyone who has visited Houhai or Wanning Bridge must have seen the four water-suppressing beasts on the shore. Unfortunately, modern people seldom see the lower part of the beasts emerging from the water, let alone the two dragons playing with the pearl.

Whether in text or video, the online introductions generally end here.

So, are those two beings under the water real or not, and if so, what do they look like?

With full curiosity, I scoured the Internet but couldn't find any additional information, let alone pictures and videos.

Since it was officially renovated not long ago, why can't I even find a photo?

Just when I thought this was just one of the legendary stories of Wanning Bridge, perseverance paid off, and I really found a rusty needle in a haystack.

I found a photo with a dragon ball on a senior's blog. The existence of dragon balls means that the two dragons playing with the beads are probably real! Sure enough, I then saw the "true face" of the underwater beast. This is truly the only one on the entire network.

The reason why I put "true appearance" in quotation marks is that, after seeing this picture, although I confirmed there was something under the water, I couldn't make out what it was at the time. Is it a toad?

At this point, things took a turn, and I don't know which two neurons in my brain suddenly connected.

I decided to take on the task myself.

[The text then details the exploration and findings with various perspectives and descriptions of the underwater beasts, the dragon balls, and the exquisite carvings found on the stone walls under the water, emphasizing the uniqueness and historical significance of these discoveries.]

Just like that, my curiosity was fortunately satisfied, and I was able to share it.

A thought suddenly crossed my mind:

Human curiosity should not be limited to the Internet.

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