Ruan Yuan (1764～1849), courtesy name Boyuan and art name Yuntai, was a quite accomplished scholar-official of the Qing Dynasty. He was born in a privileged family in Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province with his grandfather the Wujinshi (a degree offered after passing Military Examinations), his father the master of ancient literature and his mother good at writing poems. Consequently, at a young age, he was already good at archery, horsemanship, literature and military tactics. At the age of 25, he earned the Jinshi degree of imperial examinations and began his political career.
His political life was quite successful. He was appreciated by three emperors of the Qing Dynasty and held important hosts in their reign, and he had governed six provinces which under his governance, achieved prosperity. In addition, his achievements in literature and art are not to be neglected. His most important book, Chou Ren Zhuang (Biographies of Astronomers and Mathematicians), is the first of its kind to record and appraise the study and achievements of ancient Chinese astronomers and mathematicians; His edited Shi San Jing Zhu Shu (Commentaries and Notes on the Thirteen Classics) is the Bible for historians and cultural worker.
Although not a native of Hangzhou, his connection with Hangzhou is long and deep. Having governed Hangzhou for twelve years, his footprints can been found almost at every corner of Hangzhou. Take the Ruan Gong Islet for example. The islet, which is located in the center of West Lake and now one of the landmarks of West Lake, was built by him from the dredged silts from West Lake and named after him afterwards by Hangzhounese. Two more examples to the point are the Gu Jing Jing She (诂经精舍) on the Solitary Hill, east of Zhejiang Provincial Museum and Ruan Gong Temple, south of Chenghuang Tower. Gu Jing Jing She was constructed by Ruan Yuan during his time administrating Zhejiang Education and Ruan Gong Temple was dedicated to him in the first year of Guangxu's reign of the Qing dynasty for his contributions. In addition, his sculpture was carved on the inner wall of Chenghuang Tower along with Bai Juyi, Su Dongpo and Yu Qian, just like he was carved on the heart of Hangzhounese forever.
Recently, the city of Hangzhou was advertised in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and the ten-thousand-people time travel record of Hangzhou’s Song Dynasty Town has also been publicized in New York’s Times Square.