Being the land of Ou in ancient times, Wenzhou had become the capital of the Kingdom of the Eastern Ou. In 323 it was built as Yongjia Prefecture. It was also called the City of White Deer because, according to the legend, when the city was being built a white deer passed by holding a flower in its mouth, a sign of good fortune. In 675 it began to be called Wenzhou.
Historically, Wenzhou has been a city renowned for its handicrafts and also as one of the birthplaces of celadon. Its papermaking, shipbuilding, silk, embroidery, lacquerware, shoes and leather products achieved a fairly eminent position in the history of China. As early as the Southern Sony Dynasty (1127-1279), it was opened up as a foreign trade port, enjoying a reputation as a prosperous coastal city comparable to Hangzhou, which was the capital city of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). It is the hometown of Nanxi Opera (also known as the Southern Opera). The Tale of the Pipa, written by the famous Wenzhou playwright Gao Ming in the mid-fourteenth century, has been translated into a number of foreign languages and achieved worldwide renown.