Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Chinese garden

Chinese garden

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Chinese garden'
Start a new discussion about 'Chinese garden'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Chinese garden, also known as a Chinese classical garden, is a style of landscape garden which has evolved for more than three thousand years, and which is inspired by Chinese literature
Chinese literature
Chinese literature extends thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the mature fictional novels that arose during the Ming Dynasty to entertain the masses of literate Chinese...

, Chinese painting
Chinese painting
Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. The earliest paintings were not representational but ornamental; they consisted of patterns or designs rather than pictures. Early pottery was painted with spirals, zigzags, dots, or animals...

 and Chinese philosophy
Chinese philosophy
Chinese philosophy is philosophy written in the Chinese tradition of thought. The majority of traditional Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States era, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and...

. It includes vast parks built by the Chinese emperors, small monastic gardens, and gardens built by Chinese scholars for contemplation and reflection.

History


Beginnings


The earliest recorded Chinese gardens were created in the valley of the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

, during the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 (1600-1046 B.C). These gardens were large enclosed parks where the kings and nobles hunted game, or where fruit and vegetables were grown.

Early inscriptions from this period, carved on tortoise shells, have three Chinese characters for garden, you, pu and yuan. You was a royal garden where birds and animals were kept, while pu was a garden for plants. During the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 (221-206 BC), yuan became the character for all gardens. The old character for yuan is a small picture of a garden; it is enclosed in a square which can represent a wall, and has symbols which can represent a roof structure or a pavilion, a small square which can represent a pond, and a symbol for a pomegranate tree.

A famous royal garden of the late Shang Dynasty was the Terrace, Pond and Park of the Spirit (Lingtai, Lingzhao Lingyou) built by King Wenwang west of his capital city, Yin
Yinxu
Yinxu is the ruins of the last capital of China's Shang Dynasty. The capital served 255 years for 12 kings in 8 generations.Rediscovered in 1899, it is one of the oldest and largest archeological sites in China and is one of the historical capitals of China and a UNESCO World Heritage Site...

. The park was described in the Shijing (Classic of Poetry) this way:
The Emperor makes his promenade in the Park of the Spirit,
The deer are kneeling on the grass, feeding their fawns,
The deer are beautiful and resplendant.
The immaculate cranes have plumes of a a brilliant white.
The Emperor makes his promenade to the Pond of the Spirit,
The water is full of fish, who wriggle."


Another early royal garden was Shaqui, or the Dunes of Sand, built by the last Shang ruler, King Zhou of Shang
King Zhou of Shang
Emperor Xin of Shang was the last king of the Shang Dynasty. He was later given the pejorative posthumous name Zhòu . He is also called Zhou Xin or King Zhou . He may also be referred to by adding "Shang" in front of any of his names...

. (1075-1046 B.C.). It was composed of an earth terrace, or tai, which served as an observation platform in the center of a large square park. It was described in one of the early classics of Chinese literature, th Shiji, or the Records of the Grand Historian.

According to the Records of the Grand Historian, one of the most famous features of this garden was the Wine Pool and Meat Forest (酒池肉林). A large pool, big enough for several small boats, was constructed on the Palace grounds, with inner linings of polished oval shaped stones from the sea shores. The pool was then filled with wine. A small island was constructed in the middle of the pool, where trees were planted, which had skewers of roasted meat hanging from their branches. Zhou and his friends and concubines drifted in their boats, drinking the wine with their hands and eating the roasted meat from the trees. Later Chinese philosophers and historians cited this garden as an example of decadence and bad taste.

During the Spring and Autumn Period (722 B.C. to 481 B.C.), in the year 535 B.C., the Terrace of Shanghua, with lavishly decorated palaces, was built by King Lingwang. In 505 B.C., an even more elaborate garden, the Terrace of Gusu, was begun. It was located on the side of a mountain, and included a series of terraces connected by galleries, along with a lake where boats in the form of blue dragons navigated. From the highest terrace, a view extended as far as Lake Tai, the Great Lake.

The Legend of the Isle of the Immortals


In the 4th Century B.C. a classic book of Chinese literature, the Shan Hai Jing
Shan Hai Jing
Shan Hai Jing is a Chinese classic text, and a compilation of early geography and myth. Versions of the text have existed since the 4th century BC, and by the early Han Dynasty it had reached its final form. It is largely a fabled geographical and cultural account of pre-Qin China as well as a...

, or Classic of Mountains and Seas, told a tale that there was a peak called Mount Penglai located on one of three islands at the eastern end of the Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of Northeastern and North China. It is approximately 78,000 km2 Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of...

, between Japan and Korea, which was the home of the Eight Immortals
Eight Immortals
The Eight Immortals are a group of legendary xian in Chinese mythology. Each Immortal's power can be transferred to a power tool that can give life or destroy evil. Together, these eight tools are called "Covert Eight Immortals" . Most of them are said to have been born in the Tang Dynasty or...

. On this island were palaces of gold and platinum, with jewels on the trees. There was no pain, no winter, wine glasses and rice bowls were always full, and fruits when eaten granted eternal life. This legend inspired a whole series of famous Chinese gardens.

In 221 B.C. Ying Zhen, the King of Qin, conquered his rivals and unified China into an empire, which he ruled until 210 B.C.. He heard the legend of the islands and sent emissaries to find the islands and bring back the elixir of immortal life, without success. At his palace near his capital, Xianyang
Xianyang
Xianyang is a former capital of China in Shaanxi province, on the Wei River, a few kilometers upstream from Xi'an. It has an area of...

, he created a garden with a large lake called Lanchi gong or the Lake of the Orchids. On an island in the lake he created a replica of Mount Penglai, symbolizing his search for paradise. Unfortunately, after his death, his empire fell in 206 B.C. and his capital city and garden were completely destroyed.

Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD)


Under the new Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (206 BC – 220 AD), a new imperial capital was built at Changan, and Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han , , personal name Liu Che , was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized...

 built a new imperial garden, which combined the features of botanical and zoological gardens, as well as the traditional hunting grounds. Inspired by another version of Chinese classic about the Isles of the Immortals, called Liezi
Liezi
The Liezi is a Daoist text attributed to Lie Yukou, a circa 5th century BCE Hundred Schools of Thought philosopher, but Chinese and Western scholars believe it was compiled around the 4th century CE.-Textual history:...

, he created a large artifical lake, the Lake of the Supreme Essence, with three artificial islands in the center representing the three isles of the Immortals. The park was later destroyed, but its memory would continue to inspire Chinese garden design design for centuries.

Another notable garden of the Han period was the Garden of General Liang-Ji built under the Emperor Shundi (125-144 AD). Using a fortune amassed during his twenty years in the imperial court, General Liang-Ji build an immense landscape garden with artificial mountains, ravines and forests, filled with rare birds and domesticated wild animals. This was one of the first gardens that tried to create an idealized copy of nature.

Gardens for poets and scholars (221–618 AD)


After the fall of the Han Dynasty, a long period of political instability began in China. Buddhism was introduced into China by the Emperor Mingdi (57-75 AD), and spread rapidly. By 495, the city of Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

, capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty, had over 1,300 temples, mostly in the former residences of believers. Each of the temples had its own small garden.

During this period, many former government officials left the court and built country estates where they could escape the outside world and concentrate on nature and literature. One example was the Jingu Yuan, or Garden of the Golden Valley, built by Shi Chong, (249-300 AD), an aristocrat and former court official, who in 296 completed a garden ten kilometers northeast of Luoyang. He invited thirty famous poets to a banquet in his garden, and wrote about the event himself:
This visit to the garden resulted in a famous collection of poems, Jingu Shi, or Poems of the Golden Valley, and launched a long tradition of writing poetry in and about gardens.

The poet and calligrapher Wang Xizhi
Wang Xizhi
Wang Xizhi was a Chinese calligrapher, traditionally referred to as the Sage of Calligraphy , who lived during the Jin Dynasty...

 (307-365) created another famous poetry setting, called the Orchid Pavilion. This was a park with a meandering stream. He brought together a group of famous poets, and seated them beside the stream. Then he placed cups of wine in the stream, and let them float. If the cup stopped beside one of the poets, he was obliged to drink it and then compose a poem. The garden of the floating cup (liubei tang), with small pavillions and artificial winding streams, became extremely popular in both imperial and private gardens.

The Orchid Pavilion inspired the Emperor Yangti (604-617), of the Sui Dynasty
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

, to build his new imperial garden, the Garden of the West, near Hangzhou
Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

. His garden had a meandering stream for floating glasses of wine and pavillions for writing poetry. He also used the park for theatrical events; he launched small boats on his stream with animated figures illustrating the history of China.

Tang Dynasty (618–907), First Golden Age of the Classical Garden



The Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 (618-907 AD) was considered the first golden age of the classical Chinese garden. The Emperor Xuanzong built a magnificent imperial garden, the Garden of the Majestic Clear Lake, near Xian, and lived there with his famous concubine, Yang Guifei
Yang Guifei
Consort Yang Yuhuan , often known as Yáng Guìfēi , known briefly by the Taoist nun name Taizhen , was known as one of the Four Beauties of ancient China...

, who ruled over the palace and the Emperor.

Painting and poetry reached a level never seen before, and new gardens, large and small, filled the capital city, Changan. The new gardens, were inspired by classical legends and poems. There were shanchi yuan, gardens with artificial mountains and ponds, inspired by the legend of the isles of immortals, and shanting yuan, gardens with replicas of mountains and small viewing houses, or pavilions. Even ordinary residences had tiny gardens in their courtyards, with terra-cotta mountains and small ponds.

These Chinese classical gardens, or scholar's gardens (wenren yuan), were inspired by, and in turn inspired, classical Chinese poetry and painting. A notable example was the Jante Valley Garden of the poet-painter and civil servant Wang Wei (701-761.) He bought the ruined villa of a poet, located near the mouth of a river and a lake. He created twenty small landscape scenes within his garden, with names such as the Garden of Magnolias, the Waving Willows, the Kiosk in the Heart of the Bamboos, the Spring of the Golden Powder, and the View-House beside the Lake. He wrote a a poem for each scene in the garden and commissioned a famous artist, to paint scenes of the garden on the walls of his villa. After retiring from the government, he passed his time taking boat trips on the lake, playing the cithare and writing and reciting poetry.

During the Tang Dynasty, plant cultivation was developed to an advanced level, with many plant species being grown by means of plant introduction
Introduced species
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...

, domestication
Domestication
Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

, transplantation
Transplanting
For botanical organ transplant, see GraftingIn agriculture and gardening, transplanting or replanting is the technique of moving a plant from one location to another. Most often this takes the form of starting a plant from seed in optimal conditions, such as in a greenhouse or protected nursery...

, and grafting
Grafting
Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another so that the two sets of vascular tissues may join together. This vascular joining is called inosculation...

. The aesthetic properties of plants were highlighted, while numerous books on plant classification and cultivation were published. The capital, Shangan, was a very cosmopolitan city, filled with diplomats, merchants, pilgrims, monks and students, who carried descriptions of the gardens all over Asia. The economic prosperity of the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 led to the increasing construction of classical gardens across all of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

.

The last great garden of the Tang Dynasty was the Hamlet of the Mountain of the Serene Spring (Pingquan Shanzhuang), built east of the city of Luoyang by Li Deyu, Grand Minister of the Empire. The garden was vast, with over a hundred pavilions and structures, but it was most famous for its collection of exotic-shaped rocks and plants, which he collected all over China. Rocks of unusual shapes, known as Chinese Scholars' Rocks, often selected to portray the part of a mountain or mountain range in a garden scene, gradually became an essential feature of the Chinese garden.

Song Dynasties (960–1279)




There were two periods of the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

, northern and southern, and both were known for the construction of famous gardens. The Emperor Huizong of Song (1082-1135) was an accomplished painter of birds and flowers. A scholar himself, he integrated elements of the scholar garden into his grand imperial garden. His first garden, called The Basin of the Clarity of Gold, was an artificial lake surrounded by terraces and pavilions. The public was invited into the garden in the spring for boat races and spectacles on the lake. In 1117 he personally supervised the building of a new garden. He had exotic plants and picturesque rocks brought from around the Empire for his garden, particularly the prized rocks from Taihu
Taihu
Taihu may refer to the following in China:*Taihu County , of Anqing, Anhui*Lake Tai , large freshwater lake on the borders of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces*Taihu, Beijing , town in Tongzhou District, Beijing...

. Some of the rocks were so large that, in order to move them by water on the grand canal, he had to destroy all the bridges between Hangzhou and Beijing. In the center of his garden he had constructed an artificial mountain a hundred meters high, with cliffs and ravines, which he named Genyue, or "The Mountain of Stability." The garden was finished in 1122. In 1127 the Emperior Huizong was forced to flee when his capital city attacked by the armies of the Jin Dynasty
Jin Dynasty
Jin Dynasty may refer to:* Jin Dynasty , Chinese dynasty, subdivided into the Western and Eastern Jin periods* Later Jin Dynasty , one of the Five Dynasties during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period in China.* Jin Dynasty , a Jurchen kingdom in northern China* Later Jīn Dynasty, or...

  When he returned, he found his garden was completely destroyed, all the pavilions burned and the art works looted. Only the mountain remained.

While the imperial gardens were the best known, many smaller but equally picturesque gardens were built in Chinese cities such as Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

. The Garden of the Monastery of the Celestial Rulers in Luoyang was famous for its peonies; the entire city came when they were in bloom. The Garden of Multiple Springtimes was famous for its view of the mountains. The most famous garden in Luoyang was the The Garden of Solitary Joy (Dule Yuan), built by the poet and historian Sima Guang
Sima Guang
Sīmǎ Guāng was a Chinese historian, scholar, and high chancellor of the Song Dynasty, jinshi 1038.-Life, profession, and works:...

 (1021-1086). His garden had an area of eight mu, or about 1.5 hectares. In the center was the Pavilion of Study, his library, with five thousand volumes. To the north was an artificial lake, with a small island, with a picturesque fisherman's hut. To the east was a garden of medicinal herbs, and to the west was an artificial mountain, with a belevedere at the summit to view the surrounding neighborhoods. Any passer-by could visit the garden by paying a small fee.

After the defeat of the Emperior Huizong, the capital of the Song Dynasty was moved to Linan, in Jiangnan
Jiangnan
Jiangnan or Jiang Nan is a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the southern part of the Yangtze Delta...

 Province.
The city of Linan soon had more than fifty gardens built on the shore of the Western Lake. The other city in the province famous for its gardens was PIngjiang, (present-day Suzhou
Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

), where many scholars, government officials and merchants built residences with gardens. Some of these gardens still exist today, though most been much altered over the centuries.
The oldest Suzhou garden that can be seen today is the Blue Wave Pavilion
Blue Wave Pavilion
The Great Wave Pavilion located at 3 Cāng Làng Tíng Jie Suzhou City, of Jiangsu Province of China. It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.- History :...

, built in 1044 by the Song Dynasty poet Su Shunqing. (1008–1048). In the Song period it consisted of a hilltop viewing pavilion. Other lakeside pavilions were added, including a reverence hall, a recitation hall, and a special pavilion for watching the fish. Over the centuries it was much modified, but still keeps its essential plan.

Another Song Dynasty garden still existing is the Master of the Nets Garden
Master of the Nets Garden
The Master of the Nets Garden in Suzhou is among the finest gardens in China. It is located at Canglang District, Dai Cheng Qiao Road, No. 11 Kuo Jia Tou Xiang . It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site...

 in Suzhou. It was created in 1141 by Shi Zhengzhi, Deputy Civil Service Minister of the Southern Song Dynasty government. It had his library, the Hall of Ten Thousand Volumes, and an adjacent garden called the Fisherman's Retreat. It was extensively remodeled between 1736-1796, but it remains one of the best example of a Song Dynasty Scholars Garden.

In the city of Wuxing
Wuxing
Wuxing may refer to:*Wu Xing , concept in Chinese philosophy*Wuxing , a Chinese "Warring States" text*Flag of the People's Republic of China, also known as the "Five-starred red flag"...

, on the edge of Lake Taihu and at the foot of two mountains, there were thirty-four gardens recorded by the Song dynasty historian Zhou Mi (1232-1308). The two most famous gardens, the Garden of the North (Beiyuan) and the Garden of the South (Nanyuan), both belonged to Shen Dehe, Grand Minister to the Emperor Shaoxing
Shaoxing
Shaoxing is a prefecture-level city in northeastern Zhejiang province, People's Republic of China. Located on the south bank of the Qiantang River estuary, it borders Ningbo to the east, Taizhou to the southeast, Jinhua to the southwest, and Hangzhou to the west. It was once known as "越"...

 (1131-1162). The Garden of the South was a classic mountain-and-lake (shanshui) garden; it had a lake with an Island of Immortality (Penglai dao) , on which were three great boulders from Taihu. The Garden of the South was a water garden, with five large lakes connected to Lake Taihu. A terrace gave visitors a view of the lake and the mountains.

Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368)



1271 the Mongol ruler, Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 declared himself Emperor of China. By 1279 he annihilated the last resistance of the Song Emperors, and reunited the Empire under his new Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

. He established a new capital on the site of present day Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, called Dadu
Dadu
-Places:*Khanbaliq, capital city of the Yuan Dynasty, located in modern Beijing, People's Republic of China*Dadu District, a district in Sindh, Pakistan*Dadu, Pakistan, a town in Dadu District, Sindh, Pakistan-Rivers:...

, the Great Capital.

The most famous garden of the Yuan Dynasty was Kublai Khan's summer palace and garden at Xanadu
Xanadu
-Description of Xanadu by Toghon Temur :The lament of Toghon Temur Khan , concerning the loss of Daidu and Heibun Shanduu in 1368, is recorded in many Mongolian historical chronicles...

. The Venetian traveler Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 visited Xanadu in about 1275, and described the garden this way:

"Round this Palace a wall is built, inclosing a compass of 16 miles, and
inside the Park there are fountains and rivers and brooks, and beautiful
meadows, with all kinds of wild animals (excluding such as are of
ferocious nature), which the Emperor has procured and placed there to
supply food for his gerfalcons and hawks, which he keeps there in mew. Of
these there are more than 200 gerfalcons alone, without reckoning the
other hawks. The Khan himself goes every week to see his birds sitting in
mew, and sometimes he rides through the park with a leopard behind him on
his horse's croup; and then if he sees any animal that takes his fancy, he
slips his leopard at it, and the game when taken is made over to
feed the hawks in mew. This he does for diversion."

This brief description later inspired the poem Kubla Khan
Kubla Khan
Kubla Khan is a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, completed in 1797 and published in Christabel, Kubla Khan, and the Pains of Sleep in 1816...

 by the English romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

.

When he established his new capital at Dadu, Kublai Khan he enlarged the artificial lakes that had been created a century earlier by the Jin Dynasty, and built up the island of Oinghua, creating a striking contrast between curving banks of the lake and garden and the strict geometry of what later became the Forbidden City
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

 of Beijing. This constrast is still visible today.

Despite the Mongol invasion, the classical Chinese scholar's garden continued to flourish in other parts of China. An excellent example was the Lion Grove Garden
Lion Grove Garden
The Lion Grove Garden located at 23 Yuanlin Road Suzhou City, of Jiangsu Province of China is famous for the large and labyrinthine grotto of taihu rock at the garden's center. The name of the garden derives from the shape of these rocks which are said to resemble lions...

 in Suzhou. It was built in 1342, and took its name from the collection of fantastic and grotesque assemblies of rocks, taken from Lake Tai. Some of them were said to look like the heads of lions. The Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong each visited the garden several times, and used it as model for their own summer garden, the Garden of Perfect Splendor, at Chenge.

The Yuan Dynasty did not last long. In 1368 the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, Zhu Yuanzhang, marched his armies to Dadu. The last Yuan Emperor fled, and Zhu Yuanzhang burned down the Yuan palaces.

Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)


The most famous existing garden from the Ming Dynasty is the Humble Administrator's Garden
Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden is a renowned Chinese garden in Suzhou. At 51,950 m2, it is the largest garden in Suzhou and is generally considered to be the finest garden in all of southern China...

 in Suzhou. It was built during the reign of the Emperor Zhengde (1506-1521) by Wang Xianchen, a minor government administrator who retired from government service and devoted himself to his garden. The garden has been much altered since it was built, but the central part has survived; a large pond full of lotus blossoms, surrounded by structures and pavilions designed as viewpoints of the lake and gardens. The park has an island, The Fragrant Isle, shaped like a boat. It also makes good use of the principle of the "borrowed view," (jiejing) carefully framing views of the surrounding mountains and a famous view of a distant pagoda.Feng Chaoxiong, The Classical Gardens of Suzhou, pg. 6

Another existing garden from the Ming Dynasty is the Lingering Garden
Lingering Garden
Lingering Garden is a renowned classical Chinese garden. It is located at 338 Liuyuan Rd. Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China . It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1997, the garden, along with other classical gardens in Suzhou, was recorded by...

, also in Suzhou, built during the reign of the Emperor Wanli
Wanli
Wanli may refer to:* Wanli Emperor , Chinese emperor of the Ming Dynasty* Wanli District , district of Nanchang, Jiangxi, People's Republic of China* Wanli District, New Taipei , a district in New Taipei City, Republic of China...

 (1573-1620). During the Quing Dynasty twelve tall limestone rocks were added to the garden, symbolizing mountains. The most famous was a picturesque rock called the Auspicious Cloud-Capped Peak, which became a centerpiece of the garden.

A third existing Ming garden in Suzhou is the Garden of Cultivation
Garden of Cultivation
The Garden of Cultivation located at No.5 Wenya Nong in Suzhou city, of Jiangsu Province, China. It is one of the best preserved examples of a Ming Dynasty classical garden in Suzhou...

, built during the reign of the Emperor Tianqi (1621-27) by the grandson of Wen Zhengming
Wen Zhengming
Wen Zhengming was a leading Ming Dynasty painter, calligrapher, and scholar.Born in present-day Suzhou, he claimed to be a descendant of the Song Dynasty prime minister and patriot Wen Tianxiang. Wen’s family was originally from Hengyang, Hunan, where his family had established itself shortly...

, a famous Ming painter and calligrapher. The garden is built around a pond, with the Longevity Pavilion on the north side, the Fry Pavilion on the east side, a dramatic rock garden on the south, and the creator's study, the Humble House, to the west.

Qing Dynasty (1644–1912)



The Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 was the last Chinese Dynasty. The most famous gardens in China during this period were the gardens of the two Imperial Palaces, the Summer Palace
Summer Palace
The Summer Palace is a palace in Beijing, China. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water....

 in Beijing and the Old Summer Palace
Old Summer Palace
The Old Summer Palace, known in China as Yuan Ming Yuan , and originally called the Imperial Gardens, was a complex of palaces and gardens in Beijing...

 north of Beijing. Both gardens became symbols of luxury and refinement, and were widely described by European visitors. Their construction and improvement consumed a large part of the imperial treasury. The Empress Cixi
Cixi
Cixi may refer to:*Empress Dowager Cixi , empress of the Qing Dynasty*Cixi City, in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China...

 famously diverted money intended for the modernization of the Chinese Navy and used it to to restore the Imperial garden and to build a marble teahouse in the shape of boat on Lake Kunming. Both gardens were destroyed by the Boxer Rebellion and by punitive expeditions of European armies during the nineteenth century, but are now gradually being restored.

Existing scholar gardens from this period include the Couple's Retreat Garden
Couple's Retreat Garden
Couple's Retreat Garden located in Suzhou city, Jiangsu province, China is a famous classical Chinese garden. It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.-History:...

 (1723-1736) and the Retreat & Reflection Garden
Retreat & Reflection Garden
The Retreat & Reflection Garden is a notable classical garden in China. It is located in Tongli, Wujiang, Jiangsu, China. In 2001, it was recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site....

 (1885), both in Suzhou.

Design of the classlcal Chinese garden


A Chinese garden was not meant to be seen all at once; the plan of a classical Chinese garden presented the visitor with a series of perfectly composed and framed glimpses of scenery; a view of a pond, or of a rock, or a grove of bamboo, a blossoming tree, or a view of a distant mountain peak or a pagoda. The 16th century Chinese writer and philosopher Ji Cheng
Ji Cheng
Ji Cheng was a Ming dynasty garden designer.Ji Cheng was born in the Ming Wanli Reign 10th year in Tong Li township, Wujiang county, Suzhou....

 instructed instructed garden builders to "hide the vulgar and the common as far as the eye can see, and include the excellent and the splendid."

Chinese classical gardens varied greatly in size. The largest garden in Suzhou, the Humble Administrator's Garden
Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden is a renowned Chinese garden in Suzhou. At 51,950 m2, it is the largest garden in Suzhou and is generally considered to be the finest garden in all of southern China...

, was a little over ten hectares in area, with one fifth of the garden occupied by the pond. But they did not have to be large. Ji Cheng
Ji Cheng
Ji Cheng was a Ming dynasty garden designer.Ji Cheng was born in the Ming Wanli Reign 10th year in Tong Li township, Wujiang county, Suzhou....

 built a garden for Wu Youyu, the Treasurer of the Jinling Province, that was just under one hectare in size, and the tour of the garden was only four hundred steps long from the entrance to the last viewing point, but Wu Youyu said it contained all the marvels of the province in a single place.

The classical garden was surrounded by a wall, usually painted white, which served as a pure backdrop for the flowers and trees. A pond of water was usually located in the center. Many structures, large and small, were arranged around the pond. In the garden described by Ji Cheng above, the structures occupied two-thirds of the hectare, while the garden itself occuped the other third. In a scholar garden the central building was usually a library or study, connected by galleries with other pavilions which served as observation points of the garden features. These structures also helped divide the garden into individual scenes or landscapes. The other essential elements of a scholar garden were plants, trees, and rocks, all carefully composed into small perfect landscapes. Scholar gardens also often used what was called "borrowed" scenery (借景 jiejing) ; where unexpected views of scenery outside the garden, such as mountain peaks, seemed to be an extension of the garden itself.

Architecture



Chinese gardens were filled with architecture; halls, pavilions, temples, galleries, bridges, kiosks, and towers. The Humble Administrator's Garden
Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden is a renowned Chinese garden in Suzhou. At 51,950 m2, it is the largest garden in Suzhou and is generally considered to be the finest garden in all of southern China...

 in Suzhou had forty eight structures, including a residence, several halls for for family gatherings and entertainment, eighteen pavilions for viewing different features of the garden, and an assortment of towers, galleries, and bridges, all designed for seeing different parts of the gardens from different points of view.

Architecture is the one of the primary elements of design. The garden structures generally didn't dominate the landscape, but were designed to be in harmony with its surroundings. These structures were sometimes intended to exude a rustic feel of a fisherman's hut or hermit's retreat. In Chinese landscape paintings one could often see, for example, a small human figure along a hermit's hut lost in the vastness of the surrounding mountains and mist; the pavilions were similar in that way to invite, signify, and celebrate the habitation of the world. The location of where the pavilions were built is a consideration. Pavilions were built to fully express the beauty of the garden scene, such as where the dawn could best be watched, where the moonlight shone on the water, where autumn foliage was seen to advantage, or where the wind whistled through the bamboo stalks. Bridges are often built from rough timber or stone-slab raised pathways. Chinese gardens can also traditionally have brightly painted or lacquered bridges, which may evoke a lighthearted feeling to the garden. There are various types of bridges and some well-known types that originated from China are the red lacquered arched bridges, moon bridge
Moon bridge
A moon bridge is a highly arched pedestrian bridge, which in its wooden form may require the walker to initially climb and also when descending. This type is associated with gardens in China and Japan...

s, and many others. Dynamic scenes may be seen from a path, but is the location of the building, however, that determines the circulation of paths. The path itself can become architectonic by the addition of roof and screen walls. These screen walls often have moon gate
Moon gate
A Moon Gate is a circular opening in a garden wall that acts as a pedestrian passageway, and a traditional architectural element in Chinese gardens. Moon Gates have many different spiritual meanings for every piece of tile on the gate and on the shape of it...

s (moon-shaped doorways) and small windows in the shapes of vases and apples.

Rock


The first application of rocks, recorded in Chinese history, was found in Tu Yuan (literally Rabbit Garden), built during the Western Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 period (206 BCE – 9 CE). Rocks were gathered from afar and became a decorative feature in the Chinese garden. Connoisseurship developed in connection with their color, shape, and placement. Decorative Chinese scholar's rocks
Chinese scholar's rocks
Chinese scholars' rocks or Gongshi , also known as scholar stones or viewing stones, are small shaped or naturally occurring rocks appreciated by Chinese scholars from the Song dynasty onwards, and quite frequently found in traditional Chinese gardens.The most highly regarded stones are lingbi...

, are used both for structural and sculptural purposes. The sculptural Taihu rock is especially prized because it represents wisdom and immortality, and is only procurable from Tai Lake
Tai Lake
Lake Tai, or Tai Lake or Lake Taihu, is a large lake in the Yangtze Delta plain, on the border of the Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces Eastern China. The waters of the lake belong to the former in its entirety with part of its southern shore forming the boundary between the two provinces...

, just west of Suzhou
Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

. Such rocks, combined with streams and pools, form the basis of a garden's plan. The Chinese word for landscape, shan shui, literally means "mountains and waters" while a common phrase for making a garden means "digging ponds and piling mountains".

Water



Chinese gardens usually feature a central pond and several offshooting streams. The softness of water offsets the solidity of the rocks, while also acting to reflect the constantly changing sky above. Goldfishes
Goldfish
The goldfish is a freshwater fish in the family Cyprinidae of order Cypriniformes. It was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, and is one of the most commonly kept aquarium fish....

 are often raised in Chinese gardens. Various forms of bridges are constructed to traverse over the various ponds or streams, and lakeside pavilions are often constructed along the water edge.

Plants



Many garden plants have essential symbolism. Pine trees represent wisdom and bamboo represents strength and upright morality. Plum trees are also extremely valuable to the Chinese for their beautiful pink and white blooms during winter. Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemums, often called mums or chrysanths, are of the genus constituting approximately 30 species of perennial flowering plants in the family Asteraceae which is native to Asia and northeastern Europe.-Etymology:...

s were also extremely well loved because of their autumn bloom (when most plants wither and die) and symbolize the perfect Confucian scholar. Peonies symbolize wealth and power, and the lotus symbolizes purity (and is also a revered Buddhist plant). Climbing roses
Rosa banksiae
Rosa banksiae, commonly referred to as the Lady Banks' Rose, is a species of Rosa native to central and western China, in the provinces of Gansu, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Sichuan, and Yunnan; it grows in mountains at altitudes of 500–2200 m....

, camellias, ginkgos, magnolias, jasmine
Jasmine
Jasminum , commonly known as jasmines, is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family . It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions of the Old World...

, willows, sweet osmanthus
Sweet Osmanthus
Osmanthus fragrans is a species of Osmanthus native to Asia, from the Himalaya east through southern China and to Taiwan and to southern Japan...

, and maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

s were also planted.
The plum blossom is one of the "Four Junzi Flowers
Four Gentlemen
The Four Gentlemen, also called the Four Noble Ones, in Chinese art refers to four plants: the orchid, the bamboo, the chrysanthemum, and the plum blossom. The term compares the four plants to Confucianist junzi, or "gentlemen"...

" (四君子) in China (the others being orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo) and symbolized nobleness. The Chinese see the blossoms as more of a symbol for winter rather than a harbinger of spring. It is precisely for this reason that the blossoms are so beloved, because they bloom most vibrantly amidst the winter snow while all other flowers have long since succumbed to the cold and died. Thus, they are seen as an example of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity, and thus has also been used as a metaphor to symbolize revolutionary struggle. Because they blossom in winter, the plum, the pine, and the bamboo together have been called the "Three Friends of Winter
Three Friends of Winter
The Three Friends of Winter, also known as Suihan Sanyou, are the pine, bamboo, and plum. Every year, as the cold days deepen into the winter season, many plants begin to wither. That the pine, bamboo and plum do not was noted by the Chinese. Known by them as Three Friends of Winter, they entered...

" (歲寒三友). Trimming and root pruning, if done, are in a style inspired by the observed natural growth and never in geometric forms. Trees are shaped in the way of the grotesque and balanced that may or may not have experienced the hardship of a harsh environment.

Other


The pavement of a Chinese Scholar's Garden might include intricate natural patterns or simply dirt depending on the wealth and mission of the owner. Decoration consists of calligraphy carved into rocks or walls, and lattice windows. Some windows have the shape of different objects such as apples, pears, circles, pentagons etc.

Aesthetics



The aesthetics of the garden are judged by its conception, approach, layout, scenes, and borrowing. The measure of how well the garden reflects the "artistic conception" (yijing), like a painting or poem, is considered an important aspect, where the designer thinks about the creative methods, which were often borrowed from those arts, before the actual process of constructing the garden. The approach describes how the garden may express the idea of nature beyond the theme. The layout is the use of multiple layers of scenery to create a sense of the infinite in the finite. The scene is how well paired two opposite scene are and how they create harmony. Finally the Chinese principle of "borrowed scenery" will be considered in which the garden gets incorporated with the surrounding landscape as a whole, so one could gaze beyond the distance at the mountains and streams as an extension of the garden.

The basic form of the garden is created by ponds and mounds. China is mostly covered in mountains, thus they have occupied a special place in the collective imagination since the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 era. The mountain in the Chinese imagination is magical place. An axis mundi
Axis mundi
The axis mundi , in religion or mythology, is the world center and/or the connection between heaven and Earth. As the celestial pole and geographic pole, it expresses a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet...

 where ancient wise men live on a diet of minerals and rare high altitude herbs. These men called immortals have access to knowledge and skills unknown to ordinary men. A mountain of the right type is a dragon of Qi
Qi
In traditional Chinese culture, qì is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qi is frequently translated as life energy, lifeforce, or energy flow. Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts...

 and all its associated benefits. In myth certain mountains are themselves sacred. The elaborate grottoes of rock serve the same function, a small piece of the mountain through which to stroll, full of caves where immortals live. The pits dug to heap these mounds are used as ponds and streams. With the right properties such a pond may be the home of a dragon of Qi
Qi
In traditional Chinese culture, qì is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qi is frequently translated as life energy, lifeforce, or energy flow. Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts...

. The pavilions are placed in this landscape of mounds and ponds at auspicious points. Together the mound, pond, and pavilion create the primary form of the garden. A secondary layer is created by plants. In literature this secondary role is well attested. Finally, individual Taihu rock is added for accent, like sculpture in a European garden.

The Chinese classical gardens has four major elements to take into consideration, which are water, rocks, plants, and architecture. The garden is composed in a such way to reflect the garden's sequential beauty, such as the passage of time, contrast between day and night, and the transition of seasons, which form an important part of the experience of the garden.
Naturalistic planting designs have long dominated various aspects of Chinese garden styles. It emphasizes naturalistic beauty and avoids straight lines or geometric shapes, showing a tendency for creating poetic and picturesque scenes. The principle of the design was that the landscape was arranged in such a way so that one could pleasantly wander through the garden from one view to another, each view capturing the pleasure given to the appropiate situation. The goal was to incorporate the rusticity and spontaneity existing in nature with the garden. The kind of garden that became prevalent was generally one in which the landscape was balanced with complementary features. The harmonious arrangement of various elements are important to consider in the design, where contrasting elements were placed in juxtaposition so that the aspects of yin and yang
Yin and yang
In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

 could come to expression, in which seemingly opposites are interdependent in the natural world.

Over the span of several millenia, the Chinese people developed a distinct garden aesthetic. The gardens were intended to evoke the idyllic feeling of being in the larger natural world, so that one could capture the sensations of wandering through the landscape. Garden designers have sought out ways to emulate nature for the appreciation of true harmony between man and nature. Eventually, the garden design became considered an artform in itself. The classical gardens are strongly associated with poetry and painting. As many designers were well educated in poetry and painting, this brought forth a style in which gardens were designed with an atmosphere of pictorial and poetic feeling in the pursuit of natural beauty. It became required to integrate the garden architecture with the landscape in one unity. The garden aesthetics have been influenced by the Daoist philosophy
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 where enlightment could be reached by contemplation of the unity of creation, in which order and harmony are inherent to the natural world. Therefore, the garden is considered as the ideal place of contemplation when the work of man and nature came together as one. It became a way to feel close to nature and the ancient way of life.

An example of such influence can be found in the West Lake
West Lake
Xī Hú is a famous fresh water lake located in the historic center of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province in eastern China. The lake is divided by the causeways of Sū Tí , Bái Tí , and Yánggōng Tí...

 of Hangzhou, which has long been a source of inspiration for Chinese poets, painters, and garden designers alike. It was described as having influenced garden design in East Asia throughout the centuries and is said to reflect an idealized fusion between humans and nature.

The intimate private gardens are associated with the scholar-gentleman and viewed as a reflection of the cultivation and aesthetic taste of the owner. After the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (206 BCE – 220 CE), due to Daoist ideals of disengagement from wordly concerns, gardens became more and more constructed as retreats where one could escape the pressures of a politically engaged civic life. The design of a garden drew on diverse fields, such as botany
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

, siting (fengshui), landscape design, architecture, and water management. The designer also had to be familiar with the poetic and painted landscapes of the past.

The Chinese garden serve multiple functions. It can be a place for solitude and contemplation, social gatherings, leisure, festivities, romance, cultivated pursuits (like painting, poetry, calligraphy, and music), study, and every day activities. The social and cultural importance of the garden is attested in Chinese literature
Chinese literature
Chinese literature extends thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the mature fictional novels that arose during the Ming Dynasty to entertain the masses of literate Chinese...

, such as in the classical novel Dream of the Red Chamber
Dream of the Red Chamber
Dream of the Red Chamber , composed by Cao Xueqin, is one of China's Four Great Classical Novels. It was composed in the middle of the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty. It is considered to be a masterpiece of Chinese vernacular literature and is generally acknowledged to be a pinnacle of...

by Cao Xueqin
Cao Xueqin
Cao Xueqin was a Qing Dynasty Chinese writer, best known as the author of Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature...

 which unfolds almost exclusively in a garden.

Asia


The Japanese were aware of the Chinese garden landscaping as early as the 6th century and the influence of Chinese gardens had reached through Korea to Japan by 600 CE. In 607, Emperor Yang of Sui
Emperor Yang of Sui
Emperor Yang of Sui , personal name Yang Guang , alternative name Ying , nickname Amo , known as Emperor Ming during the brief reign of his grandson Yang Tong), was the second son of Emperor Wen of Sui, and the second emperor of China's Sui Dynasty.Emperor Yang's original name was Yang Ying, but...

 constructed his landscape parks near the Chinese capital Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

. Japanese ambassadors, such as Ono no Imoko
Ono no Imoko
was a Japanese politician and diplomat in the late 6th and early 7th century, during the Asuka period.Ono was appointed by Empress Suiko as an official envoy to the Sui court in 607 , and he delivered the famous letter from Japan's Prince Shōtoku which began "The Son of Heaven where the sun rises...

 (envoy of the Japanese Empress Suiko
Empress Suiko
was the 33rd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Suiko's reign spanned the years from 593 until her death in 628....

 to the Chinese Sui court
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

), were astonished with these royal parks, but before that they had not actually seen the the landscape art which they learned of through contacts with Korea. Ono no Imoko
Ono no Imoko
was a Japanese politician and diplomat in the late 6th and early 7th century, during the Asuka period.Ono was appointed by Empress Suiko as an official envoy to the Sui court in 607 , and he delivered the famous letter from Japan's Prince Shōtoku which began "The Son of Heaven where the sun rises...

's reports about what he saw were important, because the parks had profound influence on the development of Japanese landscape design. During the Nara period
Nara period
The of the history of Japan covers the years from AD 710 to 794. Empress Gemmei established the capital of Heijō-kyō . Except for 5 years , when the capital was briefly moved again, it remained the capital of Japanese civilization until Emperor Kammu established a new capital, Nagaoka-kyō, in 784...

 (710-794), Japanese Shinto
Shinto
or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the Japanese people. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written...

 worshippers encountered the gardens of the capital in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and these gardens were carefully recreated in Japan.

Europe



The first European to describe a Chinese garden was the Venetian merchant and traveler Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

, who visited the summer palace of the Mongo
Mongo
-Geographic:* Mongo, Chad, a city* Mongo, Sierra Leone, a chiefdom* Mongo, Indiana, a small town in the United States* Mongo , the fictional setting for the adventures of Flash Gordon-People:...

l ruler of China and founder of the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

, Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

, at Xanadu
Xanadu
-Description of Xanadu by Toghon Temur :The lament of Toghon Temur Khan , concerning the loss of Daidu and Heibun Shanduu in 1368, is recorded in many Mongolian historical chronicles...

. He described it as follows:

"Round this Palace a wall is built, inclosing a compass of 16 miles, and
inside the Park there are fountains and rivers and brooks, and beautiful
meadows, with all kinds of wild animals (excluding such as are of
ferocious nature), which the Emperor has procured and placed there to
supply food for his gerfalcons and hawks, which he keeps there in mew. Of
these there are more than 200 gerfalcons alone, without reckoning the
other hawks. The Khan himself goes every week to see his birds sitting in
mew, and sometimes he rides through the park with a leopard behind him on
his horse's croup; and then if he sees any animal that takes his fancy, he
slips his leopard at it, and the game when taken is made over to
feed the hawks in mew. This he does for diversion."


The garden of Kublai Khan had a later effect on European culture; In 1797, it inspired the romantic poem, Kubla Khan
Kubla Khan
Kubla Khan is a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, completed in 1797 and published in Christabel, Kubla Khan, and the Pains of Sleep in 1816...

, by the English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

.

Marco Polo also described the gardens of the Imperial Palace in Cambaluc, the Mongol name for the city which eventually became Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

. He described ramparts, balustrades and pavilions surrounding a deep lake full of fish and with swans and other aquatic birds; whose central feature was a manmade hill one hundred steps high and a thousand steps around, covered with evergreen trees and decorated with green azurite stones.

The first Jesuit priest, Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta was a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a student of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits, dedicated at Montmartre in 1534...

, arrived in China in 1552, and the priest Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ was an Italian Jesuit priest, and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China Mission, as it existed in the 17th-18th centuries. His current title is Servant of God....

 received permission to settle in Beijing in 1601. Jesuit priests began sending accounts of Chinese culture and gardens to Europe. Louis Le Comte
Louis le Comte
Louis le Comte , also Louis-Daniel Lecomte, was a French Jesuit who participated in the 1687 French Jesuit mission to China under Jean de Fontaney. He arrived in China on 7 February 1688....

, the mathematician to the King of France, travelled to China in 1685. He described how the Chinese gardens had grottos, artificial hills and rocks piled to imitate nature, and did not arrange their gardens geometrically.

In the 18th century, as Chinese vases and other decorative objects began to arrive in Europe, there was a surge of popularity for Chinoiserie
Chinoiserie
Chinoiserie, a French term, signifying "Chinese-esque", and pronounced ) refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences...

, The painters Watteau, and Francois Boucher
François Boucher
François Boucher was a French painter, a proponent of Rococo taste, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories representing the arts or pastoral occupations, intended as a sort of two-dimensional furniture...

 painted Chinese scenes as they imagined them, and Catherine the Great decorated a room in her palace in the Chinese style. There was great interest in everything Chinsese, including gardens.

In 1738 , the French Jesuit missionary and painter Jean Denis Attiret
Jean Denis Attiret
Jean Denis Attiret was a French Jesuit painter and missionary to China.Jean Denis Attiret studied art in Rome and made himself a name as a portrait painter. While a Jesuit novice, he did paintings in the Cathedral of Avignon and the Sodality Chapel....

, went to China, where he became court painter to the Emperor of China. He described in great detail what he saw in the imperial gardens near Beijing:
"One comes out of a valley, not by a straight wide alley as in Europe, but by zigzags, by roundabout paths, each one ornamented with small pavilions and grottos, and when you exit one valley you find yourself in another, different from the first in the form of the landscape or the style of the buildings. All the mountains and hills are covered with flowering trees, which are very common here. It is a true terrestrial paradise. The cannals are not at all like ours- bordered with cut stone- they are rustic, with pieces of rock, some leaning forward, some backwards, placed with such art you would think they were natural. Sometimes a canal is wide, sometimes narrow. Here they twist, there they curve, as if they were really created by the hills and rocks. The edges are planted with flowers in rock gardens, which seem to have been created by nature. Each season has its own flowers. Aside from the canals, everywhere there are paths paved with small stones, which lead from one valley to the other. These paths also twist and turn, sometimes coming close to the canals, sometimes far away."


Attiret wrote:
"Everything is truly great and beautiful, both as to the design and the execution: and [the gardens] struck me the more, because I had never seen any thing that bore any manner of resemblance to them, in any part of the world that I had been before."


The Chinese Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) was equally interested in what was going on in Europe. He commissioned the Jesuit priest Father Castiglione, who was trained in engineering, to build fountains for his garden similar to those he had heard about in the gardens at Versailles
Versailles
Versailles , a city renowned for its château, the Palace of Versailles, was the de facto capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. It is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and remains an important administrative and judicial centre...

.


Chinese architecture and aesthetics also influenced the English garden. In 1685, the English diplomat and writer Sir William Temple wrote an essay Upon the garden of Epicurus (published in 1692), which contrasted European theories of symmetrical gardens with asymmetrical compositions from China. Temple had never visited China, but he had read the works of European travelers there. He noted that Chinese gardens avoided formal rows of trees and flower beds, and instead placed trees, plants, and other garden features in irregular ways to strike the eye and create beautiful compositions. His observations on the Chinese garden were cited by the essayist Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison was an English essayist, poet, playwright and politician. He was a man of letters, eldest son of Lancelot Addison...

 in an essay in 1712, who used them to attack the English gardeners who, instead of imitating nature, tried to make their gardens in the French style, as far from nature as possible.

The English landscape garden was already well-established in England in the first part of the 18th century, influenced by the travel to Italy by the British upper class and their desire to have a new style of garden to match the Palladian style of architecture they chose for their country houses, and by the romantic landscapes of Claude Lorraine and other painters, but the novelty and exoticism of Chinese art and architecture in Europe led in 1738 to the construction of the first Chinese house in an English garden, at Stowe House
Stowe House
Stowe House is a Grade I listed country house located in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, England. It is the home of Stowe School, an independent school. The gardens , a significant example of the English Landscape Garden style, along with part of the Park, passed into the ownership of The National Trust...

, alongside Roman temples, Gothic ruins and other architectural styles.
The style became even more popular thanks to William Chambers
William Chambers (architect)
Sir William Chambers was a Scottish architect, born in Gothenburg, Sweden, where his father was a merchant. Between 1740 and 1749 he was employed by the Swedish East India Company making several voyages to China where he studied Chinese architecture and decoration.Returning to Europe, he studied...

 (1723–1796), who lived in China from 1745 to 1747, and wrote a book, The Drawings, buildings, furniture, habits, machines and untensils of the Chinese, published in 1757. He urged western garden designers to use Chinese stylistic conventions such as concealment, asymmetry, and naturalism. Later, in 1772, Chambers published his Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, a rather fanciful elaboration of contemporary ideas about the naturalistic style of gardening in China.

Chambers was a fierce critic of Capability Brown
Capability Brown
Lancelot Brown , more commonly known as Capability Brown, was an English landscape architect. He is remembered as "the last of the great English eighteenth-century artists to be accorded his due", and "England's greatest gardener". He designed over 170 parks, many of which still endure...

, the leading designer of the English landscape garden, which Chambers considered boring. Chambers believed that gardens should be full of surprises. In 1761 he built a Chinese pagoda, house and garden in Kew Gardens, London, along with a mosque, a temple of the sun, a ruined arch, and Palladian bridge. Thanks to Chambers Chinese structures began to appear in other English gardens, then in France and elsewhere on the continent. Carmontelle added a Chinese pavillion to his garden at Parc Monceau
Parc Monceau
Parc Monceau is a semi-public park situated in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France, at the junction of Boulevard de Courcelles, Rue de Prony and Rue Georges Berger. At the main entrance is a rotunda. The park covers an area of 8.2 hectares ....

 in Paris (1772), and the Duc de Choiseul built a pagoda on his estate at Chanteloup
Chanteloup
Chanteloup is the name or part of the name of several communes in France:*Chanteloup, in the Eure département*Chanteloup, in the Ille-et-Vilaine département*Chanteloup, in the Manche département...

 between 1775-1778. The Russian Empress Catherine the Great built her own pagoda in the garden of her palace of Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the town containing a former Russian residence of the imperial family and visiting nobility, located south from the center of St. Petersburg. It is now part of the town of Pushkin and of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.-History:In...

, near Saint Petersburg, betwen 1778 and 1786. Many continental critics disliked the term English Garden, so they began to use the term 'Anglo-Chinois" to describe the style. By the end of the nineteenth century parks all over Europe had picturesque Chinese pagodas, pavillions or bridges, but there were few gardens that expressed the more subtle and profound aesthetics of the real Chinese garden.

The classical gardens of Suzhou


Suzhou
Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

 is located in the south-eastern part of Jiangsu Province. When the Grand Canal
Grand Canal
Grand Canal can refer to multiple waterways:* Grand Canal in eastern China* Grand Canal in Venice, Italy* Grand Canal , between the river Shannon and Dublin in Ireland* Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France...

 linking many older canals in China was constructed during the Sui dynasty
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

, Suzhou prospered, becoming a center of the silk trade. During the Song dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

, nearby Hangzhou
Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

 became the imperial capital and Suzhou grew as well, a convenient retreat for scholars, officials and merchants.

Gardening in Suzhou reached its height during the Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 and Qing
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 dynasties. Suzhou became the center for a garden supply industry. It is for the reason the gardens of Suzhou are considered classical standards of design. There were over 280 private gardens then in Suzhou and landscaping became an art with established masters. The mild climate, along with 230 frost-free days and around 43 inches (1,092.2 mm) of rain annually the area is perfect for gardening endeavors. Sixty-nine gardens in and around Suzhou are preserved as important national cultural heritage sites. In 1997, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 added four of the largest private gardens of Suzhou to the World Heritage List, and in 2000 UNESCO added the historic section of the city and five more gardens in Suzhou as extensions to the World Heritage Site.

Famous Suzhou garden designers include Zhang Liang
Zhang Liang
Zhang Liang , style name Zifang , was a strategist and statesman of the early Han Dynasty. He is also known as one of the "Three Heroes of the early Han Dynasty" , along with Han Xin and Xiao He...

, Ji Cheng
Ji Cheng
Ji Cheng was a Ming dynasty garden designer.Ji Cheng was born in the Ming Wanli Reign 10th year in Tong Li township, Wujiang county, Suzhou....

, Ge Yuliang, and Chen Congzhou.
EnglishChinese
Humble Administrator's Garden
Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden is a renowned Chinese garden in Suzhou. At 51,950 m2, it is the largest garden in Suzhou and is generally considered to be the finest garden in all of southern China...

拙政园
Lingering Garden
Lingering Garden
Lingering Garden is a renowned classical Chinese garden. It is located at 338 Liuyuan Rd. Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China . It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1997, the garden, along with other classical gardens in Suzhou, was recorded by...

留园
Master of the Nets Garden
Master of the Nets Garden
The Master of the Nets Garden in Suzhou is among the finest gardens in China. It is located at Canglang District, Dai Cheng Qiao Road, No. 11 Kuo Jia Tou Xiang . It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site...

网师园 清 十全街
Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty
Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty
Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty is located on 272 Jingde Rd., inside the Embroidery Museum, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province...

环秀山庄 清 景德路
Great Wave Pavilion 沧浪亭 宋 人民路三元坊
Lion Grove Garden
Lion Grove Garden
The Lion Grove Garden located at 23 Yuanlin Road Suzhou City, of Jiangsu Province of China is famous for the large and labyrinthine grotto of taihu rock at the garden's center. The name of the garden derives from the shape of these rocks which are said to resemble lions...

狮子林 元 园林路
Garden of Cultivation
Garden of Cultivation
The Garden of Cultivation located at No.5 Wenya Nong in Suzhou city, of Jiangsu Province, China. It is one of the best preserved examples of a Ming Dynasty classical garden in Suzhou...

艺圃 明 文衙弄
Couple's Retreat Garden
Couple's Retreat Garden
Couple's Retreat Garden located in Suzhou city, Jiangsu province, China is a famous classical Chinese garden. It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.-History:...

耦园
Retreat & Reflection Garden
Retreat & Reflection Garden
The Retreat & Reflection Garden is a notable classical garden in China. It is located in Tongli, Wujiang, Jiangsu, China. In 2001, it was recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site....

退思园 同里

See also


  • List of Chinese gardens
  • Penjing
    Penjing
    Penjing , also known as penzai , tray landscape, potted scenery, potted landscape, and miniature trees and rockery is the ancient Chinese art of growing trees and plants, kept small by skilled pruning and formed to create an aesthetic shape and the complex illusion of age...

  • Ji Cheng
    Ji Cheng
    Ji Cheng was a Ming dynasty garden designer.Ji Cheng was born in the Ming Wanli Reign 10th year in Tong Li township, Wujiang county, Suzhou....


External links