UPD An Old Chinese Garden: A Three-fold Masterpiece of Poetry, Calligraphy and Painting - A Cultural and Artistic Treasure
UPD An Old Chinese Garden: A Three-fold Masterpiece of Poetry, Calligraphy and Painting
If you are looking for a place to appreciate the beauty and wisdom of traditional Chinese culture, you might want to visit UPD An Old Chinese Garden in Suzhou, China. This garden is not only a stunning example of classical Chinese garden design, but also a showcase of the three arts that are essential to Chinese aesthetics: poetry, calligraphy and painting. In this article, we will explore how this garden was created, what features it has, and why it is considered a three-fold masterpiece.
UPD An Old Chinese Garden: A Three-fold Masterpiece Of Poetry, Calligraphy And Painting
What is a Chinese garden?
A Chinese garden is a landscape garden style that has evolved over three thousand years. It aims to recreate natural scenery in miniature, using elements such as water, rocks, plants, buildings and ornaments. A Chinese garden is not just a place for leisure and enjoyment, but also a reflection of the harmony that should exist between man and nature. It also expresses the philosophical, literary and artistic ideals of its creators.
What is UPD?
UPD stands for UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a designation given by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to places that have outstanding universal value for humanity. These places are protected by international treaties and conventions, and are recognized as part of the common heritage of mankind. There are currently 1,121 UPD sites in 167 countries, covering various categories such as cultural, natural and mixed sites.
What are the three arts of poetry, calligraphy and painting?
Poetry, calligraphy and painting are considered the three perfections or three excellences in Chinese culture. They are closely related to each other, as they share the same medium (paper or silk), tools (brush and ink) and principles (balance, rhythm and harmony). Poetry is the art of using words to express emotions and thoughts. Calligraphy is the art of writing characters with grace and elegance. Painting is the art of depicting images with strokes and colors. Together, they form a comprehensive system of artistic expression that reflects the personality and cultivation of the artist.
The History and Features of UPD An Old Chinese Garden
When and where was it built?
UPD An Old Chinese Garden is located in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. Suzhou is a historic city that was founded in the 6th century BCE as the capital of the Wu Kingdom. It is famous for its classical gardens, which are regarded as masterpieces of Chinese garden design. There are more than 50 gardens in Suzhou, nine of which are listed as UPD sites by UNESCO.
UPD An Old Chinese Garden was built in 1859 by Xu Shiyuan (徐士元), a wealthy salt merchant who retired from his business at the age of 50. He bought an old residence that belonged to a Ming dynasty official, and transformed it into a garden. He named it Yi Yuan (怡园), which means "Garden of Pleasure". He invited many scholars, poets and artists to visit his garden, and hosted literary and artistic gatherings there. He also collected many antiques, paintings and calligraphy works, and displayed them in his garden.
Who were the owners and designers of the garden?
Xu Shiyuan was not only the owner, but also the designer of the garden. He was a well-educated and well-traveled man, who had a keen interest in gardening and art. He studied the classics of Chinese literature, history and philosophy, and was familiar with the styles and techniques of various schools of painting and calligraphy. He also visited many famous gardens in China, such as the Imperial Gardens in Beijing, the Humble Administrator's Garden in Suzhou, and the Lingering Garden in Suzhou. He learned from their merits and flaws, and applied his own creativity and taste to his own garden.
Xu Shiyuan also hired several professional gardeners and craftsmen to help him build the garden. They followed his instructions and suggestions, and used their skills and experience to create a harmonious and elegant landscape. They used local materials such as Taihu rocks, yellow clay bricks, bamboo, pine trees and plum blossoms. They also incorporated elements from other regions, such as peonies from Luoyang, lotuses from Hangzhou, orchids from Guangdong, and chrysanthemums from Kaifeng.
How does the garden reflect the three arts?
The garden is divided into four sections: the east section, the west section, the north section and the south section. Each section has its own theme and style, but they are connected by corridors, bridges and gates. The garden covers an area of 2.2 hectares (5.4 acres), and has more than 40 buildings, 20 rockeries, 10 ponds and 200 plants.
The east section is the main part of the garden, where Xu Shiyuan lived and entertained his guests. It has a large pond in the center, surrounded by pavilions, terraces, halls and studios. The pond is named "Mirror of Sky", as it reflects the changing colors of the sky and the seasons. The buildings are named after poems or phrases that describe their functions or views, such as "Hall of Gathering Excellence", "Pavilion of Surging Waves", "Studio of Green Pines" and "Terrace of Fragrant Snow". The buildings are decorated with paintings and calligraphy works by famous artists from different dynasties, such as Wang Xizhi (王羲之), Mi Fu (米芾), Dong Qichang (董其昌) and Zheng Banqiao (郑板桥). The paintings depict landscapes, flowers, birds, animals and figures, while the calligraphy works express poems, proverbs, stories and inscriptions.
The west section is the smallest part of the garden, but it has the most exquisite rockeries. It has a pond named "Pool of Jade", which is filled with lotus flowers in summer and goldfish in winter. The rockeries are made of Taihu rocks, which are porous limestone rocks that have unique shapes and textures. They are arranged to form mountains, caves, cliffs and waterfalls. The rockeries are named after their forms or meanings, such as "Rockery of Cloudy Peaks", "Rockery of Solitary Hill", "Rockery of Hidden Dragon" and "Rockery of Auspicious Clouds". The rockeries are also adorned with inscriptions that praise their beauty or convey moral lessons.
The north section is the most secluded part of the garden, where Xu Shiyuan practiced meditation and cultivation. It has a pond named "Pond of Tranquility", which is surrounded by bamboo groves, pine trees and plum blossoms. The pond has a small island in the middle, which is connected to the shore by a zigzag bridge. The island has a pavilion named "Pavilion of Listening to Orioles", where Xu Shiyuan listened to the birdsong in spring. The pavilion has a painting by Xu himself, which depicts an oriole perching on a plum branch.
The south section is the most spacious part of the garden, where Xu Shiyuan planted various flowers and fruits. It has a pond named "Pond of Fragrance", which is bordered by peonies, orchids, 71b2f0854b