Sunday, May 18, 2008

Zhuo-Zheng Yuan 拙政園

Suzhou is famous for its gardens. 拙政園 (Humble Administrator's Garden) is the largest and considered the finest garden in southern China. The garden belonged to a scholar in the Tang Dynasty. In the Yuan Dynasty it was a monastery. In the Ming Dynasty an administrator appropriated it as a private villa. The garden had been rebuilt extensively many times. So the way it looks today probably bears little resemblance to the earliest version. But it is supposed to resemble what it looked like in the late Qing Dynasty. This is my favourite place in the garden. An elegant study with windows opening onto a bamboo garden. I can sit here for hours, doing my calligraphy, reading or just daydreaming. Another one opens onto a row of bananas - it is just as good.

In the pavilion on top of the tallest hill in the garden, I found this window opening onto a view as beautiful as any painting. Low walls disappearing among trees. Makes one feel we are living in harmony with nature. The pavilion, the window, and the scenery were obviously planned that way carefully. There is a pleasing view at any spot in the garden, in any direction you look.

This is one of the most popular spots in the garden. From different angles, it is supposed to resemble a boat coming and going, a pavilion in the middle of the water, and a tower by the lake. It would be even better if the tourists were taken away. But I reminded myself I was also a tourist. I should be happy to be able to see it the way it was.


Liu Yunxia said...

This is one of my favorite gardens in Suzhou.

StephenC said...

Yeah, it is really beautiful. I would love to build one for myself if I can afford it. :)