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Special Edition 05/19/2014 World Heritage China Part 13 of 38 Classical Gardens of Suzhou


05-20-2014 04:31 BJT

Heritage value

The idea of freestyle landscape art

Chinese garden art, literature and paintings have a far-reaching history and have been particularly influenced by the free-style landscape art paintings during the Tang and Song Dynasties. Throughout its development history, Chinese gardens have developed into two series, royal and private gardens. Royal gardens are mainly located in Beijing and its surrounding areas, while private gardens are represented by Suzhou gardens. Due to differences in terms of political, economic and cultural status, as well as natural and geographical conditions, royal and private gardens have obviously different scales, layouts, styles, and colors. Royal gardens are usually large, grand, magnificent and solemn, while private gardens are small, exquisite and elegant, and also adopt a free style. As private gardens put more emphasize on the harmony between culture and art, royal gardens in its late development period also adopted many “freestyle” skills of private gardens in conception, design, architectural techniques and humanity.

Classical Gardens of Suzhou

Classical Gardens of Suzhou

Perfect housing conditions and living environment

The Classical Gardens of Suzhou are mansions combining houses and gardens. People can view, tour or live in these classical gardens. The formation of these gardens is a result of people being attached to nature, pursuing harmony between humans and nature and improving their living conditions in densely populated and natural landscape lacked cities. The Humble Administrator’s Garden, the Lingering Garden, the Master of the Nets Garden and the Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty, which have complete architectural types and are well-preserved, comprehensively and systematically show the layout, structure, form, style, color and decoration of the Classical Gardens of Suzhou.

The Classical Gardens of Suzhou are representations of the architecture in the southern area of the Yangtze River in the Ming and Qing dynasties (from the early 14th to 20th century), and reflect the high civilization of the southern area of the Yangtze River in this period. It influenced the architectural styles of the whole southern area of the Yangtze River, and was the leading influence in design, planning, layout, beauty and technique of folk architecture and reflects the scientific and technological level and artistic achievement of city construction during that time.

Rich social and cultural connotations

One important feature of the Classical Gardens of Suzhou is that it is not only a product of history and culture, but also is the carrier of traditional Chinese thinking and culture. This feature is reflected in the name of the halls, steles, couplets, stones, sculptures, decorations and other allegoric things in the gardens. These things are not only exquisite art pieces that decorate the garden, but also store a large number of historical, cultural, ideological and scientific information, and have rich material and spiritual content. Some of them reflect and spread the philosophical views and schools of thought of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, some advocate the philosophy of life and cultivate noble sentiments, while others decorate and render the landscape with the help of classical poetry and helps people relax during tours. The allegories show conceptual beauty and satisfy people’s spiritual desire. The collected and well-preserved works of famous calligraphers in ancient China are precious artworks and have high value as culture relics. In addition, as mansions combining houses and gardens, the architectural styles of the Classical Gardens of Suzhou reflect the lifestyle and manner as well as customs of ancient Chinese people who lived in the southern area of the Yangtze River. Furthermore, they are materials for learning and studying ancient folk customs in the southern area of the Yangtze River.

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