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Classical Gardens of China
Learn Chinese - History and Culture

 Classical Garden
Classical Chinese garden design, which intend to recreate natural landscapes in miniature, is nowhere better illustrated than in the nine gardens in the historic city of Suzhou (sū zhōu 苏州). They are generally acknowledged to be masterpieces of the genre. Dating from the 11th-19th century, the gardens reflect the profound metaphysical importance of natural beauty in Chinese culture in their meticulous (yì sī bù gǒu 一丝不苟) design.

Suzhou is China's well-known "city of gardens"(yuán lín chéng shì 园林城市), which tops all others in both the number and the artistry of gardens. Dating from Pi Jiang Garden (pì jiāng yuán 辟疆园) of the Eastern Jing Dynasty (dōng jìn 东晋), Suzhou's art of gardening has undergone a history of 1, 500 years. There were once over 200 gardens in the city,and 69 of them are still in good preservation today. The concept of Suzhou classical gardens has gone beyond the city limits,since it generally refers to all those private gardens built in the  south of the Yangtze River (cháng jiāng 长江).
 

Classical Garden
Classical Garden
Classical Garden
Classical Garden

The Suzhou garden originated from the desire to retire from the strife of officialdom (guān chǎng 官场) and to shun (bì miǎn 避免) from worldly affairs. It seeks the return to Nature and the cultivation of temperament (xìng qíng 性情). In Taoist (dào jiào 道教) philosophy and the refinement of culture underlies the theme of the garden. Hills and waters,flowers and trees,pavilion, terraces,towers and halls constitute the basic garden elements,while the prominent tone is expressed in the dark colour of roof tiles,the grey of bricks,and chestnut (lì shù 栗树) brown of wooden pillars.

Classical GardenSuzhou garden is the Nature in nutshell ,which enables one to "feel the charm of mountains,forest and springs without going out of the noisy surroundings of the town". Its human interest also lies in that the architect, philosopher, poet, painter, and common folk can all find in it the idea,the flavour,the lines and the rhythm. The unfolding of the garden vistas (yuǎn jǐng 远景) is the verisimilitude (bī zhēn 逼真) of a landscape scroll. When enjoying tea, poem,flower arrangement or playing musical instrument in the garden,one gains the most natural inspiration. To those tourists desiring to understand China, Suzhou garden is the best museum.

Local chronicles reveal that during its heyday (fán róng 繁荣), Suzhou city held nearly 200 gardens, topping the whole nation. Suzhou gardens have their own characteristics in layout, structure and style.The Four Classical Gardens of Suzhou, i.e.The Surging Waves Pavilion (cāng làng ting 沧浪亭), The Lion Grove Garden (shī zi lín 狮子林), The Humble Administrator's Garden (zhuō zhèng yuán 拙政园) and The Lingering Garden (liú yuán 留园) represent the different styles of Song (sòng 宋朝), Yuan (yuán 元朝), Ming (míng 明朝) and Qing (qīng 清朝) Dynasties.

中国古典园林
      中国古典园林是指以江南私家园林和北方皇家园林为代表的中国山水园林形式,在世界园林发展史上独树一帜,是全人类宝贵的历史文化遗产。苏州园林吸收了江南园林建筑艺术的精华,是中国优秀的文化遗产,理所当然被联合国列为人类与自然文化遗产。苏州园林善于把有限空间巧妙地组成变幻多端的景致,结构上以小巧玲珑取胜。素有“江南园林甲天下,苏州园林甲江南”之誉。
苏州古典园林的历史可上溯至公元前6世纪春秋时吴王的园囿,私家园林最早见于记载的是东晋(4世纪)的辟疆园,历代造园兴盛,名园日多。明清时期,苏州成为中国最繁华的地区,私家园林遍布古城内外。16~18世纪全盛时期,苏州有园林200余处,现在保存尚好的有数十处,并因此使苏州素有“人间天堂”的美誉。 
     
      苏州园林的重要特色之一,在于它不仅是历史文化的产物,同时也是中国传统思想文化的载体。表现在园林厅堂的命名、匾额、楹联、书条石、雕刻、装饰,以及花木寓意、叠石寄情等,不仅是点缀园林的精美艺术品,同时储存了大量的历史、文化、思想和科学信息,其物质内容和精神内容都极其深广。其中有反映和传播儒、释、道等各家哲学观念、思想流派的;有宣扬人生哲理,陶冶高尚情操的;还有借助古典诗词文学,对园景进行点缀、生发、渲染,使人于栖息游赏中,化景物为情思,产生意境美,获得精神满足。而园中汇集保存完好的中国历代书法名家手迹,又是珍贵的艺术品,具有极高的文物价值。另外,苏州古典园林作为宅园合一的第宅园林,其建筑规制又反映了中国古代江南民间起居休憩的生活方式和礼仪习俗,是了解和研究古代中国江南民俗的实物资料。
      
      作为苏州古典园林典型例证的拙政园、留园、网师园和环秀山庄,产生于苏州私家园林发展的鼎盛时期,以其意境深远、构筑精致、艺术高雅、文化内涵丰富而成为苏州众多古典园林的典范和代表。苏州以园林见长让人感叹园艺的巧夺天工.以拙政园,留园,网师园,环秀山庄为代表的古典园林于1997年12月被列入“世界文化与自然遗产名录”。 2000年增补沧浪亭、狮子林、耦园、艺圃、退思园为世界文化遗产。其中沧浪亭、狮子林、拙政园和留园分别代表着宋(公元960~1276年)、元(公元1271~1368年)、明(公元1368~1644年)、清(公元1644~1911年)四个朝代的艺术风格,被称为苏州“四大名园”。苏州园林代表了中国私家园林的风格和艺术水平,是不可多得的旅游胜地。

 

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