By Craig Clunas
Gardens are websites that may be at one and an identical time well-known artistic endeavors and invaluable items of actual property. because the first account in English to be entirely in keeping with modern chinese language resources, this leading edge, fantastically illustrated publication grounds the practices of garden-making in Ming Dynasty China (1368-1644) firmly within the social and cultural heritage of the day. Who owned gardens? Who visited them? How have been they represented in phrases, in work, and in visible tradition in most cases, and what meanings did those representations carry at varied degrees of chinese language society? How did the discourse of gardens intersect with different discourses corresponding to these of aesthetics, agronomy, geomancy, and botany? by means of reading the gardens of the town of Suzhou from a couple of diverse angles, Craig Clunas offers a wealthy photo of a fancy cultural phenomenon, one who was once of the most important significance to the self-fashioning of the Ming elite. Drawing on a variety of fresh paintings in cultural conception, the writer presents for the 1st time a ancient and materialist account of chinese language backyard tradition, and replaces huge generalizations and orientalist myth with a resounding photo of the garden's position in social lifestyles.
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Extra info for Fruitful Sites: Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China
80 It would be wrong to argue that this reference exhausts, or even approaches exhausting, everything that is signified by the choice of name Zhuo zheng yuan. It has within it numerous other connotations, most of which centre on the word zhuo - 'unsuccessful', 'clumsy', 'artless'. It was at one level an everyday word of polite language in the Ming period, used in a deprecatory way to mean little more than 'my'. 81 It was a common element in the 'styles' (zi) or 'bynames' (hao) of Ming gentlemen.
His own 'Western Garden' (Xi yuan, but with a different character from the yuan of the imperial'Western Park') was at Xiajia Lake, while his even grander 'Truly Apt Garden' (Zben sbi yuan) was at East Dongtingshan, the scenic peninsula (famed for its oranges) that juts out into Lake Tai to the west of the city. I 2 Here it was adjacent to the property of his younger brother. Both sites were celebrated in verse by his client, Wen Zhengming. I 3 These poems memorialize individual features of the garden, some of which are very close in name to features in the Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician he was later to write about.
According to his own account, this was no signal mark of imperial favour - indeed the emperor would have had no idea they were in his garden. 17 Chen Yi had taught in the palace school, and had come to know a certain Wang Man, an official of the Directorate of the Imperial Forest Park, who conducted the four of them on a tour. ' The imperial park is compared to a heavenly realm, 'something which could not be spied in the world of men'. ) As with the earlier account of Wang Ao's garden, the whole is dealt with in discrete units, listed as ten 'views' (jing).