The classical Chinese garden boasts an aesthetic theory that has developed into a real form of art over a period of time that spans almost four millennia and which has led to a style so particular that it is practically unique.
The peculiar geographical situation was the main reason. In the Chinese territory, the presence of temperate, tropical and boreal environments and the continuous interchange between plant species has allowed the development of an enormous quantity, we are talking about tens of thousands, of rare or unique plants. It is therefore natural that since the dawn of civilization, an agricultural tradition has been practiced in China aimed at selecting edible or ornamental plants without a break between necessity and art. The research into the hybridization of species and varieties that began more than 3000 years ago in China has given us numerous plants that are widespread today also in Europe such as magnolias, forsythia, azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, jasmines, primroses, viburnums, lilacs and many others .
The cornerstone of all the art of the Chinese garden is precisely the creation of an ideal artificial landscape, a miniature of the natural one, where man and nature coexist and interact in perfect harmony. As in a narrative that, chapter after chapter, tells a story, the classical Chinese garden is a succession of individual glimpses and scenes. Some recurring features only the walls painted in white as a pictorial canvas to enhance the elements inside, rocks, trees and plants, a pond or a central lake (water has a strong symbolic value in Chinese garden culture, emblem of lightness and communication, complete with the mountain, emblem of dreams and immensity) surrounded by architectural structures of various sizes and functions (arranged in functional points for the enjoyment of particular aspects such as the reflection of the sun on the water, the rustling of the leaves in a windy day, or the dripping of rain on the leaves), connecting tunnels or streams as subdivision elements, the technique of jièjǐng or “borrowed scenery” in practice glimpses outside the garden such as mountain peaks, pagodas in the distance skillfully set by openings or windows.
Some of the most significant architectural structures and man-made elements are:
Finally, plants and flowers, whose symbolic value in Chinese gardens, individually and in combination with each other, would deserve a dedicated space as the topic is so vast and complex. A special place deserves the Peony which in China has a prestige comparable to the rose in the West . It is a symbol of wealth achieved with honesty, nobility of soul, beauty and female fertility depending on the color and variety. Herald of spring and rebirth, he was under the protection of the emperor who encouraged his gardeners in the search for ever new varieties with substantial cash donations and prizes. Just to give some further hints, the orchid symbolizes perfection , prosperity the inner growth, the azalea the femininity and elegance , the narcissus the luck in work and in business, lily unity and happiness, hydrangea gratitude and enlightenment, red chrysanthemum Yang energy and longevity , peach blossom abundance and luck in love.
The Yuyuan garden (translated into “garden of happiness and well-being”), a real oasis of peace in the city of Shanghai, was built on an area of 2 hectares as a private garden by the Pa family in the classical style of the Ming dynasty and perfectly represents the paradigm of traditional Chinese garden . Rocks, ponds, bamboo forests, flowering trees and bonsai unfold in many distinct scenes of ideal landscapes. Each scene is separated from the others by artificial elements such as zigzag bridges and galleries and is characterized by a single prominent element such as a pavilion or courtyard that house works of art of various kinds (furniture, sculptures, paintings, calligraphy). / p>
The Humble Administrator’s Garden , the most famous of the Classical Gardens of Suzhou, a UNESCO site and a World Heritage Site, is considered the most beautiful garden in all of southern China. It was built over 16 years by Wang Xiancheng, an official of the Ming dynasty who retired to private life and was immediately a source of inspiration for many artists with its 48 buildings and 21 centuries-old trees. The complex is developed in three areas arranged around a lake declining the traditional 4 elements (stone, plant, architecture and water) in numerous scenes, mythological, symbolic and literary quotes. The central section recreates in miniature the insular landscape of the Bohai Sea and the mythical Mount Penglai in many views gathered around the three islands of the pond. The eastern section is characterized by a beautiful pavilion in the center of a large lawn. The western section is characterized by scenes that make water the protagonist and the beautiful Bonsai Garden with more than 700 penjing / penzai in Suzhou style.
The Lingering Garden in Suzhou is famous for being the most representative example of the artistic style of the gardens of Jiangnan (the area south of the Yangtze River), for its splendid architectural features and for the enormous amount of rocks. Characteristic are the long corridors decorated with calligraphy with openings on the landscape, courtyards, rooms full of works of art, bonsai and ponds of water lilies.
Outside of China, one of the finest examples of a classical Chinese garden has been createdBack to Index