Sunday, January 20, 2008

Humble Administrator's Garden

After the silk factory, we went to visit the "Humble Administrator's Garden", considered one of the finest gardens in China. I am inclined to agree. Even in the cold and Kevin's disclaimer that this was not the proper season to see the garden, it was extraordinarily beautiful.
There was a much different feeling to this garden than the YuYuan Garden we saw in Shanghai. That garden was owned by an aristocratic family who used it as a tool to display their power and prestige. This garden was built by a retired administrator who had no need to impress anyone and designed it as a place of meditation and contemplation.

And since the owner was more concerned with spiritual matters, the garden was heavily designed with Buddhist beliefs in mind. For example, in Buddhist philosophy there are three mountains--in the east is hell, the west heaven and in the middle is earth (where man lives); and dividing heaven and hell from earth is a great river. To represent this, our humble retired administrator had the garden built with three pavilioned hills with a lake separating the two of them from the third.

And instead of a preponderance of dragons, there were bats. This is because the word for bat is bian fu and since fu is the Chinese word for luck, bats are lucky. Five bats are especially lucky because there are five elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.

Lastly, since the garden was to be a place of relaxation and artistic appreciation, all the buildings and architectural details were designed to compliment and frame pictures of nature--so that every view was like a painting.This, perhaps, is one picture that the administrator would not have thought of as particularly scenic, but I think it quite adds to the beauty.

1 comment:

JennyW said...

I love the last picture - framing such beauty! :o)