In the Chinese Garden: A Photographic Tour of the Complete Chinese Garden, with Text Explaining Its Symbolism

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In the Chinese Garden: A Photographic Tour of the Complete Chinese Garden, with Text Explaining Its Symbolism

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In the Chinese Garden A PHOTOGRAPHIC TOUR OF THE COMPLETE CHINESE GARDEN, WITH TEXT EXPLAINING ITS SYMBOLISM, AS SEEN IN THE LIU YUAN (The Liu Garden) AN D THE SHIH TZU LIN (The Forest of Lions ), two famous Chinese Gardens in the Ci ty of Soochow, Kiangsu Province, Ch ina




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THE AUTHOR ' S CHINESE CARD " Beloved Orchid Instructor, Scenic Sea Women's Teachers College 1" Heaven-Bestowed-Village Soochow, Kiangsu Province, Chin a." The author's Chinese name, like most Chinese names, has symbolic meaning. The orchid is especially loved by the Chinese for its long, thin, graceful leaves and delicate petals, the painting of which is, next to the bamboo, the test of an artist's skill ; as the author is tall and slender, " the orchid" was considered an appropriate name. 1b







Mr. Y. C. Yang, President, Soochow University at •.



present located in Shanghai, China. Dr. Walter B. ance, and his wife Lhe late Florence Keiser Nance, formerly President, Soochow Un iversity at present located in Shanghai, China . OUT OF THE WEST Mrs. L. Burton Schneider, formerly Director, Feder-

The author wishes to thank all persons who have assisted in the preparation of this work. Those mentioned here were especia~ly helpful, and possess creative spirit and practical imagination which have made the stay in China, and the realization of this volume, happy adventures.

ated Garden Clubs of New York State, Troy, N. Y. Miss Grace A. Moore, Special Assistant in Adult Education, Albany Public Library, Albany, N.Y. Mr. James A. Glenn, Commercial Photograph y, Albany, N.Y. Miss Helen E. Bullard, Landscape Architect, Albany, N.Y. Mr. George C. Bebb, Landscape Architect, Albany,

OUT OF THE EAST Mr. Chih Meng, Director, China Institute in America, New York, N. Y. Mr. Chester T. Su, deceased, Soochow, China; lately of the Secretariat of the Academia Sinica, Chungking and Kunming, China. Mrs. Bert Attaway Price, formerly of Shanghai, China.

N.Y. Dr. Gertrude E. Douglas} Faculty, New York State Dr. Arthur K. Beik College for Teachers, Dr. Carleton E. Power Albany, N. Y. Dr. Ruth Andrus, Director, New York State Bureau of Child Development and Parent Education, Albany, N. Y.

Miss Mabel K. Howell, Nashville, Tennessee; formerly Executive for China, Board of Foreign Missions, Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Miss Louise Robinson, Shanghai, China; formerly Principal, Laura Haygood Normal School, Soochow, China.

Mr. Frank A. McNamee}F. A. McNamee and Son, Mr. Paul McNamee Albany, N. Y. Mrs. Dorothy Graham Bennett, New York, N. Y.; Mrs. Matilda C. Thurston, formerly of Nanking, China; Mr. Henry Inn, Honolulu, Hawaii; and those publishers in the Bibliography who willingly



granted permission to use quoted material men· tioned in the References and Note, . Dr. George F. Reed, Physician and Surgeon, Troy, N.Y. 1r. Carleton G. Power, recently The John Day Company, New York, . Y.


Mr. Richard J. Walsh, President, The J ohn Day Company, New York, N.Y.

The purpose of this volume is, first, to give an idea of the complete Chinese garden with photographs taken in order of progress through the garden. Scat· tered photographs have been presented in recent years but, as far as the author has been able to discover in printed works to date, this is the first work planned and photographed to present the entire Chinese gar· den as one walks through it. The City of Soochow, in Kiangsu Province, is one of the cities of China famous for its gardens; and in that city, no two gardens are closer to the hearts of the Chinese than the Liu Yuan 2 (the Liu Garden), and the Shih Tzu Lin 3 (the Forest of Lions) , the gardens chosen for this intimate tour. These photographs, taken in the spring of 1926, are in black and white rather than in color, as this me· dium gives the more accurate picture of the gardens which are not studies in vivid and exotic color, but tone poems in the quiet hues of gray in rocks and garden walls, of green in trees and shrubs, and of brown

in both weathered and carved wood, all intermingled



with delicate traceries m white pla s~er, hammered iron, and mother-of-pearl. An equally important reason for bringing such a series as this into existence is that it makes a needed contribution to the relatively scarce material on the subject of Chinese gardens, as such. Many descriptions of Chinese gardens are found in history, story, and poetry, but not until as recently as 1938, with the publication of Chinese Gardens by Dorothy Graham ·I were there more than two definitive treatises on the subj ect, both written by the eminent English architect, Sir William Chambers, and published in England in 1757 and 1772 respectively." Since 1929 less than a dozen magazine articles have been published on the subject in the United States.GIn the last decade, several presentations of scattered photographs have been made available in either book form, 7 or as illustrated lectures,8" but only one of these Sb depicts, as this series does, the complete Chinese garden in a connected sequence of photographs.

Along with the desire to give a more adequate idea of the physical features of the complete Chinese garden, and to add to the literature on the subject, is that of presenting the Chinese garden as one of the more obvious and fascinating means by which the West may better understand the Chinese way of life. In the Chinese gardens presented in this volume may still be found the devices and techniques which the Chinese have used for centuries in their r evelation of the inner 12

soul of the man created by the philosophy of life indigenous to China and her people. To see the Chinese garden in its truly Chinese perspective, to understand it as it really is, these devices and techniques become merely the ornamented keys necessary to unlock the inner sanctuary of the soul of this man of China. When these ancient, symbolic, and decorative motifs are used as decorative ends in themselves and as a means of fli ght from stifling f ormality, then we see the influence of the Chinese garden and its techniques and motifs as they have affected the life of the West in the past.n Sir William Chambers alone possessed a true conception of the Chinese garden, as he alone r ealized that the techniques used by its builder were those of "a philosopher," "a painter," and "a botanist," all in the one man 10 ; and through him the Chinese garden made its finest contribution to the gardens of the West in the Kew Gardens built by him in the eighteenth century. Not until 1938, with Chinese Gardens by Dor othy Graham,ll is the true idea of the Chinese garden, as such, presented again. In 1940 appeared Chinese Houses and Gardens by Henry Inn and S. C. Lee/! an outstanding volume of scattered photographs. Now again, this time with a series of pho-

tographs of the complete Chinese garden, the underlying Chinese reasons for the uses made of these garden devices and techniques are explained in plain, simple words, in a renewed effort to present the Chinese garden as one of the expressions of a philosophy 13

of life unique among the philosophi es of the world,

Recently a group of citizens has assisted the city

and from which it cannot be separated. When we see what these devices and techniques are, understand

government in preserving the gardens of Soochow, once private gardens but now property of the city. To be a member, a man must be a scholar. The group meets in the room pictured below. It is situated in

why the Chinese use them as they do, and what their symbolic means are, then some idea of the underlying Chinese philosophy of life begins to appear, and we begin to see the Chinese garden in its true perspecti ve. The fourth reason for offering this series lies in the value which a permanent record may have to the future, as well as to the present, knowledge of the gardens of China. At this writing,* information r eceived from Chinese sources r eveals that whether or not the gardens of Soochow have suffered from the seven hundred bombs which fell on that city in 1937, it is

a temple at the foot of the famous old "Leaning Pagoda" a few miles outside the city, and is called " Little Soochow." One of the black plaques at the back of the room was given by a Chinese organization corresponding to the Rotary Club in the West. Who knows but that, already, fate has decreed that the East and the West co-operate in the continued effort to preserve the ga rdens of Soochow. Florence Lee Powell

safe to say that the furniture and the decorations have been removed by the Chinese for safe keeping fr om both looting and destruction. Should the two gardens in this series survive the present upheaval, it is practically certain, therefore, that they will never appear exactly as they are in these photographs. It is not improbable that Chinese as well as individuals in the West will welcome a permanent record of the Liu Yuan and the Shih Tzu Lin in Soochow, the two gardens considered by the Chinese outstanding and famous examples of the private Chinese garden of the Ming period. '' R ecent reports from China say that to the fall oj 1941 the main features oj these gardens had survived and confirm the removal oj the /nrnish.iugs .







The Chinese garden is practically never built as a " public" garden in the Western meaning of the word. It is considered a part of ever yday life, and is begun and planned, where it can be afforded, along with the livin g quarters for the pleasure of its owner, his im· mediate famil y, his favorite concubine, the families of his sons, his other relatives, and hi s fri ends. Gen· erally, the garden is not completed when the living quarters are; the owner continues the building of the garden as his own individual expression of the cen· turies-old Chinese culture, adding a new court, another garden room, or a mountain of naturally weathered rocks, as his inspiration moves him. A Chinese garden may be found, therefore, in any

Th e S oochow garden Is · reached through narrow streets lined with high walls.


of the residential sections of a Chinese city, on the spot suited to the fancy of its scholar-owner. A favorite place for the garden is near the inside of the city's encircling wall, as is the Shih Tzu Lin. Other gardens are built beyond the boundary of the city proper outside the city wall, as is the Liu Yuan, lo2



eated about a mile away fro m one of Soochow's largest and most crowded shopping d istricts. But whether the garden be with in the city or in the suburbs, to r each it requires a journey on foot, by donkey, chair, or ricksha, thro ugh narrow streets only eight or ten feet wide, lined on either side by continuous high walls of houses and of garden walls. It all seems very cold and uninviting to individuals from the West who plan a pleasing approach to their gardens. The Chinese hide their g::m lens behind high walls constructed around the esta te. Even the tra ined obser ver, following the clues furnished by overhanging treetops, ela borately executed windows set high in garden walls, or by fast-flitting rumor, has to search to local•:! the garden. The hurrying traveler never suspects its existence, and never sees it; he has neither the patience nor the appreciation of the Chinese point of view to penetra te three for midable walls, the thirtyfoot wall encircling the entire city, the high wall surrounding the estate, and that most formidable wall of all, the wall of silent tolerance with which the Chinese endure the crudeness of some not-too-thoughtful travelers out of the West. In recent years a few new private gardens have

builder of gardens like the Liu Yuan and the Shih Tzu Lin, supported by the social and the financial c:ystem of the Empire, has been on the wane. A few of these old scholars still exist, living serenely with their gardens; but generally he has died, and his family has soon found itself without means to carry on. His garden has been taken over by the city government, supported by the new scholar and the new businef;sman of the Republic. The garden is now open to the public, free, or with a thin dime as the fee to admit anyone to this priceless heritage for a few hours, or for the day. The attendant at the entrance who is usually the keeper, a tea boy passing by, and an occasional visitor, are the only persons one sees in the garden. There are no guards. Nothing seems to be molested. One is there, brea thing in the atmosphere of the China that was, in complete freedom, separated and protected by the high garden wall from the crowded, noisy world outside. Since 1937 and the destruction incident to military occupation, many a Chi nese garden survives only in the memor y of those who have seen it, or on the photographic print of a few who, being fortunate to ob-

been built in scattered sections of China. Some may he entered by the stranger, hut in many instances influence and permission are necessary. Since the

ta in such accurate impressions of its beauty, now press its image onto the pages of history, to the glory

breakdown of the Empire and the establishment of

under whose supreme tutelage and inspiration, assisted by Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, the Chinese garden was given to the world.

the Republic in 1911, the old-style scholar, the 20

of Shang Ti, the ancient Chinese "God of Heaven "




The Liu Yuan, or " L iu Garden," was built in the sixteenth century. When M.r. Liu died, the family quarreled over it for years, then sold it to Mr . Shang Taotoi, Minister of Communications in the I mperial Government, who continued to call it the Liu Y uan and spent a fortune on it. M.r. Shang, like all officials of the Em pire, was a scholar, and retired in Saochow, which was a favorite place fo r scholarstatesmen to retire and build gardens.

·.P .





The Liu Garden, considered by the Chinese to be a model garden, is a series of courtyards and garden rooms, dependent on each oth er and inseparable. Garden rooms are generally open to the court the year round by means of full·length folding doors on at least two sides. The plan, drawn from memory by the author and re·drawn by a landscape architect, is sufficiently accurate to give a true idea of this model garden. 24

Typical entrance to home and garden, with sentry box at the right. There is no hint of the beauty insid~ only a plain, dark, wooden door greets the world outside. Through such a door we enter the Liu Yuan.


From the door we enter a small courtyard and proceed through a narrow passageway having chalk-white walls. We feel strangely blank, going on as th e passageway gradually darkens. Suddenly, we find ourselves right up against the wall of a dark, covered corridor containing six square windows, each having

..On the left is a window with center in the shape of a

an open-work design. Above are two of the windows.

center surrounded by four smaller octagons. The

Each has a geometrical design commonly used, the right one an octagon, the left a hexagon. The windows

Chinese covered corridor, one of the important types

are set rather high in the wall, purposely, to keep us in suspense, and to lure us on.



fa n ; at the right i a window with an octagon-shaped

of passageways by means of which we go through the garden, is illumined only by the light from these artistic openings in the wall.


The window on the right has a spider-web design. The window on the left shows a square enclosing four octagons, placed to represent the four petals of a flower. Such windows not only lure us on and furnish light to the covered corridor, but are decorative medallions which stand out in bold relief against the light of the great outdoors.


The corner as a whole : the windows in the covered corridor as they appear from the outside, the old camphor tree casting shadows on the white walls, the two-story teahouse, a small stone bridge, a rocky pathway, and a stone lantern shrine to the gods of evil, a warning of danger.


Lea." This is a pleasure pavilion which is always 13 placed facing " the lake or smaller body of water." Notice the var ying tones of gray and brown in the tile roof, in the weathered doors and railing, the trunk of the trees, and in the rocks, all balanced against the white wall. The effect is quiet beauty that holds us in silence. Bold color is important in the textile arts, but it is out of place in landscapes, and " the Chinese garden is a land sea pe picture." 14 In the palace gardens in P eking lu there is mor e color, as yellow and blue tile roofs were used to denote royalty. The quiet conLrast shown here is the technique generally used in private Chinese gardens.

"The Chinese enjoy their gardens sitting down and have pavilions conveniently placed" where there is a lovely view "or where one may want to stop and drink



The other side of the pool. The Chinese garden symA p erfect reflection, framed by the leaning a nd supported old camphor tree with its soft gr een foliage, offers joyous relief from the severity of winter.


bolizes life created by the union of two elemen ts : the Y ang r epresented in Heaven, rock s and mountains, light, man, a nd the good; and the Yin seen in earth, water, da rkness, woman, a nd trouble.JG



A small hexagonal pavilion or ting, perched high in the mountains, beckons us to sit and enjoy the beauty there. The pathway has a fa int p ebbled design characteristic of lhe gardens of sever al centuries ago.


Another corridor, with decorati ve window, through which we pass to reach other parts of the garden. The rocks fla nking the window, a nd the circula r pebbled courtyard, add balance to the gray-tiled roofs over them.



Monolith, balanced on a foundation of smooth r ocks, in an extremely small court weighted down with concentrated beauty. The walls of the courtyard containing the windows are also the walls of covered Small courtyard. The squar e "·indow is matched with the delicate Llade of " heavenly bamboo"; the round window is in harmony with the curves of a natural rock resembling a chubby bear sitting upright, his front paws crossed on his chest.


corridors. The left window is in the snowflake pattern, the second is a spider web, and the right window uses cloud-and-thunder motif. This scene is an example of the beauty the Chinese achieve without flowers, a technique whi ch keeps the courtyard as beautiful in winter as in summer. 37

characters, or conversing with friends. The partitions and windows are in the cracked-ice pattern which r epresents winter ice cracking up as spring approaches. The foremost Ch inese actor, Mei Lanfa ung, copied the design in these partitions in a back curtain for his stage in P eking. The floor is made of cement slabs manufactured for the purpose. The lamps are old-fashioned ones in keeping with the whole setting. The furniture is hand-carved redwood.


This garden room , open to a court at left, is an interior used for .sipping tea whil e making verse, quoting poetry, playmg musical instruments, writing Chinese 38



Adjoining room in similar style. At the right is another potted plant on a table. The moon door in the rear focuses our a ttention on three small ta bles used

The courtyard. Rocks, tall and thickly set, display

only for decoration, a nd on the wi nd ow through which we see just enough of the courtyard to tempt us in that direction.

a n elevation of about six feet- to the mountain


kind animal faces in stone, framed by gray tiles at the top of the wall. A narrow path takes us suddenly to heights.




This courtyard has a single stone balanced upright. The roof is dar k gray, unglazed tile, laid in ridgeand-furrow fa shion and finished at the edge with a small tile shaped like a half-moon. Underneath the eaves is a running fretwork in the cloud·a nd-thunder pattern, a very old design evolved by the Chinese from the characters for " th under-rolling-through-the10 clouds"; it symbolizes the fertil ization of all living things. The covered walk, called "a promenade," is an essential part of a garden ; promenades, covered corridors, and courts make it possible to r each any part of the garden without disturbing those who may occupy garden rooms. 42

Just behind the tall r ock is a small room in which to rest. The window is the favorite octagon shape with panes in cracked-ice design. Above, the characters say, " Blue sky thr ough a hole," meaning, "After you have gone a long ·way, sit her e an·d look at the blue sky:" The back of each chair is inlaid with two small ' pieces of marble, one in the shape of a peach which symbolizes longevity, the other in octagon shape to match the window above. At each side, the front doors show hand-carved paneling. 43


On the opposite side of the court is a garden room with a t least two walls of transparent window glass. The divan or k' ang, inlaid with mother·of-pearl, is the customary Chinese sofa with one seat for the host a nd another for the guest. Here one reclines in ease, smokes, or sips tea from cups placed on the small table·like partition in the center of the sofa . The four panels on the back wall indicate the four seasons of the year. There are modern electric lights. On the floor immediately in front of the divan is a broad, low footstool used in olden times. The large, round table is marble-topped. 44·

A resthouse called, " The Wishing Well." The roof, the cloud-and-thunder fretwork hanging from the eaves like lace, the window in the center, a nd the design in the railing, all outlined against the grayishwhite wall is peculiarly Chinese garden technique. 45


Partition with characters carved in the wood and then painted in. Two potted plants, a choice natural rock, and a vase hold sway with the Chinese god in the center. The Chinese find a fascination in a piece of natural rock such as this on the left, and often prize it a bove articles having real money value merely because it looks, in miniature, like a r ugged mountain peak or a lone hill standing out on a plain. 18 The hand carving in the tables shows dragons rising from the water through clouds to bring rain.


A redwood chair is placed in the foreground to show the beauty of the carved dragon's head and the high polish in the wood. The dragon in the chair fittingly accompanies the rain dragons car ved into the redwood tables. 47


Private library. Chinese books are printed on soft rice paper and have to be stacked. In this bookcase the outline of the partitions is irregula r to avoid monotony. In the foreground may be seen the thickness of the wood in the chairs.

Couch arrangement at each end of the library. At the



left is a close-up of two bookcase sections. Two lovely windows in octagon motif, with a picture of framed marble bet,veen, enhance the wall at the back of the couch.


I (.

Detail of a 'vindow. The small panes are made from the thin pearl lining "of a species o£ oyster, the placuna, cut into small squares, and used in the place of window glass." Fifty years ago commerce grad ually brought this material into greater use all over China , though the fear of thieves limited its use.19 The octagon motif was later often used in furniture decOl·ation, particularly by Thoma s Chippendale.


Opposite side of the partition. The table is realistically carved in the leaves and stalk of bamboo, . . "0 symbolic of the courage which accompames seremty.· The landscape is a yellow-white outlin e on black. The

in. cription rea ds, "Ancient forest a nd old waterfall."



The painting is very clear a t this angle; the Chinese consider it a very good piece of landscape. The chairs are the finest South China affords. They are made of

nanmu, a ver y heavy wood stained in dark ebony with brown lights, which is practically always inlaid with marble especially cut to show reddish or gray streaks 21 representing clouds, mountains, and water in a 22 landscape.


The theater. At the top (front ) of the stage are four characters, often used , to represent the chief ambitions of life. From right to left they are : Fu, family happiness; Lu, success in official honors; Chou, a ripe old age; and Shih, happiness for all and many sons.


Back of the theater. The choice seats are front row, balcony. Enterta inment is often continuous for three days; a single performa nce la sts about s ix hours.

These medallions in a garden room wall are really

Theatrical entertainment of shorter dura tion is not

windows shaped like octagons, each with a wide bor-

considered an appropria te offering by the host of means.

der of delicate pearl shell in cracked-ice pattern



matched with lacy leaves of bamboo in the courtyard.


The cracked-ice pattern in the border of the rectangu-

The court, seen from the study, exhibits an almost

lar window seems to fram e the courtyard wall of

perfect combination of bala nce and exquisite detail.

shrubbery and vines in the distance, and the small

The pa tterned walk, soft and clear, has the appear-

pavilion partially seen at the right which is a cozy place to stop for a few moments.

ance of a handsom e carpet laid before the screen on



th e floor of a room dear to the heart of its owner.

r 1

of broken pieces of porcelain with the broken edges placed up, to show the blue underglaze ; it is a device which gives a faint bluish tinge to the whole pa ttern. The characters on the two panels have deep meaning; an instructor in the Chinese language will spend an hour expounding on the meaning of only four cha racters. Wh en the meaning is p ut in sentences it is really ruined. Taking the right panel first, the mea ning is, literally, Right: "Beautiful flowers which are delached f rom the world Le.ft: Give inspira tion to the poetic express ion of this heavenly spri ng."

Screen, with marble insets, in front of a moon door. The r oof is very clear, and just below it is the cloudand-thunder fretwork. The design in the walk is made





Behind the scr een on a pla in whiLe wall is a plaster dragon in deep relief. In China the dragon is not only a symbol of beneficence and the source of rain, but was the national emblem of the E mpire. The Emperor was a Dragon King upon a Dragon Throne. 2 ~


Looking ahead from the dragon. At left is a veranda showing Lhe library windows already seen from the inside. At r ight is a unique bamboo fence enclosing growing bamboo. At the back is a schola r's study, placed in the quiet of the garden f or medita tion and writing.


Pebbled circular pa th surround ed by rocks. Although it i in ha rmony with the court, it possesses a different

Terrace flower bed, a nd pavil ion for having tea and a chat. This pa vilion is always open on one side; the

atmosphere, suggests that though the court just seen is complete in itself, still more beauty lies ahead.

upstairs is one large open room now vacan t and bare, but form erl y used as a private room for entertainment, or for sleeping quarters.



The roof of a garden room as it appears on lhe opposite side of the terrace flower bed from the pavilion. The windows in th e wall show lhe old way o£ openi ng Chinese glass windows.


The other side of the terrace flower bed or t' ai, a raised bed surrounded by walls,24 an ancient Chinese garden device.25 The walk, considered very beautiful by the Chinese, is not broken cement but slabs of stone fitted together to represent cracked ice in late winter.




This court must have been especially prized by the owner. The rocks are heavy and deeply weathered and are charmingly placed against the white wall and the dark gray tile roof. P eonies are considered the flower of wealth and opulence. When properly planted they are always in a series of t' ai or terrace beds or in a single t' ai or terrace bed like this one.20 This bed is massive and substantial, and is decorated with two Shell window and "heavenly bamboo" plant with red berries. The "heavenly bamboo" is an evergreen used, in China, to represent "something lovely," as mistletoe is used in the West.

dragons chasing a pearl. One interpretation describes the object as the pearl and the dragons as the Emperor constantly in search for the unattainable and never quite reaching it. 27




The garden has by now begun to show us how the Chinese use flowers in their gardens. With all the love the Chinese have for them, "flowers are never the outstanding feature- they are not even essential." The Chinese love floweq for their fragrance and for their individual color, but "there is no striving after masses of color, no flower borders against backgrounds of trees and shrubs." They do not plant flowers among the rocks or even in the earth; there is no place for them in a landscape. The gardener grows them in pots in the back of the estate. They are brought in, in pots, in full bloom, and placed in the courtyard, along the walks, and on the tables, and left until they fad e. The Chinese love flowers particularly for their symbolism. There is a flower for each month in the year and for each of the four seasons. The lotus is "an emblem of purity and truth"; "the peony of rank and wealth" ; 28 the winter plum, the mei-hua, symbolic of endurance and hope, has, under the Republic, superseded the dragon as the national emblem of China. 20 The chrysanthemum is the choicest of all the flowers, and the only one allowed to die in the courtyard. It is the flower of "retirement and culture." Only three or five blossoms are cultivated to one plant, hut the blossoms must he perfect and the leaves must he strong and green and must cover the whole stalk down to the 30 ground. When they wither they are still admired and are allowed to remain in the courtyard because of their beauty and their habit of dying gracefully.

In the right wall is a doorway, flanked with another veteran monolith, through which we see a courtyard with wisteria growing in profusion . A vista seen through such an opening is a device, often used, to lend distance.



The wall, with a dragon on top to represent up-hill and down-dale, 31 can be afforded only by the wealthy. The walk, spotted with rays of the spring sun, makes it easy to see and accompany the dragon in its flight over the hills. 70

Back to a garden r oom overlooking the first pool. Here is detail of the usual Chinese interior without ceiling. The marble pictures on the rear wall are thought by the Chinese to be very good, and are fairly expensive. 7l

By pushing the full-length folding doors to the sides, the garden room, the courtyard, and the lotus pool just behind us are united into one la rge, harmonious, peaceful scene of r are and diversified beauty. 72

Small court, featuring a " heavenly bamboo" plant flanked by a na tural rock and a "stone bamboo shoot," seen as we leave the garden. The Liu Yuan, a model Chinese garden, is a " Ga rden of Remembrance"-a place of r etreat, a garden to delight the memory. 73

The Shih Tzu Lin, or " For est of Lions," i"s one of China's most famous private gardens. I t was originally built in the fourteenth century, two hundred years before the L iu Yuan, and has been magnificently restored in re~ent years. Its rocks are not only " the most famous natural rocks in China," 32 but the garden is the only one of the famous rock gardens of history to survive to the present

The Shih Tzu Lin, in contrast with the Liu Yuan, which is a series of courtyards, is one large rectangle around which an endless number of charming perspectives has been created. The plan, drawn from

Just inside the entrance. The trees, tall and bare, give a clue to the keynote of the garden. Only the windows and the high white wall are visible from the outside as we approach the garden through a very narrow

memor y by th~ author and redrawn by a landscape architect, is sufficiently accurate to give a true idea of this garden.





The first of four windows in the inner wall nearest the entrance. Each window is set about five feet from the ground. The tree is the pine, an evergreen signifying tenacity and long life. The animal on the left is the elephant, revered in Buddhism and used to guard royal tombs. The animal at the right is the chi-lin, or unicorn, a fictitious animal which ranks with the dragon in importance ; it is a symbol of good omen but rarely appears.


The figure on the right is the Chinese lion, also a fictitious animal, commonly used in pairs at the entrances to temples, shops, homes, ceremonial halls, and palaces, to give protection from evil spirits; they "symbolize guardianship and wisdom." 3~ The sheep on the left, symbolizing filial piety, is one of the animals dressed and placed before the altar to Confucius at the sacrifices to the sage in Confucian temples twice a year. 79


The deer, the other disciple of the God of Long Life, when associated with the pi ne also r epresenting long life, symbolizes success in official honors. " Sometimes The crane has special powers of longevity as it is one of the disciples of the God of Long Life. "Longevity is the boon most coveted by the Chinese." Aged "Chinese scholars take note of four varieties of cranes, the black, the white, the blue," and especially of the yellow "between whose outspread wings sages and saints mount to the High Heavens." 3"


the deer is found pattern ed over with flowers," a device which " gives him the festive aspect so desirable in a happy-omened an imal." The deer is a favorite subject with silversmiths, especially in P eking, "where a pair of these pretty creatures, hold ing in their mouths bits of the fungus of immortality, is considered an appropriate gift to one who aspires to official position ." sc 81

The bridge, made of mne slabs of stone,

to the

grees of male relationship . . . and the word mne itself is used as a synonym of perfection." 37

The pool, with massed rocks and pavilion beyond . The lotus, appearing on the water's surface, is the flower of Buddhism and symbolizes purity and truth ; as its buds rise from the mud to face the sun, so man rises from slime to the life approved by Heaven.




Chinese ideal, as the number nine represents the Yang or male principle-there. are "nine recognized de-

Trees and pavilions near the edge are reflected in the lotus pool, seen through the drooping branches of the tree in the foreground. 84.

Ca mel-Lack bridge to the artificial island. Its reflection in the water completes a silvery circle on the surface of the lotus pool. At the left is a picturesque rock resembling a cackling hen.


The artist Ni Tsa n, a recluse, lived in this garden and spent his whole life working on these rocks.:1s Chin ese gardens are not built in a day- Ni Tsan sp.e nt a lifetime-·- but often take several generations. The rocks are all natural rocks of limestone secured from the Tai-hu, or " Big Lake," near Soochow. There is only one path which leads across the island ; it is not plainly seen and search must be made for it. There are so many cross-paths and caverns within that, not knowing which really goes across the island, the whole afternoon might be spent before the other side is reached.


Faces, not made by human hands, in the central section of the rocks on the island. These were carved by Mother Nature in soft gray limestone, and made the piece de resistance on the rocky summit of the island

by the artist Ni Tsan. 87

Covered bridge to the mainland. Cut in its base are the octagon, relating to ancient philosophy, the plum denoting forbearance and . hope and the national flower of the Chinese Republic, the peach symbolizing long life, and the fan, a symbol in the Taoist faith.

Rocks and pavilion as they appear from the covered bridge. There are many faces in the rocks. The Chinese character for long life is the motif for the conventionalized pattern in the iron railing of the bridge.



as is di splayed here is never, with all the admirati on it r eceive , considered by the Chinese the central principle of a garden ; the main purpose is to create an abstraction which will help the soul of man escape to moods of contemplation in the mountains, or Heaven. 3n Man, in China, is a part of the universe as he i


the West, but he does not domina te the scheme of things. Rather, the mountains, or Heavens, are grea ter than he; he goes to the mountains to meditate and to r enew his feeling of oneness wi th nature. Though greater than he, the moun tai ns are hi friends, and he goes to them in the spirit of under ta nding and of joy in their companionship. 40 Too often, however, he cannot go to the mountain s, they are too far away, so he brings the mountains to him in the form of a garden, and goes there to med ita te. If he cannot afford a garden, and many Chinese cannot afford even a miniature garden of a few yards, he ha ngs a favorite 1a ndsca pe on the wall, selects a choice natural rock for his de k, chooses a finely car ved panel of ja de, ivory, or soapstone for his table, or places a potted plant suited to the season near his work bench. He holds the love of nature in his heart. In China all The beauty of the rocks in this garden, and the skill in

classes from scholar to laborer understand, and are

placing them, is known and admired throughout

united by, this philo ophy of life.

China. The Emperor Ch'ien Lung visited the garden a nd was so charmed that he used some of its technique in Lhc palace gardens in P eking. However, skill such



The p avilion. The harmony a nd the rhythm of the curved r oo£ are ymboli c of the Chinese de ire to be a part of the all enveloping rh ythm of the univer e.H Each upturned corn ice form imm orta lity . ·'~


the acred scepter of

The leaning tree i con idered by the Chine e unique in form. The huma n profile in the tall r ock faces the upturned cornice shaped like the acred fungu , as if bowed in r everence to this popular symbol of immortality.


The upright rock at the extreme l eft, cutting across the The decorative gable in the background i contrasted with the tall, austere "stone bamboo shoot" near it. In the foreground is a fa t, cheerful " stone bamboo shoot" stretching itself toward the upturned corn ices.

top of the wall, has the head, comb, tail, and general appearance of a cock who has chosen to roost in the petrified forest until the dawn of another day overtakes him.



bamboo shoot." At the right is a seered, much older "stone bamboo shoot." These "stone bamboo shoots," chiseled from petrified trees, are expensive according to their length and their age. The Chinese are especially fond of them for gardens. Here they are expressive features of the petrified forest envisioned by its artist-designer Ni Tsan, in "towering grotesque rocks" which seem "to have fallen from some burntout planet." 43 The Chinese consider Ni Tsan's portrayal of "bare trees, incomparable." 44 The rocks he chose and placed "created a garden of eerie remoteness, a place of incredible perspectives," "pictures in imperishable rocks" suggesting " infinitv." 45

Flower pots give evidence that the gardener is at work in the rear of the garden. At the left is a gracefully gnarled petrified tree standing beside a tall "stone 96


A door in a rear wall, cut in the soft curves of the winter plum, is framed by the pierced decoration on the top of the wall, by the magnolia tree and the soft gray rocks at the sides, and the pebbled pattern in the courtyard floor.


The inscription over the plum-shaped door reads, "Peace, quietness, and beauty," meaning, " Blissful retreat in the shade." From this intriguing door a winding stone walk leads to the scholar's study, placed if!. a quiet, secluded court of the garden grounds. 99

grouped together. At the top a bat, representing happiness, has been appliqued onto the latticework. The entire floor of the courtyard is in the octagon pattern. The octagon is "a symbol of the ancient world as conceived by the earliest Chinese speculative philosophers." 46 They divided the world into four quadrants, north (winter), east (spring), south (summer), and west (autumn) , watched over by guardian animals which are, respectively, the tortoise, the azure dragon, the phoenix or ho bii-d, and the white tiger. The four animals are called "The Four Supernatural Creatures," and even today exert considerable influence over Chinese national li~e, particularly in the fteld of geomancy:''

The study. The octagon pattern has been given special treatment in this court. The motif in the latticework on the wall of the study consists of four octagons 100


The covered corridor through which we leave the Shih

Dragons chasing the pearl are held in the wall of the

Tzu Lin is lighted and decorated by windows of iron flower work, designs cut from sheet iron and hammered_ The motif for this one is the ma ple leaf.

covered corridor by the rounded outline of a temple bell. They bring peace and prosperity to the com-



munity in which they reside.


The dragons as they appear from inside the covered corridor. In the courtyard may be seen the roof of a newly constructed rectangular pavilion. 104

Wisteria-a favorite flower of the Chinese, who use the overhanging clusters on the trellises of garden bridges, on the bamboo fences of small and intimate courtyards, and on the strong, evergreen branches of the pine tree.




Author's Note-The pronunciation of Chinese words is, throughout, in the Soochow dialect, considered by the Chinese the "Parisian" Chinese. 1

a. This is the literal Chinese tran lation . In Engli h the school is known as The Laura Haygood Normal School. · b. Sowerby, A. de C., Nature in Chinese Art, p.

134. 2 Liu Yuan, pronounced, U~r' Yer'. 3 Shih Tzu Lin, pronounced, Sit zo-o Lin. The litI

eral translation is, "Stone Lion Forest." ·! See Bibliography. Chambers, Sir William, Designs of Chinese Buildings, 1757. A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, G

1772. G See Bibliography for three excellent magazine articles on Chinese gardens by Doroth y Graham, Florence B. Robinson, and Matilda C. Thurston, reChinese artists create imaginary bird s ~ s to symbolize lovely ladies like the Empress who, with the Dragon Emperor, bids us farewell to the Chinese garden.


pectively. 7 a. Howard, Edwin L., Chinese Garden Architec-

tnre, 1931.


b. Inn, Henry and Lee, S. C., Chinese Houses and Gardens, 1940. 8

a. White brothers, Gardens of the Flowery Kingdom. b. Powell, Florence L., Heaven Above-Below Soochow. 0

a. Reichwein, Adolf, China and Europe, pp. 114121. This volume is also an excellent reference on the general influence of China on the West, particularly in the eighteenth century.


Ibid. ~ The city, now called "Peiping," was still called


"Peking" at the time these photographs were made. ~ Robinson, Florence B., " Gardens of Old China," p. 94.. 1

n Y etts, W. Percival, S ymbolism in Chinese Art, pp. 3-5. 18

Sowerby, A. de C., Nature in Chinese Art, p. 155. Williams, Samuel Wells, The Middle Kingdom, Vol. I, p. 732. 10


b. von Erdberg, Eleanor, Chinese Influence on European Garden Structures, pp. 29-44: Sir William Chambers and the Anglo-Chinese Garden.

Graham, Dorothy, Chinese Gardens, pp. 31, 83. a. De Morant, George Soulie, A History of Chinese Art, p. 277.

c. Clouston, K. Warren, The Chippendale Period in English Furniture, Chap. II: "Sir William Chambers," with reproductions -of furniture and scenes irom Chambers' book of 1757.

b. Williams, Samuel Wells, The Middle Kingdom, Vol. I, p. 734.

d. Kuck, Loraine E., The Art of Japanese Gardens, pp. xv-xvii, 1-37 : How and when the Japanese garden, which has influenced the West, originated in China. 10

von Erdberg, Eleanor, Chinese Influence on European Garden Structures, p. 43 : The words in quotation marks are reprinted by permission of the President and Fellows of Harvard College. 11 See Bibliography. 12 See Bibliography. 13

Thurston, Matilda C., "Beauty in Chinese Garden Courts." 108



Sowerby, A. de C., Nature in Chinese Art, p. 156. Hayes, L. Newton, The Chinese Dragon, pp. 6, 9, 38·42. 24 Ayscough, Florence, A Chinese JV!irror, pp. 229230. 23


~ Graham, Dorothy, Chinese Gardens, pp. 47-48.


Ibid. Illustration opposite p. 41, " Peony Terrace in Early Spring." 27

Morrill, Samuel, Lanterns, Junks and Jade, p.

143. Thurston, Matilda C., "Beauty in Chinese Garden Courts." !!S


~ Sowerby, A. de C., N ature in Chinese A rt, p. l37. 30

Wilhelm, Richard, The Soul of China, p. 320. 109





Ayscough, Florence, A Chinese Mirror, p. 233. Ibid., p. 251.


Inn, Henry and Lee, S. C., Chinese Houses and Gardens, p. 28. 31 '

Sowerby, A. de C., Nature in Chinese Art, p. 73.


Wimsatt, Genevieve, A Griffin in China, pp. 246-


248. SG

Ibid., PP· 246, 251.


Ayscough, Florence, A Chinese Mirror, p. 65. 38 Ibid., p. 252. 3

°Ferguson, J. C., Outlines of Chinese Art, p. 4.


Inn, Henry and Lee, S. C., Chinese Houses and Gardens, p. 31. 41 Ibid. 4 !! Yetts, W. Percival, Symbolism in Chinese Art, p. 20.

Ayscough, Florence, A Chinese Mirror, New York, Houghton Miffiin Company, 1925. Bell, J. Munro, Editor, The Furniture Designs of Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton, New York, Robert M. McBride and Company, 1938. Chambers, Sir William, Designs of Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines, and Utensils,

Yetts, W. Percival, Symbolism in Chinese Art, pp. 13-14.

London, J. Haberkorn, 1757. A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, London, W. Griffin, 1772. De Morant, George Soulie, A H istory of Chinese Art, London, George G. Harrop and Company, Limited, 1931. Edwards, Arthur Trystan, Sir William Chambers, London, Ernest Benn, Limited, 1924·. Ferguson, J. C., Outlines of Chinese Art, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1919. Graham, Dorothy, Chinese Gardens, New York, Dodd, Mead and Company, 1938. "Some Chinese Gardens," Asia, June, 1937. Hayes, L. Newton, The Chinese Dragon, Shanghai, Commercial Press, Limited, 1923.



13 '

Graham, Dorothy, Chinese Gardens, p. 51. 4