By Young-tsu Wong
Famous for its magnificient structure and historical past, the Yuanming Yuan is China's most famed imperial backyard. the writer brings "the backyard of ideal brightness" to existence as he leads readers on a grand travel of its structure and historical past.
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Extra info for A Paradise Lost: The Imperial Garden Yuanming Yuan
T O N G L E Y UA N (All-Happy Garden) 1 2 3 4 N 5 6 Farming Gallery (Kenong Xuan), contained rows of small yet elegant chambers and villas on both sides of a narrow river (cf. Yu Mingzhong 1985, 3:1341–1375; Yuanming yuan sishijing tuyong 1985:45, 47, 53, 55, 57). On the east side of the Northernmost Mountain Village arose the Sitting Rocks and the Winding Stream (Zuoshi Linliu), which included a replica of the celebrated Orchid Pavilion (Lan Ting) located at Shaoxing in Zhejiang province. The Orchid Pavilion was the garden estate of the great East Jin calligrapher Wang Xizhi (321–379), who spent time there in the company of scholarly friends drinking wine, practicing calligraphy, and composing poems.
8 His Majesty could observe from a pavilion how farm work was performed. Later he added to this rice ﬁeld a silkworm farm and a brocade and dye mill. Ever since the Wei-Jin period, between the third and fourth centuries, the Chinese literati continuously tried to ﬁnd their own distinct character in the expression of garden design in general and flower arrangement and rock formation in particular. While some wanted to show their unique ambition, others wanted to demonstrate their stainless, magnanimous, or aloof personalities.
Crossing a stream over a flat bridge from the site of the Five-Fortunes Hall, one arrived at the Blue Phoenix-Tree Academy (Bitong Shuyuan). Its main structure, facing south, included a three-column front house, a ﬁvecolumn main court, and a ﬁve-column rear court. Tidy Wutong trees grew on each side of the courtyards to provide long shade over the houses, which appeared to be hidden. Qianlong is said to have loved coming here to hear the sounds of rain, which inspired him to write poems. Westward from the academy was the Gentle Clouds Cover All (Ciyun Puhu).
A Paradise Lost: The Imperial Garden Yuanming Yuan by Young-tsu Wong