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Chinese experience
Photo essay: Gardens of China

Farrokh A. Ashtiani
September 30, 2004
iranian.com

Although it’s thought that the Chinese may have had gardens for thousands of years but due to the closed and limited access to Chinese culture no documents are available to validate the age of their gardening arts beyond 1000 A.D >>> See photos

But we know that the Silk Road existed centuries before that and we know that most beautiful silkworks were sent from China to the rest of the world and thus we know White Mulberry Morus alba is a native of China the main source of food for silkworm.

Chinese classical private gardens were experienced as cultural rather than the scenic. They were designed by artists and poets and were regarded as "Three-Dimensional Landscape Paintings and Solid Landscape Poetry."

Actually, Chinese classical landscape painting was unique for having poems written on paintings and making a painting combination of landscape and poetic calligraphy strokes -this was the so-called "poetic landscape painting."

Chinese classical gardens were created in the same way, as a combination of landscape and paintings together with poems -this was the so-called "poetic garden."

The design concept of Chinese private gardens was to provide a "spiritual utopia" for people to come back to Great Nature, to come back to one's inner heart, to come back to ancient idealism. In other words, Chinese private gardens were spiritual shelter for men of letters a place closer to Nature, closer to one's own heart, closer to the ancient, while far-away from their monarchic feudal social system in China.

In fact, private gardens were a kind of non-spoken language with which these men of letter might speak to Nature, to themselves and to ancient idealists, with whom they might speak out what they couldn't speak normally. A very famous poet-painter was Liu Zhong-yuan (773-819 AD) and here is a poem from him about the Foolishman's Garden:

A Big Fish
Rolling in the ebb and flow of tides,
Struggling with wind and wave of sea,
I am trying to test my strength and wisdom
in a thunderstorm.
Being no longer a fish of garden,
Being now a fish of ocean,
I belong to great Nature,
with my fin like an island,
with my back carrying the setting sun.
This East Sea seems not big enough now
for me to turn my body over.
Where could the fisherman find so big
a fish

>>> See photos

Author
Farrokh A. Ashtiani is the founder of PersianParadise.com

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