Photo essay: Gardens of China
September 30, 2004
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
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
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
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
Farrokh A. Ashtiani is the founder of PersianParadise.com