restricted access Garden of Peace and Comfort (Yu Yuan), Shanghai
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y u y ua n GARDEN OF PEACE AND COMFORT The Garden of Peace and Comfort in Shanghai, eighty-five kilometers from ­ Suzhou, is among the largest of the scholar gardens. The large yellow stone rockery and brick carving of the dragon walls and roof figures are exemplary. Yu Yuan, unlike most gardens where earthen hills and rockeries divide the landscape scenes, is compartmentalized into dozens of small “spacecells ,” as Maggie Keswick refers to them, by tall white walls capped with black tiles. Pan En and his son, Pan Yunduan, began the garden during the Ming Dynasty reign of Emperor Jiajing (1559), when Shanghai was just a small coastal village. The garden was severely damaged when it was occupied by troops during the Taiping Rebellion in 1861, and the garden that is visible today is largely rebuilt since the 1950s. The approach to the garden is across a zigzag bridge crossing a small pond with a teahouse, which was formerly part of the garden and a purported model for the pavilion on the blue willow pattern of porcelain. The entrance is off the forecourt at the end of the bridge. Garden of peace and comfort 131 HALL OF ABUNDANCE The spacious and dignified Sansui Hall, or Three Ears of Corn Hall, lies just inside the gate. Rice, wheat, corn, and fruit are carved on the wooden beams and frames to signify abundance and prosperity. A small rear­ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Figure 90. Plan of the Garden of Peace and Comfort Outer Garden 1. Fifteen Zigzag Bridge 2. Teahouse 3. Entrance Rockery Area 4. Three Ears of Corn Hall 5. Rockery Stream Area 6. Waterside Pavilion for Viewing Happy Fish 7. Stream 8. Dragonhead wall 9. Spring Hall View Gathering Area 10. View Gathering Hall 11. Exquisite Jade Peak 12. Gate to Inner Garden 132 the gardens of suzhou Figure 91. The Garden of Peace and Comfort is divided into distinct spaces by tilecapped walls, including this one that terminates in a dragonhead. Garden of peace and comfort 133 corridor is framed at each end by vase-shaped gates, the first of many shapely gates in the garden. Behind the hall is a two-story pavilion with exuberant flying eaves that is perched high over a pond and looks toward the rockery to the north. YELLOW STONE ROCKERY The rockery, which is piled over forty feet tall, was built by the Ming Dynasty master, Zhang Nanyang, and is his only surviving work. The rockery steps back rather than pushes forward as many do. Near the summit is a pavilion from which there was once a panoramic view across Shanghai and boats on the Huangpu River. THE SMALL STREAM East of the rockery is a compact, dense, and fascinating complex of spaces with a double corridor, several pavilions, and a pair of old trees in a courtyard arranged along a small stream (see Pause and Observe). A short bridge crosses the stream, but before entering the double corridor, be sure to turn south to the Yule Pavilion, or the Waterside Pavilion for Viewing Happy Fish. From here one can see the stream crawl under an arch at the bottom of a wall decorated with a carved window. The double corridor—a train-wreck-like series of short segments— bends sharply and is pierced by windows that force views from one side of the corridor to the other. One can careen through one side of this faceted passage, turn around, and continue to capture montage-like glimpses of rocks, then water, then other people, then the rail of a porch, then the leaf of a banana plant, and on and on. Stumbling out of the corridor, one arrives in a calm, intimate courtyard in front of Wanhua (Ten Thousand Flower) Hall. The courtyard is dominated by two trees protected by marble balustrades: a four-hundredyear -old ginkgo tree that was planted in the Ming Dynasty and a magnolia tree that is more than two hundred years old. The courtyard overlooks the 134 the gardens of suzhou Figure 92. Banana plants enliven the west end of the stream. Rainwater bounces off the glossy surface of the subtropical plants and into the deep water of the ravine with sharp, resonant tapping. In clearer weather, bright sunlight penetrates the thin membranes of the large, bright green leaves to reflect onto the still water of the stream. Garden of peace and comfort 135­ narrow stream to a rockery...


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Subject Headings

  • Historic gardens -- China -- Suzhou (Jiangsu Sheng).
  • Gardens, Chinese -- China -- Suzhou (Jiangsu Sheng).
  • Landscape architecture -- China -- Suzhou (Jiangsu Sheng).
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