Inspired by these royal hunting gardens built by the King of the State of Wu, private gardens began emerging around the 4th century and finally reached the climax in the 18th century. The earliest of these, the Canglang Pavilionwas built in the early 11th century on the site of an earlier, destroyed garden. Conceived and built under the influence of the unconstrained poetic freehand style originally seen in traditional Chinese landscape paintings, they are noted for their profound merging of exquisite craftsmanship, artistic elegance and rich cultural implications. These gardens lend insight into how ancient Chinese intellectuals harmonized conceptions of aestheticism in a culture of reclusion within an urban living environment.
These gardens were large enclosed parks where the kings and nobles hunted game, or where fruit and vegetables were grown. Early inscriptions from this period, carved on tortoise shells, have three Chinese characters for garden, you, pu and yuan. You was a royal garden where birds and animals were kept, while pu was a garden for plants. During the Qin dynasty — BC , yuan became the character for all gardens.
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History[ edit ] Early Japanese rock gardens[ edit ] Rock gardens existed in Japan at least since the Heian period — These early gardens were described in the first manual of Japanese gardens, Sakuteiki "Records of Garden Keeping" , written at the end of the 11th century by Tachibana no Toshitsuna — They were largely copied from the Chinese gardens of the Song Dynasty — , where groups of rocks symbolized Mount Penglai , the legendary mountain-island home of the Eight Immortals in Chinese mythology , known in Japanese as Horai.
This lesson introduces the four basic elements of Chinese gardens: rocks, water, plants, and buildings, as well as discusses particular uses and how they interact. A Different Focus in Garden Design If you are familiar with beautiful gardens in North America or Europe, you might have noticed that the main element of these spaces are the plants themselves, sometimes with a building or other structure as a focal point. Chinese gardens, however, neither stress plants as the main component nor do they place buildings as a central focus.