One way to please your parents …

Yuyuan (Yu Gardens) is one Shanghai’s most visited places.  It was built over a period of 18 years during the 16th century by Pan Yunduan, a wealthy government officer of the Ming Dynasty.  It was specially built for his parents, so that that they could enjoy a quiet and relaxed old age (“yu” meaning peace and health).

The Chinese word for landscape is “shuishan” which literally translates as “water-mountain”.  And just as much of China’s natural landscape is defined by these two elements, so are the constructed landscapes of the country.  The traditional garden replicates the randomness and irregularity of nature, with a central lake ringed by rocky formations, and a scattering of small buildings and pavilions that each house a particular function or activity.

And unlike Western landscapes, Chinese gardens were very much lived in, with daily rituals and gatherings, art and performance, late-night drinking sessions, and discussions about philosophy and politics.

After centuries of private ownership, ransacking by the British and the French, destruction and rebuilding, Yuyuan became open to the public in the mid-twentieth century.  It attracts thousand of visitors daily, but I think the cold weather kept most of them away when I visited.  Which made the exploration of its multitude of spaces, passageways and quirky doorways all the more enjoyable.

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3 Responses to One way to please your parents …

  1. keelah says:

    wow, how beautiful is that. looks like it’s worth visiting in the cold, just for the peace and tranquility?

    • the cold does take a little away from the feeling of relaxation, as you just want to keep moving. not much desire to sit down (especially on a cold rock) and contemplate … the neighbouring market is always packed with people, so it was nice to have some relief from that.

  2. Pingback: Figuring out the last year … « That Look Crayzy!

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