Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou

I wanted to make this post short, just a few highlights. After all, I visited the Humble Administrator’s Garden at the time of the year when it is least impressive. However, the highlights were too many and I decided not to deprive the reader of any. Besides, I missed enough of them anyway. I won’t to talk much about the history of this garden. Let’s just say that it was laid out in 1509 (Ming Dynasty) by a retired Imperial Inspector by the name Wang Xian Chen, and in case you are wondering… no, he wasn’t humble. Just a rich guy who was curious about the idea of being not rich. Nevertheless, he built a great garden which basically was his residential compound. The garden is nearly 52,000 sq. m. and images below show some of its scenery.

The interiors of the buildings were beautifully appointed too (see images below).

Both the garden and the indoors featured many quality viewing stones (see images below).

There was one aspect of Chinese gardens I wasn’t aware of before my trip to China. It is the mosaic paving. I did talk about Japanese paved paths or nobedan in my post on Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto (see, but this is different. Once again I realised that what I’ve seen in Japan is but a fragment of a bigger whole that exists in China. Images below show some of the paving in the garden.

The garden and the buildings as whole have lots of little things that catch your attention for a moment and then fade away. However, they all add up to the overall impression of complexity and sophistication. Below are some examples of that, just to convey the mood of what I’m saying.

Here is the legend to the images above:

A - porcelain plant pot with penjing painted on it.
B - funky padlock
C - beautifully aged wall plaque
D - cute hand railing knob
E - old and gnarly garden tree
F - rock naturally shaped as an ink stone

To fully appreciate this garden one needs to see it in winter snow, in spring blossom, in green of summer and in autumn colour. Unfortunately, I’ve seen none of it.

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