Suzhou Part A May2
We arrived in Suzhou right on schedule, and our new guide, Ann, met us and took us to our hotel — the Bamboo Grove. It was very nice and comfortable, so we enjoyed a good night’s sleep. In the mornings, we had breakfast in the western restaurant overlooking a small garden.
May 2. Breakfast.
Breakfast The garden outside the restaurant
Garden of Humble Administrator. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humble_Administrator’s_Garden
This famous garden made an immense impression on me in 2004, when I had visited Suzhou with a group of American and Chinese higher education teachers and administrators. I have wanted to make certain that Deb could also enjoy this wonderful place, as well as to explore others. We were successful!
The garden was the home and garden of a scholar during the Tang Dynasty, but in 1513 it was acquired by an administrator and poet of the Ming Dynasty, Wang Xiancheng, who had been released from service to the emperor (i.e., fired) and retired to Suzhou. As a "humbled" administrator, and thinking of a poem he thought apropos, he named it, the Garden of the Humble Administrator. Unfortunately, when it passed to his son, he lost it due to gambling debts! I recalled how much fun faculty members on my last trip here had in pointing out the hilarity of the concept of a "humble administrator," and because I was one (administrator — not humble, of course), everyone wanted my picture next to the sign! Anyway, I was back, and it had not changed — just the season of the year. Three things were different though: this time, I was with Deb, this time we had more time, and we could spend as much or as little time at a given spot as we wanted, and this time, we got to see that the garden is many times larger than I thought it was.
In many respects all Chinese gardens of a scale approximating this one contain some common elements. These are the residences of former owners, and many "living rooms" from which to enjoy some special aspect of the garden at a particular time of year. They also have stages from which music or poetry can be heard, and they invariably (as far as I have noted) have one or more lakes or large ponds that have been landscaped carefully to achieve a beauty and tranquility that is spectacular. Finally, there is always a stone "boat" — house in the shape of a large ancient boat in one or more of the lakes. You will see these elements in the photos of this and the other gardens we visited. Finally, the (prior) livings spaces are furnished with appropriate furniture, generally from the Qing Dynasty, but is a few cases, furniture from older Ming Dynasty can be seen.
Garden entrance Inside front gate
Grotto near entrance
Grotto near entrance By Small lake
Small Lake Stone Boat
I did not realize that this penzing garden existed on my previous visit to this garden in 2004. Wow!
Penzai Garden Ann’s favorite — 800 years old
Penzai Garden — Deb’s favorite Penzai Garden
Sitting Room with Qing furniture Crane figure in sidewalk
Deb in garden Qing women’s sitting room —
opium chairs and foot massage foot rest
Joy Garden http://www.terebess.hu/kert/magankert/garden10.html or Garden of Pleasance. Built during the late Qing Dynasty as a private garden.
Canal near the garden Entrance
Joy Garden Leaving the garden
Tiger Hill — Leaning Pagoda. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Hill,_Suzhou Tiger Hill is the burial site of King Helu, of the late Spring and Autumn period, 515 – 496 B.C., who built the first wall around want has become Suzhou. Legend is that a white tiger rested on his tomb after his death. Tiger hill is also the site of a leaning pagoda Yunyan pagoda, completed in 961.
Deb in sedan chair Entry Hall
Leaving Tiger Hill
Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute. A wonderful place where embroidery artists create beautiful "paintings" in silk by embroidery. Photos aren’t permitted in the galleries, but one can watch artists working on projects around a large studio. There is also a large showroom where you can buy pieces of art. Some are two-sided and some are one-sided. We bought a two sided piece made by students as a wedding gift for a couple we know who were married recently (see photo). A similar piece done by the laoshi (teachers) would have been ten times more expensive, while on done by one of the masters would have been 100 times or greater more expensive. For example, a portrait of a old woman who lives in Suzhou by one of the masters was between 200,000 and 300,000 RMB. (see photo I took from the advertizing brochure they gave us.) Similarly, a portrait of Lady Diana was over 300,000 RMB. These, of course are one-sided for framing for a wall hanging. The two-sided works, are spectacular and each side is a translucent picture or landscape. Some are up to two meters wide by one to 1,5 meters in height for placement in a screen, for example. These may require years to complete! One that I especially liked was about ¥1,500,000. (I decided not to buy it, after all! . Check these out! http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/arts/embroidery.htm
Mandarin duck embroidery backside. Front looks same, but mirror image.
Silk Embroidery Portrait of Suzhou Lady