Dear friend, today the little donkey will accompany you to visit the famous Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou, which is picturesque. Built in the first year of emperor Zhengde’s reign in Ming dynasty (early sixteenth century), it has a history of more than five hundred years. The Humble Administrator’s Garden of Suzhou is a representative work of the Jiangnan classical gardens. In 1961, it was listed in the first batch of national key cultural heritage protective units by the State Council and was honored as the China’s four famous gardens, together with Beijing Summer Palace, Chengde Mountain Resort and Suzhou Lingering Garden. In 1991, it was honored as a national special tourist spot by the National Planning Commission, the Tourist Bureau and the Ministry of Construction. In 1997, as a typical example of the classical garden in Suzhou, it was registered in the World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. And in 2007, it became the first batch of 5A scenic spots in China.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden is located in the No.178 Northeast Street in Suzhou City, it is the largest and most renowned classical garden in Suzhou, covering an area of 78 Mu (about 5.2 hectares). With water as its forte, the constructive art of the garden is natural and classical. The courtyards are well-arranged, flowers and trees are wonderful. The court supervisor Wang Xianchen of Ming dynasty was the first owner of the Humble Administrator’s Garden, he built the garden when he returned home after his failure in the official career; the garden was named from a sentence in Pan Yue’s poem Ode to Idleness in Jin dynasty :a humble and clumsy man who deals with politics. At that time, in the garden, there were 31 scenic spots, such as villa-like Hall and Dream hiding building; trees were luxuriant and ponds were crooked, which were very famous and elegant in the eastern land. In the 12th year of Emperor Jiajing’s reign (1533), the famous painter Wen Zhengming painted 31 paintings according to different scenic spots in the garden, composed poems for each scenery and wrote an article named A Note to the Humble Administrator’s Garden of Wang.
Since the Humble Administrator’s Garden was established, it has gone through separations and combinations as well as rises and falls, and the owner of the garden also switched several times. In thr 4th year of Emperor Chongzhen’s reign in Ming Dynasty (1631), the eastern part of the garden was purchased by the assistant minister Wang Zhongyi and was built as a rustic retirement home for himself, the garden therefore was divided into two parts. In the early years of Emperor Qianlong’s reign, the central and western parts of the garden were divided into two parts: named Fu Garden and Book Garden respectively. Fu Garden was owned by the prefecture chief Jiang Qi, his family has owned it for years and restored its old view. The owner of Book Garden was the court historian Ye Shikuan, and in the garden, there were some scenic spots such as Book Embracing Pavilion, Book Reading Veranda, Calligraphy Corridor and Book Irrigating Pavilion. Since then, the united and integrated Humble Administrator’s Garden had evolved into three self-formative gardens.
In 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860), Prince Zhong of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, named Li Xiucheng, built his palace here. There were many sumptuous dwellings in the palace which is like the fairyland. In the second year of Emperor Tongzhi’s reign (1863), the palace of Prince Zhong was occupied by Li Hongzhang and was set as a temporary office of the grand coordinators in Jiangsu. In 10th year of Emperor Tongzhi’s reign (1872), the Central Section was set to be the Eight Banners’ hall. In 3th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1877), the Western Section belonged to Zhang Lvqian and was named as Bu Garden, and the Eastern Section gradually became deserted.
After my previous introduction, you may have roughly understood the historical development of the Humble Administrator’s Garden, next let your little donkey introduce the three gardens in eastern, central and western sections respectively to you carefully. The eastern garden is wide and bright, the central one is the essence of the whole garden, while the western one has exquisite architectures, therefore three gardens are all characteristic.
The central section is the main scenic area and the essence of the Humble Administrator’s Garden, covering an area of about 18.5 Mu. Although the central section has gone through great changes and has large differences with the garden in an earlier period, it now is mainly composed by water; artificial mountains rise in ponds which are surrounded by halls, pavilions and verandas, such layout basically inherits the style in Ming Dynasty.
The eastern garden covers an area of about 31 Mu, whose layout mainly bases on the style named “residence after retire" designed by Wang Xinyi in Ming Dynasty. The middle of which is the Green Containing Pool, and the main building named Orchid and Snow Hall was built in the north of the pool which is surrounded by Osmanthus, prunes and bamboos. In south and left of the pool, there are the Cloud Dotted Peak and Cliff Connected Peak. In west of the Orchid and Snow Hall, there are irregular phoenix trees, flourishing woods and tall bamboos. Creeks and ravines also encircle the hall. In north of the Orchid and Snow Hall, there are Ziluo Mountain and Yangdang Pool. In east of the Orchid and Snow Hall, there is a lotus pond which covers an area of four to five Mu. Farmlands and sorghum are all in your sight.
The Western Section of the Humble Administrator’s Garden was originally named as “Bu Garden”. It covers an area of 12.5 Mu and its present layout was formed in Zhang LvQian period. With pools in the center, winding water connects to the central large pool. The surface of the water is circuitous, the layout is compact and this place is located at the foot of a hill and beside a pool to build pavilions around. Due to great reconstruction, the exquisite and artificial artistic style prevailed after Emperor Qianlong’s reign. However, the scenery of waters and stones is still similar with the view of the Central Section. The wavy and winding water corridors and mountain streams are the masterpiece within the Suzhou classical garden art. The decoration here is exquisite and luxurious. Among them, the Mandarin duck hall at the south side is the largest.
After listening to the previous introduction, I guess you may already have a general impression on the Humble Administrator's Garden, then please follow me to walk into the representative of Jiangnan classical garden and enjoy its beauty with you own eyes.