Lingering Garden or Liu Yuan — Brilliant Qing Style Suzhou Garden

Lingering Garden or Liu Yuan of Suzhou, Photo from Official Site of Lingering Garden.

Lingering Garden or Liu Yuan of Suzhou, Photo from Official Site of Lingering Garden.

What is Lingering Garden?

 

Lingering Garden or Liu Yuan in Suzhou is an exceptional representative of the classical private Southern Style garden of the Qing Dynasty (1636 — 1912). 

 

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lingering Garden is famous for remarkably set exquisite sceneries in limited spaces, which realized "A Different View For Each Step",  and perfectly shows elegant intellectuals' aesthetic.

 

Besides, the garden is also renowned for its brilliant use of beautiful natural stones from Taihu Lake, a valuable decorative material in Chinese culture.

 
Artful Rockeries of Lingering Garden

Artful Rockeries of Lingering Garden, Photo by Ying Zhigang. 

History and name changes of the Lingering Garden.

 

In 1593, a retired official named Xu Taishi firstly built the garden, with the help of a rockery master and artist named Zhou Shichen. 

 

Xu Taishi was a talented scholar and a brilliant designer, who had involved in the restoration and construction of royal palaces and mausoleums before. 

 

He named his masterpiece as Eastern Garden or Dong Yuan, which was once quite famous for its beauty, and had been recorded and eulogized by many intellectuals. 

 
Arch Door and Idyllic View of the Lingering Garden, Photo from Official Site of Lingering Garden.

Arch Door and Idyllic View of the Lingering Garden, Photo from Official Site of Lingering Garden. 

The garden gradually fell into disuse after Xu Taishi passed away. 

Until 1794, another intellectual and artist Liu Shu bought and renovated the garden, and renamed it Hanbi Shanzhuang.

 

Liu Shu carved many famous poems and articles, including his work, on the walls of a long corridor, and placed more valuable Taihu Lake stones in this garden. 

 

Since then, the garden has become more famous for its artful rocks, and people named it the Liu's Garden.

Part of the "12 Rockeries of Hanbi Shanzhuang", Painted by Artist Wang Xuehao in 1802

Part of "12 Rockeries of Hanbi Shanzhuang", Painted by Artist Wang Xuehao in 1802 — Shanghai Museum

In 1873, Sheng Kang bought the garden. He renovated and expanded the Liu's Garden, and renamed it "Liu Yuan". 

 

This Liu is the same pronunciation as the family name of the last owner Liu Shu, but with a completely different meaning:  lingering and stay. 

 

Afterward, this garden has been called Liu Yuan or Lingering Garden.

Scene "Gumu Jiaoke" with Ancient Tablet, Symbolizing Happy Life of A Beloved Couple, Photo from Official Site of Lingering Garden.

Scene "Gumu Jiaoke" with Ancient Tablet, Symbolizing Happy Life of A Beloved Couple, Photo from Official Site of Lingering Garden. 

During the embattled early-to-mid 20th century, the Lingering Garden became obsolete. 

 

Until 1953, it was put under protection, when careful restorations were implemented gradually. 

 

Decades later in 1997, the Lingering Garden was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, as an important Classical Gardens of Suzhou.

Artful Arch Doors of the Lingering Garden

Artful Arch Doors of the Lingering Garden, Photo by Jinjide Duorou.

Structural and aesthetic designs of the Lingering Garden.

 

The Lingering Garden consists of four sections, east, west, north, and middle, which are connected by a long corridor. 

 

The middle part was Liu Shu's Bihan Shanzhuang, the essence and most beautiful part of the Lingering Garden.

 

The east, west, and north parts were added by Sheng Kang in 1873, who built a long corridor that connects these four parts. 

 

Hang on the walls of this long corridor are over 370 pieces of ancient tablet inscriptions. 

 
Calligraphy Inscriptions on the Long Corridor of Lingering Garden

Calligraphy Inscriptions on the Long Corridor of Lingering Garden, Photo by Ying Zhigang.

Among added sections by Sheng Kang, the western part is famous for its idyllic rockery views, the northern part today is mainly presenting potted landscapes (or Penjing), and the eastern section has the invaluable ancient building complex. 

Luxurious Nanmu Hall or Wufeng Xianguan in East Part of Lingering Garden

Luxurious Nanmu Hall or Wufeng Xianguan in East Part of Lingering Garden, Photo by 97Lang. 

Poetic nomenclatures and literary significance of the Lingering Garden.

 

As an excellent representative of the aesthetic of intellectuals, every building in Lingering Garden has a beautiful, poetic name, most of which were from famous ancient poems or articles.

 

Important Data of Lingering Garden.

 

  • Lingering Garden or Liu Yuan is in Suzhou city of Jiangsu Province;

 

  • It is about 23,300 square meters large, and consists of four sections (eastern, middle, northern, and western);

  • There are over 670 meters long corridors in the garden, and about 370 pieces of ancient tablet inscriptions are displaying on their walls;

  • There are over 200 decorative lattice windows in Lingering Garden;

  • There are over 500 potted landscapes (or Penjing) in Lingering Garden;

  • The tallest rockery Guanyun Feng is 6.5 meters high, which is also the tallest rockery of Suzhou Gardens.

 
Guanyun Feng in Lingering Garden

Guanyun Feng in Lingering Garden, Photo by 97Lang.