The largest royal palace and garden was constructed from the 17th and the 18th century, particularly in the beginning of the Qianlongs reign. The garden is known for essential elements of the traditional Chinese garden art. It is also considered to be an excellent representative of the Chinese historical royal garden landscaping. The gardens were designed by the Qianlong, who was more fascinated with the culture and art and also of a great composition and drawings. He was so much of an explorer who loved to do landscaping, travel and also embrace the natural environment.
Specifically, the Qianlong Emperor wished to establish a palace in 1750, as a way of celebrating the 60th birthday of his mother. The palace was built on the Western Lake and Jar Hill. The construction of the summer palace was completed in 1764 at a cost of 4.8 million silver and was named Qingyiyuan (gardens of clear ripples) (Thomas 123). Its design was based on the Chinese mythology regarding the three divine mountains in the East Sea namely Yingzhou, Penglai and Fanghang. The palace was decorated with many architectural features that imitated and resembled various Chinese designs. Some of those features include the Jingming Tower that resembled the Yueyang Tower; the Phoenix Pier is representing Lake Tai, the shopping streets imitating those in Suzhou and Yangzhou and the Wangchan Pavilion resembles the Yellow Crane Tower. Besides, it had a long corridor 700 m that was decorated with artistic features (Mrazek, Jan, and Morgan 5). At the center of the summer palace, the Great Temple of Gratitude and Longevity was designed and established.
During the first nine years of Qianlongs reigning period, the summer palace was completed and extended. This period is referred to as the era for royal gardens. The palace that was located in the Fragrant Hills was also reconstructed under a new name which was normally referred to as the Garden of Tranquility and Pleasure (Wang 136). The fifth year of 1750, the Garden of Light and Tranquility and Pleasure was extended. In the same year, the construction of the Garden of Clear Ripples was also constructed, and that formed the beginning of the Summer Palace leading to the alteration of the landscape from the Wengshan Hill to Longevity Hill and the Xihu Lake to Kunming Lake. The three hills and the five gardens were completed during the reign of Qianlong with a tremendous landscape.
The composition of the Summer Palace spanned approximately 3.5 km2 with a high composition of rich landscape of architectural complexes, hills, and water that was mostly used for royal recreation functions (Wang 136). The Summer Palace was considered as Paradise on earth for the Emperor Qianlong. In the consideration of the layout, the section was divided into a natural water system and the garden consisted of eight sections which were the palace area, the jiuhzou which is the nine regional divisions of the ancient China area, Fuhai Lake, northeast area, European-Style Palace area, the External Spring Garden and the Elegant Spring Garden. The garden is given a scenic area of the garden with the European-style Palaces designed at a distinctive design (Wang 136). The Summer Palace absorbs the essentials of the Jiangnan Gardens whereby it undertakes the design gimmicks of the borrowed scenery in the past work of art. The obstructive scenery formed a twisted and waving effect on the comparatively flat ground.
Emperor Qianlong loved how to compose and also draw making art an act of passion which he made to its perfection. He was the one who oversaw that the instruction to make the garden be landscape was followed to the latter and he put emphasis on the organic bond and the wild plants that were to feature the summer palace (Cotterell 274). The reason for the garden and the features was to drive points on the harmony that was to exist between the mountains, water, and the pavilions. The combination of the building also together with the environment was also used to indicate that there was peace.
The buildings location is situated on the sceneries of water and the hills. The idea that Qianlong wanted to depict was the fact that the building of the structure is done to support the natural environment without compromising nature. The buildings were designed for the Royals, but they are also designed with a simple typical residential architecture which is elegant yet unique.
Fengsanwusi and Jiuzhouqingyan halls are considered as the most complex halls in the entire garden since they are located on the same axis line in the palace area. The style of the building, according to the traditional Geomancy of the Chinese culture, it was built into that arrangement to foster prosperity and peace amongst them all. What the Emperor wanted to demonstrate in the design of the Summer Palace was that even though water and the hills separate the buildings, the place remains connected. The main agenda of the scenic area is more about custom and the cultural market.
The more realistic functions of the buildings are related to the tradition and the customs since they are building in an orderly manner and a regular shape. The materials that were used as a result of the stone made a niche and the water towers that were on both sides were like the sculpted marble and colored glaze bricks (Wang 138). The Summer Palace was more of a combination of different traditional and the exotic designs and cultures. The study shows that a French writer known as Victor-Marie claimed that the garden should be regarded as the unparallel masterpiece and a dreamy paragon.
Everyone worked themselves out so that they could reach the highest social ladder. From the urban villas, imperial court to the monarchs and the rest, they had a conference on culture and the accumulation of the values that led to the sharing of aesthetic and beauty. The state was made better to be of taste and not to look as it was since the mental walls were a sign of cultural diversity. The Qianlongs taste changed the way people used to live with an orthodox taste while the lifestyle was like being tamed. Emperor Qianlong formed a legacy as a royalty who had great taste and the imperial prompt that were unmovable.
The Emperor was able to put into consideration the fact that the monuments are what brings political, aesthetic which was not a must for it to please anyone but to inspire and also demand. The art was public but unique. The embodiment of the principle of architecture surrounded the Chinese culture and traditions. With all the pavilions, the terraces, and the courtyards, they can recapitulate the spaciousness and the symmetry of the cosmos. Along with a total of 723,600 square meters, the encompassed humankind elevated the emperor and the other residents. The custodian of the culture should be firm and should be able to be profound, intellectual and be able to approve the sovereignty. The whole structure was a result of the Emperor temperament. His exposition to the throne and merchant was exemplary and was never incomparable
Qing Empire declined and as the Daoguang Emperor took over. Due to its high maintenance cost, the summer palace was neglected and most of the architectural features dismantled. The British also participated in the destruction of the Summer Palace as revenge for the killing of four Britons, a journalist, two British envoys and their escorts. Its destruction, however, evokes strong feelings among some Chinese.
One aspect of the architectural components that Qianlong utilized in the summer palace and the gardens was purely an imitation of the European designs. It was all based on the same appreciation for the aesthetic play (Thomas 126). Qianlong adopted the European architectural designs to a large extent more than any other part of France or England. The summer palace especially adopted architectural design models from Italy, France and Australia. They were used in the building of the palace with a complete set of exterior stonework, animated fountains (Chinese gardens) and elaborate with the guidance of Michel Benoist, Castiglione and their fellow Jesuits in 1747. The summer palace was further decorated with the ornamented hybrid patterns of stone carvings, fitted with chandeliers, European mirrors, tapestries, and paintings. By 1753 and 1759, two of the largest buildings within the palace (Wondrous Delights and Hall of Ocean Pleasure) were completed respectively. The Wondrous Delights and Hall of Ocean Pleasure had an enormous water tank in its middle part (Thomas 127). Also, at its front stood a fountain clock with twelve bronze figures with animal head representing the twelve earthly branches and water was sprouting from each of them every two hours. In his buildings, Qianlong never adopted western architecture. Instead, he depended solely on Chinese and European architectural designs.
During this Qing period, the Chinese garden styles became more prevalent and elegance. The garden in the palace, for instance, was built by a doctor. More other gardens were established within the summer palace, and they became a fashion for explicitly showing off (Zheng 8). They indicated the possession and development of more artistic tastes and talents and lofty spiritual freedom; The Qing Emperor Qian Long also used Jiangnan architectural style to decorate his imperial gardens. Some of the famous summer palace gardens that were decorated using this style include Harmonious Interest Garden. The Chinese garden culture adopted a new style altogether and the garden view name was becoming more and more interesting and colorful.
Besides portraying lofty spiritual freedom, the gardens at the Longs summer palace manifested an aspect of desolation and hopelessness in the Chinese society. Some of the anchorites were kicked out of their official posts to seek new homes during the political turbulences in the political milieu. Different Chinese people expressed mingled feelings regarding these situations (Zheng 10). A perfect situation of strong feelings of desolation and helplessness regarding the Longs Palace gardens was observed in the Wen Zhengmings prose for the Wang Familys garden of the politician (Zhuo Zheng Yuan) who was unsuccessful.
The influence of the gardens of the Longs Summer Palace spread in the whole of China. It, however, expressed various feelings on different periods. Having expressed a long period of pain and sorrow in the late 17th century and early 18th century, towards the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, the gardens took a new form (Jing and Zhang 137). New meanings were attached to the gardens, and they expressed happiness. For example, established a garden during the reign of Qing Dynasty and named it aspiration garden (Zhi Pu) in honor of his grandfathers unfulfilled dream (Zheng 13). The gardens portrayed happiness in life and were observed as a symbol of beatitude. They also encouraged various scholars to engage and combine efforts in exchanging poems, paintings, and calligraphy as a way of enhancing them. The scholars and painters would always meet at the Joyous Garden (Yi Yuan) where they could exchange ideas.
Jin and Wei scholars were major contributors of the establishment of the distinguished landscape aesthetics and the spiritual ideas of satisfaction and aptness. They also brought the concept of small and plain gardens that became the flavor of everybody in the whole China. The gardens during the reign of the Qing were even minimized to a miniature landscape or even a single plotted plant. They were given names such as the Mustard Seed Garden or the Half Acre Garden to represent their sizes. A garden such as Washing Fragrance Garden was constructed between 759 and 1844 and it comprised of only three or two osmanthus in front of the hall and only three spans (Ying...
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