13 December 2010

Suzhou - CangLang (Surging Wave) Pavilion 蘇州 - 滄浪亭

"If the Canglang River is dirty I wash my muddy feet; If the Canglang River is clean I wash my ribbon" - The owner of the Canglang Pavilion quoted this verse from Songs of the South and derived the name of the garden he resided in after the his removal from office.  The verses alluded to the manner in politics - one rather be honest and be removed from office rather than behave in corrupted manner to fit in.

Canglang Pavilion was built in 1044 CE.  It is the oldest garden with literature, recording its existence back from Tang Dynasty.  Due to its longggggg history, there were 32 essays written about the Pavilion, rendering it one of best recorded garden.  It was once "flattened" during Civil War, and rebuilt to re-establish its "outlook" (not the actual building fabric as such).  Canglang Pavilion was incribed on UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.

If "man-made nature" was an abrupt summary of Chinese Garden philosophy, then Canglang Pavilion could be representing just that.  The critical mass of "time" the garden has encapsulated can be experienced in every corner, with all vegetation taking its own shape and form, whether or not originally intended.  I am curious to know, to what extent was the current form of the garden "designed"?  What is distinguishing between the "intended" and "unintended"? Maybe it is not important.

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