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Wuxi Jichang Garden Travel Guide


wuxi jichang garden
wuxi jichang garden
wuxi jichang garden
wuxi jichang garden
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Jichang Garden located at the east foot of Huishan Hill, west downtown area of Wuxi city. It is in the Xihui Park and adjacent to Huishan Temple. As one of the most famous classic gardens in East China, also known as Jiangnan region, Jichang garden used to be a private garden was donated to government in 1952, and well preserved by municipal government of Wuxi. In 1988, it was listed as one of the key historic and cultural sites under the national protection. During the period in 1999 -2000, with an approval of cultural site administrators, the southeast part of Jichang garden, ruined in the warfare between Qing troops and Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, was reconstructed, the highlighted architecture like Lingxu Pavilion, Xianyue Xie and Woyun Tang were delicately restored. The great view of the classic gardens reappears.

Jichang garden is a villa-style garden backing on hills. Today’s garden area is 14.85 mu. The layout of the whole garden centers on the hill and pool. It skillfully borrows lots of nature to design its beauty. Generally, the beauty of Jichang garden is highlighted with its natural hill, exquisite water, impressive garden, time-honored trees and the marvelous landscape. It is naturally an explanation to the preferences of Kangxi Emperor and Qianlong Emperor to this garden, and lots of poems were left. Today’s Xiequ Garden in Beijing Summer Palace and Double Cranes Mansion in Yuanmingyuan Garden are both the typical garden layout learnt from Jichang Garden.

The History of Wuxi Jichang Garden

Jichang Yuan is also called "Qin Yuan"(秦园, due to the surname of the garden owner was Qin). The site used to be two monasteries, called "Nan Yin"(南隐) and "Ou Yu"(沤寓). During Zhengde years (1506–1521) of Ming Dynasty, former director of Nanjing military department, Qin Jin(秦金), purchased monastery "Ou Yu" of Huishan Temple. Qin was a metropolitan graduate in Hongzhi 6th year and also the descendant of Qin Guan(秦观), a famous lyricist and master of ci in Northern Song Dynasty. He expanded it on the basis of old monastery, upraising hills, excavating ponds, planting flowers and trees, building houses, and transforming it to a garden. He named it "Feng Gu Xing Wo"(凤谷行窝), or literally, "Peripatetic Nest of Phoenix Valley". A lot of ancient plants grew in the garden, and there lied a hummock in hind part. This hummock was uplifted in Zhengtong 10th year(1445) by governor of Jiangnan Zhou Cheng(周忱) in order to alter the geomancy of Huishan Temple. As the garden was founded, Qin Jin wrote a poem "Move to reside in the famed mountain at late age, build an eccentric nest for myself. Winding creeks run around lonesome stones, colossal pine trees foster greenish vines. Gliding birds were seen on the hilltop, few passengers were spotted in the secluded lane. Have a dream in melodious sounds of springs, what a fortune to listen to the fairy jingle. "(名山投老住,卜筑有行窝。曲涧盘幽石,长松育碧萝。峰高看鸟渡,径僻少人过。清梦泉声里,何缘听玉珂。) After the death of Qin Jin, the garden was inherited by his family nephew Qin Han and his son, the treasurer of Jiangxi, Qin Liang. In summer of Jiajing 39th year (1560), Qin Han himself built another garden at the hillside of Huishan, also called "Feng Gu Shan Zhuang"(凤谷山庄), or "Villa of Phoenix Valley".

After the death of Qin Liang, the garden was owned by his nephew, right vice director of court of censors and governor of Huguang, Qin Yao. Qin Yao was a member of Donglin party. In Wanli 19th year (1591), Qin Yao was deprived of positions because his master, Zhang Juzheng was indicted. He returned to Wuxi in a gloomy mood thus resorted to the picturesque garden to buoy himself up. He borrowed a verse from Wang Xizhi,, exactly a poem named Da Xuchuan(答许椽)- "Getting the joy from benevolence and wisdom, and resort to the supremacy of mountains and waters to attain the pleasure."( 取欢仁智乐,寄畅山水荫), and changed the name to Jichang Yuan(寄畅园). In Wanli's years, there are 20 noted scenic spots in the garden, and Qin Yao bestowed poems on each of them.

In the end of Shunzhi and beginning of Kangxi years of Qing Dynasty, Qin Yao's great grandson Qin Dezao(秦德藻) renovated the garden. He invited the famed garden designer Zhang Lian (张涟, whose courtesy name was Nan Yuan) and his nephew Zhang Shi (张轼) to devotedly plan the reconstruction, rearranged hills and waters and dredged springs and piled rockeries. As a result, the sceneries became even more arresting. Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong each came to South China six times in their lifetime, and Jichang Garden was the sine qua non site to stop by every time. This is the heyday of the garden. In the early Yongzheng's years during the intermitted period, however, Qin Dezao's first grandson, Qin Daoran, was implicated into the conflicts of authorities and imprisoned. Consequently, the garden was confiscated and its southwestern corner area was excised to build women's chastity shrine(贞节祠) of Wuxi County. In Qianlong's 1st year, Qin Daoran's 3rd son, Qin Huitian won a third place in palace test, and was recruited to the South Study Room(南书房) of the emperor. The next year, he made an appeal for his father, and Daoran was released and the garden returned. The richest descendant in Qin's family, Qin Dezao's grandson, offspring of his second wife, Qin Ruixi donated silver 3,000 liang. The aged garden was renovated according to the original plan, and the donor's commitment was applauded.

In the 11th reign year of Emperor Qianlong, the family gathered and concluded that "rather being maintained primarily for leisure, the garden should erect a family shrine in order for it to last forever."(惟是园亭究属游观之地,必须建立家祠,始可永垂不朽). Therefore, the "Jiashu Hall"(嘉树堂) in the garden was converted to "Double Filial Affection Shrine"(双孝祠), and Jichang Garden became the property of family shrine, thus also called "Filial Garden"(孝园). In Xinwei year (1751), Emperor Qianlong visited South China for the first time, and designated Jichang Garden as a resting site. He was very impressed by the beauty of the garden, and brought a painting of it back to Beijing. He ordered to build a "Huishan Garden" on northeast side of Longevity Hill in Qingyi Yuan(清漪园). It is now the "Xiequ Yuan" in the Summer Palace. During Xianfeng and Tongzhi years, most buildings in the garden were ruined in the war, and it was renovated to very little extent later. In 1952, the descendants of Qin's family donated this private garden to the government, and it was protectively refurbished since then. The original chastity shrine was incorporated back into the garden and now became a group of small pavilions called "Bingli Hall"(秉礼堂). Other buildings, such as "Jiu Long Tu Shi", "Jiashu Tang", "Mei Pavilion", and "Ling Fan House", were also rebuilt.

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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