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Home Hangzhou Attractions Ten Classic Views of West Lake Pinghu Qiuyue

Pinghu Qiuyue (Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake) Introduction


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Pinghu Qiuyue(平湖秋月, Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake) boasting one of top ten classic scenes of West Lake Scenic Area, is located on the west point of Bai Causeway and at the southern foot of the Solitary Hill and close to the exterior part of West Lake. Leaning on the fence of lakeside and climbing up to the tower to appreciate the beauty of Autumn Moon, visitors could see in heart the vastness of West Lake and purify the uneasiness and anxiety of heart. Under such circumstances, visitors can see the real charm of West Lake. The West Lake is a huge tri-dimensional landscape with the reputation of beauty in downtown and visitors in painting. No matter which corner visitors stand on, they also easily appreciate an elegant scroll of Jiangnan Landscape painted in Chinese pomo(泼墨, a type of technique in a free and unlimited Chinese ink) painting style. In different dynasties, the poems and prose themed with this classic scene are diverse, and the related melodies or some music sharing the same name with this scene are widespread across China.

Anciently, there used to be a tower, or Tower of Qin, located on the lakeside of exterior part of West Lake. It was the popular place for scholars, romanticists and talented artists to hold gatherings and compose works. Originally, this tower called Shuiming Tower (Water-Clear Tower) built in Tang Dynasty, and subsequently renamed as Wanghu Tower (Enjoying-Lake Tower) as the former name was hard to be uttered. Up to Southern Song Dynasty, it was renamed to be Wangyue Tower (Enjoying Moon Tower) as the construction of Taoist Temple of Sishengyanxiang, an imperial Taoist temple located on Solitary Hill. Lake and Moon were both used for its name, and it underlies the finalization of name of Pinghu Qiuyue, in which the moon and lake are both included. In Ming Dynasty, Eunuch Sun Long paid a lot to restore the Wanghu Pavilion. In some records, there are some narrations. Tower of Qin originally named Shuiming Tower was built by Su Dongpo, who used to visit here with one of his concubines named Zhao Yun, besides, there were three poems written by Su Dongpo on wall. Nearby Tower of Qin, it was Jinghu Tower, which was said to be built by Bai Juyi and used to be the best place of talented local officials and scholars to have literary and classic gathering.

As one of top classic scenes of West Lake, the view of Pinghu Qiuyue did not own the fixed place in Southern Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties. Especially in Ming Dynasty, the scholars composed and recited poems and prose themed with boating at moon night on dream-like lake, the places where they appreciated the scene were different. Taking the wooden painting of Top Ten West Lake Scenes, the famous woodcut print (a wood-carved painting) of Ming Dynasty, as an example, the body of the entire painting is still centered on the sight that visitors appreciate the moon in sightseeing boat on West Lake. This is an interesting topic; in other words, traditionally this scene was floating and uncertain, absolutely different from today’s fixed scene of Pinghu Qiuyue.

Today’s site of Pinghu Qiuyue was settled during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in Qing Dynasty. At the time, the local government according to the suggestions of superior governors changed the former Hall of Dragon King to be the Tower of Imperial Study, and a stone platform was specially paved in front of the tower. The platform surrounded with fences, and nearby the platform, there was a pavilion, in which the imperial inscription of Pinghu Qiuyue, four Chinese Characters on a large scale, was preserved. In fact, the scene of Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake is the smallest one among ten scenes. But its showing area is the largest. The surrounding hills and floating waves and clouds, plus the silvery moonlight spreading on the lake as well as the residents’ family lights composed a great traditional painting with typical Chinese classic poetic imagery. It was naturally welcomed in mind by scholars and elegant men and women, no exception to Emperor Kangxi, a skillful man of Qing Dynasty.

After the foundation of new China, this area was redesigned, rebuilt and extended and came into being a narrow and long lakeside gardens, different-season flowers and plants were planted among the rockeries. The traditional platforms, pavilions, halls and towers were built elaborately aesthetically. It is the perfect place to appreciate the moon, taste the tea and have leisure time. It is the great place to see the ideal and heavenly landscape that illustrated in literary works. The traditional beauty mixed with the poetic imagery always indulged many people into spiritual pleasure. Anytime, people can feel its charm, aside from the time of autumn. There is a famous couplet created by Luo Chengxiang(骆成骧) of Qing Dynasty can show this meaning:

穿牖而来夏日清风冬日日- The comers through window are the cool wind of the summer and the sun of the winter
卷帘相见前山明月后山山- The invitees via curtain are the bright moon of the front hills and the hill of the rear hills

On the slight west side of the scene, it is the Tower of Hutianyibi(湖天一碧楼), or Tower of Lake and Sky in Green, which originally was the remainder of Luo Yuan(Luo Gardens), a private villa of Ha Tong(哈同) who was a Jewish rich businessman and adventurer in the period of late Qing Dynasty and early Republic of China. Subsequently, it became the cradle of Chinese modern art, especially the center of woodcarving, and at the time it was called Ba Yi She or (Eight Skills Society, 八艺社). Today, it is the Xiling Calligraphy and Painting Institute(西泠书画院),which adds lots of humanity to the beauty of West Lake. Xiling Calligraphy and Painting Institute formed in the late 1970s and gathered multiple renowned experts of calligraphy, painting and sealing. An extraordinary history it has owned, and it also shows the unique enchantment in the aspect of succeeding the traditional culture. In the circle of Chinese art, it is attractive undoubtedly. It all the time maintains the target of succeeding and developing Chinese traditional art of calligraphy and painting, as well as pursuing the multiplicity of art and activating the creativity and intercommunication at home and abroad.

The Scene of Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake in Beijing

Due to the great reputation of Pinghu Qiuyue across the country, for moving or copying the classic beauty of West Lake in Beijing, in 1728, another new scene sharing the same name and landscape appeared on northern side of Fuhai in Yuanmingyuan Garden of Beijing. There used to also a large pavilion near to Five-Hole Bridge. In pavilion, a tablet with four characters ”两峰插云”, which also one of the classic scenes of Hangzhou West Lake.

The Music Named Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake

Originally, the music named Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake is the old composition, but we can not enjoy it any more as it vanished away. The current music sharing the same name was a masterpiece of Lv Wencheng(吕文成), a Cantonese musician. This music is also named Zui Tai Ping(醉太平, Drunk in Peace), and someone also thinks it originates from the famous music played in stringed instrument and wind instrument, but lately it is widely spreading in Canton. In 1930s, Lv Wencheng visited West Lake around Mid-Autumn Festival. He enchanted himself in the beauty of the West Lake, and he created a musical work themed with portraying the moon-night view of West Lake and eulogizing the wonderful scene of the nature. Gradually, it became famous and welcome. It is an excellent work of lyric music with pleasing, inspiring and fancy rhythm. In this classic music, listeners can imagine a romantic scene that the West Lake is a fairyland under the moonlight decorated with the silvery lake, elegant trees, pavilions, towers, pagodas and halls. The music shows a poetic imagery and also expresses the affection of the creator to nature and life. It is a perfect Chinese-style orchestral symphony played absolutely by Chinese music instruments like flutes, Dong Xiao, Gao Hu, Yangqin, Gu Zheng, Erhu, Pipa and also mixed with the melody from piano. It is a mixture of tradition and modernity and deserves listening.

More to Read - Lv Wencheng & West Lake Music - Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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