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Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty


Huanxiu Mountain Villa (环秀山庄, Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty), located on Jingde Road in today’s China Suzhou Embroidery Art Museum, has an area of 3 mu (a traditional unit equates 0.0667 hectares). It is the important cultural site under the provincial protection, and under the state’s protection in 1988. In 1997, it was inscribed into the list of World Cultural Heritage Sites by UNESCO. It is a typical garden built in Qing Dynasty.

This garden was a Buddhist temple housed by the rooms donated by Wang Xun(王旬) and Wang Min (王珉) in Jin Dynasty. In Wuyue Kingdom, it was Jingu Garden (金谷园, Gold Valley Garden) owned by Qian Yuanliao(钱元璙), a son of Qian Liao(钱鏐), who was the founder of Wuyue Kingdom. And then, it was the private garden of Zhu Changwen(朱长文, 1039-1098, a famous litterateur and calligrapher of Song Dynasty, and the representative work was History of Qin). In his ownership, this garden was named Yue Pu in accordance with his alternative name. It was built on the original site of Jingu Garden, and reconstructed for many times. Since the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795) in Qing Dynasty, it used to be the family zone of Jiang Ji, Bi Ruan and Sun Shiyi. In 1847, it became an extension of Wang Family’s Memorial Temple, and it was named finally as Huanxiu Mountain Villa.

The View of Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty in Suzhou

The mountain villa covers an area of 0.2 hectare, with houses built in front of a garden. Rockeries and the pond in which they are displayed form the centerpiece of the entire garden. To the west of the pond there are the side chamber and a corridor. The rockwork was created in 1807 by Ge Yuliang(戈裕良, 1764 -1827), an expert of artificial mountains. It is the most outstanding agglomeration of rocks among all the gardens in Suzhou.

The rockwork covers 0.03 hectare of land and rises six meters above the ground and seven meters above the water surface. Though small, the rocky hill has a maze of paths, caves, running streams, stone chambers, secluded ravines, and surging peaks. Perfectly blending with the scenes in the entire garden, it imparts a wonderland to evoke memory of a masterpiece of traditional Chinese landscape painting.

Reference & Cultural Extension

What is Jingu?- Jingu, located in Luoyang, originally was the private and deluxe garden built by Shi Chong (石崇), a quite renowned and legendary rich man in East Jin Dynasty. For showing off his larger treasure than Wang Kai (王恺), he built Jingu Garden decorated and facilitated with the deluxe furnishings, and this garden was more luxurious than the palace. In the garden, Shi Chong led an over-luxurious, crucial and lechery life. He also invited many litterateurs and artists to enjoy banquets and beauties over here, and many themed poems and essays left. The most famous related essays include:

(1) Shi Chong’s Poetic Preface in Jingu Garden (金谷诗序)
(余以元康六年,从太仆卿出为使持节监青、徐诸军事、征虏将军。有别庐在河南县界金谷涧中,去城十里,或高或下,有清泉茂林,众果、竹、柏、药草之属,莫不毕备。又有水碓、鱼池、土窟,其为娱目欢心之物备矣。时征西大将军祭酒王诩当还长安,余与众贤共送往涧中,昼夜游宴,屡迁其坐,或登高临下,或列坐水滨。 时琴、瑟、笙、筑,合载车中,道路并作;及住,令与鼓吹递奏。遂各赋诗以叙中怀,或不能者,罚酒三斗。感性命之不永,惧凋落之无期,故具列时人官号、姓 名、年纪,又写诗著后。后之好事者,其览之哉!凡三十人,吴王师、议郎关中侯、始平武功苏绍,字世嗣,年五十,为首。)

(2) Li Bai’s Preface to the Party at the Garden of Peach and Pear Trees at Spring Night(夜宴从弟桃花园序)

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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