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A Jesuit Garden in Beijing and Early Modern Chinese Culture

Hui Zou
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Purdue University Press
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  • Book Info
    A Jesuit Garden in Beijing and Early Modern Chinese Culture
    Book Description:

    In this volume, Hui Zou analyzes historical, architectural, visual, literary, and philosophical perspectives on the Western-styled garden that formed part of the great Yuanming Yuan complex in Beijing, constructed during the Qing dynasty. Designed and built in the late eighteenth century by Italian and French Jesuits, the garden described in this book was a wonderland of multistoried buildings, fountains, labyrinths, and geometrical hills. It even included an open-air theater. Through detailed examination of historical literature and representations, Zou analyzes the ways in which the Jesuits accommodated their design within the Chinese cultural context. He shows how an especially important element of their approach was the application of a linear perspective—the “line-method”—to create the jing, the Chinese concept of the bounded bright view of a garden scene. Hui Zou’s book demonstrates how Jesuit metaphysics fused with Chinese cosmology and broadens our understanding of cultural and religious encounters in early Chinese modernity. It presents an intriguing reflection on the interaction between Western metaphysics and the poetical tradition of Chinese culture. The volume will be of interest to scholars and students in a variety of fields, including literature, philosophy, architecture, landscape and urban studies, and East-West comparative cultural studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-176-9
    Subjects: History, Botany & Plant Sciences, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 1-1)
  4. Chapter One A Theoretical and Historical Introduction to the Chinese Garden
    (pp. 2-19)

    In modern-day China, when people hear the termyuanming(literally, round brightness), they probably think of two wonders: one is the bright full moon appearing at the middle of each month; another is the Yuanming Yuan, literally, Garden of Round Brightness, which exists only in their minds. On the night of the eighth full moon, when the moonlight is the brightest of the year, each Chinese family celebrates the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival by remembering its family members who live a great distance away. The memory of the dearest under the round brightness somehow echoes the nostalgia for the lost Yuanming...

  5. Chapter Two The Chinese Garden and the Concept of the Virtue of Round Brightness
    (pp. 20-50)

    If a Qing emperor used an imperial garden as his primary residence, the garden was known as the emperor's garden (yuyuan), which was differentiated from other imperial gardens that he visited only occasionally. In this sense, Kangxi's emperor's garden was the Garden of Uninhibited Spring and for Yongzheng to Qianlong, Jiaqing, Daoguang, and Xianfeng, the emperor's garden was the Yuanming Yuan.

    Before a prince was assigned his own garden by the emperor, he would be assigned a residence in the emperor's garden, and thus the memory of living in his father's garden was closely related to the meaning of living...

  6. Chapter Three The Chinese Garden and the Concept of the Vision of Jing
    (pp. 51-75)

    The vision of Round Brightness, with its cosmological and ethical meanings, was embodied by the multiple scenes of the Yuanming Yuan. The brightness not only diffused along the route of the Forty Scenes (Sishi jing) but also was composed by each scene. One of the principal questions is this: Is the transcendental Round Brightness essentially related to the physical scenes in this garden? To answer the question, a historical analysis of the concept ofjingis necessary. Through focusing on multiple scenes in this garden, we can retrieve the vision of Round Brightness. The meaning ofjingas the unity...

  7. Chapter Four The Chinese Garden and Western Linear Perspective
    (pp. 76-102)

    The Yuanming Yuan integrated the virtue of Round Brightness and the vision ofjing. How was this unity applied to the Western portion of the garden? The fact that the Chinese portion enclosed the Western garden has demonstrated that the Round Brightness acted as the immediate context of this exotic garden. In the Chinese portion, the embodiment of the Round Brightness is the multiplejing, which can be analyzed through their representations. The representation of thejingof the Western garden is a set of twenty copperplates, which were composed with the technique of line method (xianfa), the Chinese translation...

  8. Chapter Five The Chinese Garden and the Concept of the Line Method
    (pp. 103-138)

    The traditional Chinese term for "landscape" isshanshui, which literally means "mountains and waters." The Yuanming Yuan was a magnificent garden of mountains and waters for its extensively artificially made landscapes. The emperor's vision of round brightness was embodied by the multiplejingwhere his mind was brightened while his body meandered in the garden. The zigzag route of the Forty Scenes was a route along which the metaphysical brightness diffused within the garden enclosure. Once he strolled to the northeastern corner, the most remote corner of the garden compound, the winding path changed abruptly into the straight path of...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 139-144)

    Thejingis an aesthetic concept of Chinese garden and landscape construction. The linear perspective was created in the European Renaissance and did not exist in Chinese painting until it was introduced by Jesuits working in Beijing in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The encounter ofjingand the Western linear perspective took place in the Western garden of the Yuanming Yuan. Although the ruins of Yuanming are frequently appropriated for political intentions, ideologies cannot bring to light the beauty of cultural encounters. Chinese intellectuals tend to think the Yuanming Yuan is the most forceful proof of imperialist aggressions and...

  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 145-167)
  11. Appendix
    (pp. 168-184)
  12. Index
    (pp. 185-190)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 191-191)