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Guyi Garden (古漪園)

发表于 3/23/2016 07:56:09 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
About 20 kilometers away, northwest of Shanghai, there lies a very small town called Nanxiang (南翔, meaning “Flying-South”), famous for its juicy mantou (steamed, with a minced meat pellet wrapped in thin flour skin).  This old small town has a beautiful ancient garden----Guqi Garden.  It was originally build in Ming Dynasty, between 1522—1566 AD, during the reign of Emperor Jiajing (嘉靖), bearing the name of Yi Garden (猗園).  But in Qing Dynasty, in 1746, the eleventh year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong (乾隆), it was repaired and then renamed Guyi Garden (古漪園).
        The garden is so arranged, with the Playing Goose Pond (戲鵝池) as its center, the White Stork Arbor (白鶴亭) to the west, the Stone Boat (石舫) to the north and the Floating Bamboo Pavilion (浮筠閣) to the south.  According to a legend, in Liang Dynasty, between 502—577 AD, a big white stone, about three meters long, was accidentally unearthed and then two white storks were often seen flying down to have a respite on top of the stone.  Many years later, a monk by the name of Deqi (德齊) came by and saw them, thinking that it was a good place to build a temple on since white storks rested on the white stone.  Therefore, a temple was built in the neighborhood, and soon afterwards, the white storks flew south and never came back again.  So the temple was named “White-Stork-Flying-South” Temple (白鶴南翔寺) in memory of the two storks.  Later around the temple a small town grew.  Hence, it bore the name of the “Flying-South” Town.  In Ming Dynasty, together with the garden, an arbor was set up where the storks were said once rested, which was then given the name of “White Stork Arbor”.
        From the arbor a small footpath leads northeast to the Stone Boat, also build in Ming Dynasty.  In the cabin hangs a wooden plateau (匾額) high up on the wall opposite to the door, on which are inscribed three Chinese characters: “Non-Tied Boat” (不系舟).  These characters were taken from an article by Chuancius (莊子), an ancient essayist and philosopher in Zhou Dynasty.  This plateau was put up after 1949, the original one being lost during the Anti-Japanese War and to the disappointment of visitors, because the original three Chinese characters were written by the prominent calligrapher Zhu Zhishan (祝枝山) of Ming Dynasty.  Above the cabin is a small pavilion used as a study by the original owner.
        There across another pond, to the west of the White Stork Arbor, stands a pavilion known as Hermitage Pavilion (逸野堂), with windows all around and some beautifully carved furniture in it, and also with two trees in front and two at one side----a rare variety of ash-tree (Var Pendula Loud 盤槐樹)----which was said could only be grown in the palace of the emperor.  If any was found planted in the garden of anyone----no matter whether courtiers of the highest rank or people of the lowest class, he would be put to death on the accusation that he had the intention to become the emperor himself----the greatest crime of treason and revolt.  So the original owner of the garden was beheaded on account of the trees.
        A little south from Hermitage Pavilion is another pavilion called “Flying-Kite-and-Jumping-Fish” Pavilion (鳶飛魚躍軒), built also in Ming Dynasty.  Originally it was a straw-thatched hut facing a small pool and sitting in it one could see kites flying above and fish jumping below; hence came the name.  But the present pavilion was rebuilt in 1974.
        South to Floating Bamboo Pavilion, up on the small “Bamboo-Branch” Mound (竹枝山), stands an arbor, “One-corner-Lacking” Arbor (缺角亭), built in 1931, after the 9.18 (September 18th) Event, with the lacking corner of the roof pointing to the northeast to remind people of the event and the other three corners raised up like high-raised arms and clenched fists to symbolize the people’s will of resistence.
        Further south, over a little bigger pond spans a zigzagged bridge with an arbor on it in the middle that visitors can sit in it and get a view of the beautiful surroundings.
        East to One-Corner-Lacking Arbor, another pavilion can be seen with the name of “Plum-Blossom” Pavilion (梅花廳), built in Qing Dynasty, but now serves as a shop selling works of arts.  Before and behind it some plum trees still burst into bloom with the season, and in the south of the garden one can still see the peony grown a little before the reign of Empress Dowager (西太后), perhaps, when she was only a royal concubine.
        There are two octagonal stone columns about three meters tall, shaped somewhat like pagodas, one in the northeastern part of the garden and the other to the west of One-corner-Lacking Arbor.  The work of building them began in 867 AD and ended in 875 AD in Tang Dynasty, eight years it took, and known as Sutra Column of Tang Dynasty (唐經幢).  They were repaired in 980 AD in Song Dynasty.  The one in the northeastern part has only four Buddhas inscribed on it, but on the other, besides four Buddhas, there are characters of Sutra carved on it, which was re-inscribed in Yuan Dynasty, in 1333 AD.  However, in 1790 AD, the 54th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty, it was brought down by typhoon and in 1800, the fifth year of reign of Emperor Jiaqing (嘉慶, son of Emperor Qianlong), it was re-set up with four Buddhas and the Sutra inscribed on it again.  Both columns were removed here in 1959 from the ruins of the Hovering-Cloud Temple (雲翔寺).
        East of Plum-blossom Pavilion, standing in the water of the Lotus Pond (蓮池) is a column-like pagoda, about two meters high above the water surface, built in 1222 AD in Song Dynasty, which is called Common Pagoda (普同塔).  There are two kinds of pagodas: one has many storeys and people can go in and climb up one storey after another to have a long view from its windows, and the other is just a stone pillar to hold inside it an urn containing a monk’s ashes or with Buddhas or Sutra engraved on its sides.  Common Pagoda belongs to the latter sort.
        In the garden there are a few artificial grottoes, and also other pavilions, such as South Pavilion (南廳), Stork-Longevity Pavilion (鶴壽軒), Moon-Portraying Pavilion (繪月軒) and Faint-Sound Pavilion (微音閣), which is now a shop selling sweets, drinks and ice-cream, etc.  Before 1949, the garden with all its buildings was seriously damaged and so after 1949 it was repaired several times.  Just inside the front gate a brick wall about five meters wide and two meters high shuts out the view of the garden and visitors must get round it to have a full sight.  The wall has a relief on it.  There are also a tea room and a canteen in which one can enjoy the famous delicious mantou.  In the eastern corner two white storks are resting there, returning from the south after so many years of absence, maybe not the same pair, who can tell.  Storks are said to be the symbol of longevity.  May those who take photos with the two storks there enjoy health and longevity!
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