The Humble Administrator's Garden

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The Humble Administrator's Garden is a renowned Chinese garden in Suzhou. At 51,950 m2, it is the largest garden in Suzhou and is generally considered to be the finest garden in all of southern China. In 1997, Zhuozheng Yuan, along with other classical gardens of Suzhou was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden

The garden contains numerous pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools and islands. It consists of three major parts set about a large lake: the central part (Zhuozheng Yuan), the eastern part (once called Guitianyuanju, Dwelling Upon Return to the Countryside), and a western part (the Supplementary Garden). The house lies in the south of the garden.

The Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden

The garden's site was initially the residence and garden of Lu Guimeng, a Tang Dynasty scholar. Later in the Yuan Dynasty it became monastery garden for the Dahong Temple. In 1513 CE, Wang Xiancheng an Imperial Envoy and poet of the Ming Dynasty appropriated the temple. In 1510, he retired to his native home of Suzhou after a long persecution by the East Imperial Secret Service, and began work on the garden.

The Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden

This garden, meant to express his fine taste, was designed in collaboration with the renowned artist, Suzhou native, and friend, Wen Zhengming. It was as large as today's garden, with numerous trees and pavilions. The garden was named after a verse by Pan Yue's Idler's Prose, "I enjoy a carefree life by planting trees and building my own house...I irrigate my garden and grow vegetables for me to eat...such a life suits a retired official like me well." This verse symbolized Wang's desire to retire from politics and adopt a hermits life in the manner of Tao Yuanming. It took 16 years until 1526 CE to complete. Wen Zhenming wrote an essay Notes of Wang's Humble Administrator's Garden, and painted Landscapes of the Humble Administrator's Garden in 1533 CE to commemorate the garden.

The Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden

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