- Sep 2020
The Chinese garden underwent a significant period of development during the Six Dynasties. In addition to the continuation of the imperial park, the private garden (in the form of either a retreat in a sizable country estate or a scholar’s small garden attached to a residence) and the garden that was part of a Buddhist or a Daoist temple also greatly flourished in this period. The scholar’s garden, which developed from the Eastern Jin period onward, was particularly significant as its aesthetics influenced both the imperial and the temple gardens. The art of garden design and construction became increasingly sophisticated. And the functions of the garden went through some significant changes as well. The Six Dynasties period was indeed important in the history of the Chinese garden because it witnessed a number of developments that remained conventional throughout the subsequent imperial dynasties. Let us now turn to the most important developments in the garden during the Six Dynasties that bear special relevance to the topic of this chapter.
The Chinese view of nature and its aesthetics have been influenced by a culture of distinctive spiritual and philosophical currents such as Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. The traditional Chinese landscape and the conceptions of the garden are a compilation of successive dynasties, social models, architecture, and techniques with also an understanding of the beauty of nature and the ability to symbolize it.
The triad of human beings, earth, and heaven is part of nature. A continuous cosmos of universal, dynamic, self-creative, spontaneous, and unpredictable order, The Dao. The basic and most pure expression of a patterned and harmonious act of nature.
In The Six Dynasties period, the motivations of garden creation were drawn by a spirit of evocation, the search, and capture of “essence” and “spirit resonance” of nature. Where the function of gardens pursues an aesthetic of contemplation and enjoyment, where people gather together in a representational scenario of nature.
Zhou (1999) talks about the Chinese thinking of "nature and principle of man and things" and how the conception of a unitary cosmos and the understanding of selves and parts acting by patterns is the strongest driving force that shaped the Chinese tradition in terms of ethics, politics, religion but also architecture and landscape form. What shaped the Chinese landscape was the integration of the object's understanding in terms of opposition, integration, harmony, and relationships.
Zhou, Weiquan (1999). Chinese classical landscape history. Beijing. Qing-Hua University Publishing.