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Blending with Nature, Continued
Classical Chinese Gardens in the Sizhou Style

About Chinese Gardens
Suzhou style classical gardens were born nearly 1,500 years ago when state wars were common and national minorities often came from the North to plunder the cities. The idea of living as a hermit appealed to those who wanted a reprieve from society.

They felt that peace could be found in the life of a sage among forests, mountains, and flowing rivers. Many scholar-officials were intrigued by the way of a hermit but chose to remain where they were in the city. To acquire the best of both worlds, they built gardens were they could find peace amongst the turmoil of city life.

As wealthy scholar-officials of Suzhou amassed great fortunes, they built elaborate private gardens. Although there were more than 250 gardens built over time, only around 30 exist in the city region today.

Highlights of the DVD
The DVD version of Blending With Nature includes a chapter on The Artistic Significance of Classical Chinese Gardens, which explains how Chinese gardens and landscape painting are closely linked. The scholar gardens of Suzhou, like Chinese landscape paintings, are very much a portrait of the owner or artist revealing their knowledge and personal taste. The painter's eye is present in the piling of rocks to create a landscape or laying out the architecture of a garden as well as the placement of tress and plants in a garden. One special feature is the emphasis placed on Taoism as illustrated by Donald Jenkins, who gives a detailed interpretation of a rare hand scroll in Portland, Oregon Art Museum's collection by Shen Zhau, a Ming Dynasty artist, dated 1477.

Additional features of the DVD include historian Kenneth Hammond's explanation of why so many gardens were built in Suzhou during the Ming Dynassty, China scholar Charles Wu's translation and interpretation of inscriptions found int he gardens, a philosophy chapter with additional discussion of Taoism, Australian botanist Peter Valder explains the symbolism of plants and trees, and Princeton University Chinese art historian Jerome Silbergeld's analysis of rockery and garden design. Throughout the bonus chapters, Xu Xian from Suzhou offers insight and shares interesting stories. The final chapter is a walk through Suzhou's Lingering Garden, a World Cultural Heritage site, without commentary, which is added for instructional use. The purpose being, students could view and reflect on design concepts, symbolism, philosophy and artistic and aesthetic patterns found in this Classical Chinese Garden.

The Blending With Nature film is part of this DVD, which has been purchased by many college and university faculty or their libraries. Inclusion of these chapters enables us to show additional footage, which further explains the intricacies of Suzhou's gardens. The DVD chapters and questions add 65 minutes to the 53-minute film, making it a more useful instructional tool.

Resources
College of DuPage Home
www.cod.edu

Northwest China Council
www.nwchina.org

The Iconography of Gardens: Stories and Symbols
http://www.csupomona.edu/~ige/gardens/1h1.htm

The Chinese Scholar's Garden
www.chinesegardennyc.com

The Seattle Chinese Garden
www.seattle-chinese-garden.org

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