Yu Yuan: Staging a Family Drama

Shelly Bryant

in The Classical Gardens of Shanghai

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print July 2016 | ISBN: 9789888208814
Published online September 2016 | e-ISBN: 9789888313983 | DOI:
Yu Yuan: Staging a Family Drama

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Built when the development of Jiangnan gardens was at its peak, Yu Yuan is not only the pride of Shanghai, but also one of the finest Ming dynasty gardens remaining anywhere in China. Construction of the garden began in 1559, making it a near contemporary of Suzhou’s Humble Administrator’s, Lingering, and Master-of-the-Nets Gardens, Wuxi’s Jichang Yuan, and Hangzhou’s Liu Zhuang and Jiang Zhuang. This explosion of garden development in the region reflected a social change, the rise of a merchant class who possessed the financial means to imitate the gardens that had been restricted to the aristocracy and literati prior to this time. But Yu Yuan’s builder, Pan Yunduan, had the classical training of a scholar. In fact, his family was known in their time for having two generations of scholars living in one household. Pan’s work in and writings about the garden reflect this background.

Keywords: Gardens; Shanghai; Architecture; Art; Poetry; Politics; Culture

Chapter.  4513 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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