was first built in the 38th year of Emperor Jiajing in Ming Dynasty,
precisely 462 year ago.
It was built by a renowned garden designer of Ming Dynasty named Zhang Nanyang,
the garden is grand and breath-taking,
literatus in history have deemed it “the best view in the southeast of China”
“best garden in Southeast China”.
I’m Director of The management of Shanghai Yu Garden, Zang Ling.
I would like to introduce you to
a classic garden located in Shanghai’s old town – Yu Garden.
Now, let’s step in.
See the Path of Gardening in Detail
This is San Sui Hall,
look up and you can see a plaque that reads “Cheng Shi Shan Lin”,
it conveys the owner’s wit in staying hidden in the crowded towns
and traveling back to nature.
San Sui Hall is one of Yu Garden’s main building,
dignified and sturdy.
In Qing Dynasty,
this is where local authorities celebrated
imperial edicts were read,
and local gents and poets would come for gatherings.
As we step to Yang Shan Hall and push open the gate,
you can see odd-shaped rockeries and tranquil ponds .
With 14 meters in height difference,
you can take in all of Huangpu River’s boats and sights in your eyes.
Looking up today,
it is still a“majestic mountain”in the mind of countless people.
The Huge Rockery pack nature’s steep twists and turns in condensed form,
and show our ancestors’ longing for mountains and rivers.
The corridor towards Yu Hua Hall,
has a winding and round-about beauty to it.
This corridor is built on bodies of water,
connecting all the sights and architecture,
the distance is conspicuously short,
the winding turns added to the depth of the view,
it seeks to deliver the eastern aesthetic of “hidden curves in a straight line”.
Symbol of Justice in History
Stones and flowers carry our thoughts.
Inside Wan Hua Tower,
flowers still bloom and old trees stay green.
This ancient gingko tree that is as old as Yu Garden,
stood witness to vicissitudes that took place in Yu Garden.
In four hundred years of history,
Yu Garden has undergone decline,
changing hands and destruction from war,
it lived alongside Shanghai through its ups and downs,
renovated and switched owners multiple times.
Every renovation is tied with Shanghai’s development,
and the social function of different historic periods.
In Qing Dynasty,
as Shanghai’s industrial development took off,
Yu Garden became offices for various associations and work unions,
and the birthland of Shanghai modern commercial development and Shanghai style Culture.
Right in front of us is Cang Shu Tower,
in 1909, Yu Garden Calligraphy and Painting Charity was founded here,
it attracted renowned artists such as Qian Hui’an, Wang Zhen and Wu Changshuo.
They gathered here regularly to discuss art and exchange views,
formed a combination of Chinese and western,
inclusive, refined and popular, vibrant painting style,
which ultimately led to the rise of Shanghai style calligraphy and painting.
The Charity contains the meaning of philanthropy,
handed out rice in winter and medicines in summer,
incorporating social responsibilities of “lifting the poor” into their art,
and marked their presence in Shanghai’s painting history.
Strength of Culture and Gardens, Redefined
Fast forward to the present day,
when you look at Shanghai from Yu Garden,
the city has turned into a neon-lit metropolis.
But if you look at Yu Garden from Shanghai,
Yu Garden doesn’t look that different at all,
this will always be where Shanghai looks back in time.
The path of Yu Garden, is Shanghai’s path,
and the path of many who lived here.
Artists and calligraphers
sought to translate
their infatuation for Yu Garden and persistence in art into masterpiece,
left over 2,000 artworks we preserved today.
Kunqu artists sung songs of social destiny and personal strife,
the notes still surround the columns of this Ancient Stage,
at times strong, and at times tender.
Gardening design masters like Chen Congzhou
made it their life mission to renovate Yu Garden.
through collaborating with artisans and literatus,
they built a dream garden that
served its conventional functions while capturing the essence of garden style
blending with the times again and again.
measured every inch of Yu Garden with their steady step
and listened to every demand of the Garden
in order to present Yu Garden in its most complete and stunning form.
Yu Garden is the cultural heritage of generations
who protected and guarded it before us.
It belongs to the past, to the present, as well as to the future.
It has Chinese traditional culture woven into its fabric,
and yet, it maintains open and inclusive,
lives and breathes with the people, and the world.
Dear friends, welcome to Shanghai Yu Garden,
here you can appreciate sceneries of garden in south of Yangtze River,
ponder on philosophies of “Cheng Shi Shan Lin”,
and listen to the stories of Yu Garden.