Arts and Culture
Traditional Chinese culture holds a worldview advocating union between human and nature. Laozi once said “Dao takes its law from Nature.” Nature here indicates a rhythm and law acting upon one another, at the core of which is changes and movements. Accordingly,
in designing Chinese gardens, such ideas are manifested in an aesthetic principle of “varied scenery of four seasons, manifold charm of all weathers”. Different from Western gardens, which emphasizes an anthropocentric attitude on how to modify the natural, in all details classical Chinese gardens bespeak ideas of a man-nature unity. By observing and experiencing the “way” of nature, Chinese recreate a natural environment that blends in man’s existence. They are different also from Japanese gardens, influenced by Shinto, which embody worship of nature, in which Nature is out there as a model for man to meditate.
Chinese landscaped gardens, particularly the gardens of the Ming and Qing dynasties produced landscapes into which you can fuse yourself. They were designed to wrap around ponds or other water features, so that visitors
could find delight in wandering around the garden, as if wandering around nature. Architecture is part of the scenery, fusing natural and man-made creations, as the use of scholar rocks surrounding the buildings, or the use of stones to create steps into buildings or courtyards. The concept of the “mountain forest in the city” was particularly prominent in the gardens of the Ming and Qing dynasties, which fused the natural and artificial on a broader scope.