Predecessor of Imperial Garden – Youpu (Garden for Planting and Feeding Animals) and Palace Garden

  • offcial website of Beijing Expo 2019  2017-Sep-14 11:32:08

From the Shang Dynasty to the Warring States Period

The Shang Dynasty and Western Zhou Dynasty were typical slave-owner’s states. Kings, vassals and scholars and officialdom were all noblemen. Their gardens can be referred to as noble garden which is the primary form of Chinese imperial garden. The earliest noble place gardens which can be referred to in archives during this period are Sand Dune Platform of King Zhou of Shang and Spiritual Garden, Spiritual Platform and Spiritual Pond of King Wen of Zhou. In the times of King Wen of Zhou which was powerful and prosperous (11th Century B.C.), Spiritual Garden, Spiritual Platform and Spiritual Pond constituted a considerable large-scale noble garden as a whole.

Qin and Han Dynasties

The First Emperor of Qin accomplished the great cause of unifying China, established the centralized Qin Dynasty, and began to build a series of “palaces” and “gardens”, from which the real imperial gardens began to overflow and unprecedented imperial gardens began to appear. The First Emperor of Qin built more than 300 large and small “palaces” and “gardens”. Besides original Xianyang Palace, Epang Palace in the Shanglin Imperial Garden can be considered as the most famous. Shanglin Imperial Garden of the Qin Dynasty, where the emperor often rode and hunted, had a very large area. Hundreds of square miles south of the Wei River in Xianyang were within the scope of Shanglin Imperial Garden. Shanglin Imperial Garden with the subordinate Epang Palace became the largest imperial garden at that time.

During the two Han dynasties, palace gardens represented by Shanglin Imperial Garden, Weiyang Palace, Jianzhang Palace, Changle Palace (literally "palace of eternal happiness") and Ganquan Palace showed different forms and styles of imperial garden of the Han dynasty.

Palace gardens of the Qin and Han dynasties had a far-reaching impact on imperial garden making of later ages. Palace gardens of the Qin and Han dynasties were mainly divided into two categories including “palace” and “garden”. Themed with palatial building groups, with mountains, pools, flowers and trees weaving through it, “palace” highlighted the integration of “palace” and “garden” in general layout. This kind of imperial gardens was mostly built in the capital city or the suburbs. Characterized by large scale and area, such “garden” was to scatter a great amount of palatial building groups around the natural environment with mountains and rivers which are abundant and moist and luxuriant vegetation.

It had spanned about 1,200 years from production to development of gardens of the Pre-Qin Period and two Han dynasties. In the Qin and Han dynasties, emperors were the main participants of garden making. Only three were privately-built gardens; by the time of the Eastern Han Dynasty, private gardens, which can be referred to in archives, increased gradually. We can see the specific representation of garden landscapes on some painting rocks and painting bricks of the Eastern Han Dynasty which were handed down and excavated. By the time of the Wei, Jin, and South and North dynasties, imperial garden inherited and developed the garden making art of the Qin and Han dynasties in content, but it was far inferior to palace garden of the Qin and Han dynasties in scale.