Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Place for the Chinese Umrella Holder: The Summer Palace

The "Garden of Nurtured Harmony" or Summer Palace, located about ten miles from Beijing dates back to the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). In 1750 Emperor Qianlong requested designers and landscapers to reproduce the many styles of gardens and palaces found around China to the Summer Palace, and in 1903 a final restoration took place making it China's largest royal park, and a place for royal families to rest and be entertained. Consequently, where royal families were found, so was the umbrella holder, which provided a fancy way for the wealthy a place to store their wet umbrellas.
The 725 acre Palace, situated around Kunming Lake, features pavilions, temples, bridges, ancient Chinese art, over 3,000 structures and many winding paths through the dense landscape and gardens. "Guided by nature" visitors can feel the tranquility and detail given to the gardens layout. Along with magnificent gardens, the Summer Palace presents many halls, such as the Hall of Dispelling Clouds, where birthdays and special occasions were celebrated. It is here that the northern and southern garden styles of China, individually are blended together ideally to create harmony of man and nature.

Today the Summer Palace provides a relaxing getaway for domestic and international tourists, and is ranked one of the most noted and classical gardens of the world.

Compare: In comparison the umbrella holder would have also been found in Prince Gong's Palace, which also housed the royal Prince and the wealthy.

Contrast: Although many other gardens housed halls, palaces and temples the traditional Chinese gardens were not necessarily designed for royalty and the rich. Therefore, the umbrella holder would probably not be found in such common gardens.

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