The Craft of Gardens Book Cover The Craft of Gardens
Ji Cheng
Gardening
Shanghai Press
April 10, 2012
144

 

Ji Cheng's great work on garden design, the Yuan Ye or Craft of Gardens, was originally published around 1631 and is the earliest manual of landscape gardening in the Chinese tradition. This is the first complete English translation of Ji Cheng's seminal work. This delightful book provides not only insights into Chinese gardening but also a unique perspective on Chinese culture and society in the late Ming dynasty. Full notes by the translator explain obscure points and introduce relevant aspects of Chinese culture, while an introduction by Maggie Keswick sets the book firmly in its historical context. Illustrations include not only Ji Cheng's original diagrams but also historical paintings and contemporary photographs of a number of outstanding gardens in the part of East China where Ji Cheng lived and worked.

The Craft of Gardens: The Classic Chinese Text on Garden Design
(Your purchase from this link benefits Japanese Gardening Organization)

 

Translated by Alison Hardie, with a foreword by Maggie Keswick. Photographs by Zhong Ming
Better link press 2012

Although this is not strictly on Japanese Gardens, it is a very interesting book based on Gardening in the Chinese tradition.  I do not feel quite ready to review it, but I thought I would at least share a bit of the text from the book.

From the inside cover:

  • “Ji Cheng’s great work on garden design, the Yuan Ye or Craft of Gardens, was originally published in or around 1631 and is the earliest manual of landscape gardening in the Chinese tradition. This is the first complete English translation of Ji Cheng’s seminal work…”  “This delightful book provides not only insights into Chinese gardening but also a unique perspective on Chinese culture and the late Ming dynasty.”

Page 26 in the section before the forward… A sub section describing Painting and Gardens

  • “Above all he must feel the specific qualities of his own site and follow where it leads him. Thus Ji Cheng teaches general principles by suggestion rather than by rule, encouraging the reader, through evocative descriptions, to release his own creative imagination.”
  • “Naturally, success in this is not for everyone: “the exceptional takes effort and deep understanding,” and even then (most practically), “after the inspiration of genius, completion depends on the labor of man.” Nevertheless, Ji Cheng is encouraging, for he believes that when “you have the real thing within you … it will become real,” and that his reader will “know when it is right when it moves [him].” And this, perhaps, is the key; for within its own small space a garden must make possible a whole range of emotions that otherwise could be felt only in nature. Thus the garden designer strives to heighten his effects by contrast and juxtaposition-high leading to low, open to closed, narrow to wide, light to dark-in a constant, delicate pairing, on an infinity of levels, that echoes the elemental force of the yin and yang. In practice the designer manages so to confuse the visitor about how he came in, where he is and how he is to get out, and at the same time so to delight and lull his senses, that the space of his little garden seems to extend indefinitely. “

Purchase (Your Amazon purchase from this link benefits Japanese Gardening Organization):

The Craft of Gardens: The Classic Chinese Text on Garden Design

 

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