Guyi Garden, Nanxiang Old Street and Yunxiang Temple

Tuesday I did a day trip with the Shanghai Expats Association to the places you see above. Another great trip as you shall see.

Guyi Garden is one of 5 great old gardens in Shanghai, started during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and added onto numerous times ever since. Two lions guarded the gate to the garden. Lions symbolize power and they always come in pairs, a male and a female. The female will always be on the right (as you are leaving) and the male is on the left.

This is the female lion-she is holding the baby lion.

This is the male. He is holding a ball or pearl which symbolizes wisdom and power.

The carved stone wall before you really, really get into the garden

A pretty spot at the front of the garden

This garden was all about bamboo. There are 900 varieties of bamboo. Who knew? I didn’t.

For the man who built this garden, bamboo symbolized humility. It is the hollow trunk of bamboo that reminds the Chinese of humility. One artist said, “Bamboo, who understands humility by emptying his heart, (without stuffing it with arrogance) is my teacher.”

This is a fragrant flowering tree that is very special because the Chinese also make wine from the flowers!

Here's Anneliese demonstrating the stone horse

Another one of those zig zag bridges to keep the evil spirits away. This one has a twist though.

On one side is the wife's lake

On the other is the husband's lake

Guess who’s lake is bigger??

Looking back after crossing the bridge you see this. You should be impressed.

That big stick is the tallest bamboo tree in China.

It’s also dead. But it’s also really tall.

This pavilion's roof has 9 dragons playing ball to symbolize luck. They each have 3 fingers because only the Emperor's dragons could have 4.


One of the corner pieces of the same pavilion.

The man who built this part of the garden was very patriotic. As you can see this corner piece looks like a fist. There are only 3 fists on this pavilion, the 4th missing. He did this intentionally as this was a special pavilion built during the years of the first Chinese Japanese war. The missing corner was intended to remind visitors that a part of China’s territory was then under Japanese occupation.

A big lotus pond in the distance.

It's hard to get an idea of the magnitude of these lotus leaves-some are more than 2 feet across

A stand of bamboo that looks like the bamboo I'm familiar with

These ladies were singing in one of the pavilions. They were really good.

I'm always a sucker for flowers

The window on the pavilion where the ladies were singing. You can see them at the bottom.

This came out rather artsy didn't it? It's the corner piece of the pavilion the women were singing in

Can you find it? It's a mugua or papaya growing on a tree.

This scary fish dragon protects the building it graces. It's whiskers also serve a practical purpose--they act as lightening rods!

This is a Dragon Tree and it has a very interesting story

Dragon trees are very special. Their leaves look like dragon scales and they are associated with the phoenix which regenerates itself after a fire. Dragons also represent immortality. So these trees would be planted by the front door of homes for good luck.

However, the person who planted this garden had the audacity to plant two trees on each side of his entrance, just as the Emperor had done. Well, the Emperor got wind of it, and guess what happened?  Yup, one of the trees got the ax. So now the garden has one 400 year old Dragon tree (above) and one 100 year old Dragon tree that they planted when Emperors were no more, to show what the garden was originally like before the Emperor got all huffy.

As it turns out, these are the only Dragon trees in Shanghai, because I guess they were just too closely associated with the Emperor and they were all cut down and haven’t been replanted.

Musical instruments: what Jennie called a piano in front and a guitar in the back

This, incredibly, is made out of individual pieces of colored paper. Really. It's not painted.

This man is one of the few people who still does traditional indigo dying

Stencils are put onto white fabric and a soy based concoction is rubbed into the holes

The fabric is dyed and then he painstakingly rubs the thick soy goop off.

And he gets intricately dyed fabric!

Many lanterns were hung along covered "hallways". They were covered to protect visitors from the rain.

Originally, little stories would hang from each lantern. They would have riddles for the guests to figure out and they were meant to be entertainment, to give them something to do while they were visiting the garden.

Big bird in the garden

This is an example of modern Chinese folk art

Walking over this symbol is supposed to give you good luck. Hoping for good luck, we all did it!

Another kind of bamboo. It's leaves turn white and it is planted as a remembrance of people who have died.

This turtle represents longevity

This pavilion was at the highest point of the garden because it was built with all the dirt that was removed from making the lakes. Hence the name, Turtle Mountain.

This post is getting quite long, so I think I will break it into two and tell you about the rest of the day in another post. There you will get to hear about giant buddhas, scary warriors and food-lots of food.

Stay tuned.


About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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2 Responses to Guyi Garden, Nanxiang Old Street and Yunxiang Temple

  1. news says:

    Have you considered adding a few social bookmarking links to these sites. At the very least for twitter.

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