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 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.”
Guess who’s lake is bigger??
That big stick is the tallest bamboo tree in China.
It’s also dead. But it’s also really tall.
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.
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.
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.
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.