2008 – 2009 Season
Chinese Gardens in North America
September 6, 2008
While we all take pride in the Portland city block garden poetically named the Garden of the Awakening Orchid, one cannot help wondering about other Chinese gardens in the US and Canada. How do they compare? We are fortunate that during our summer hiatus, Jan Vreeland, a senior docent, visited the recently opened Chinese Garden (phase 1), which is being constructed at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino, CA. Jan has arranged a series of striking photographs of that garden and others, along with his thoughtful insights.
Essence of the Classical Chinese Scholar-Official’s Garden
October 4, 2008
It is instructive to periodically refocus on the literati or scholar’s gardens which became prominent in Suzhou and from which or Lansuyuan is modeled. To accomplish what uniquely sets apart such scholar’s gardens from other gardens, Chinese or otherwise, Professor Greenwood provides an introduction in the construction of such gardens. In addition, he touches upon the aesthetic principles employed in the design of scholar gardens.
The Saga and Art of Chinese Tea
November 1, 2008
“A Mountain Out Your Doorway”
December 6, 2008
We all understand that architecture serves as a skeletal framework for a Chinese scholar’s garden. An architect and longtime docent of the Garden, Ken Diener offers his personal architectural journey to suggest how architecture helps shape our individual and collective aesthetic in subtle ways. Ken further uses our Garden’s architecture for some thoughtful insights into the scholar and the mountain beyond his doorway.
The Art of Han China and Its Influence on Chinese Gardens (no video available)
January 3, 2009
Chinese New Year Brunch : Welcoming the Year of the Ox 牛 (no video available)
February 7, 2009
The Literati Studio: Perspectives, Insights, Implements, and Connoisseurship
March 7, 2009
Curator Emeritus of Asian Art at the Portland Art Museum and past president of the Classical Chinese Garden Society (the founding organization that initiated the garden design with Suzhou), Donald Jenkins discusses the unique ideals of the Chinese Scholar during the Ming and early Qing periods, what items they valued and used, and other accoutrements which they collected in their private studies. Some insights on these prized implements offer a richer appreciation of the Chinese Scholar.
Ladder of the Clouds: The Hierarchical “Civil Service” Examinations
April 4, 2009
We know that in the Ming Dynasty, becoming a recognized scholar in China brought prestige, position, and wealth, not only to the individual, but to his entire family. The question that frequently arises is how did one become a scholar and member of the illustrious literati class? Gareth Mark details the examination process, beginning with the strenuous preparations at an early age. He explains the four Great Books, the five Classics, and the eight-legged essay to illustrate the intense memorization and the remarkable discipline required. Mark also details the examination ladder, beginning with the district exams to the qualifying exams, provincial exams, and finally the metropolitan exams. The sparse exam cells and the exam questions offer further insights into the rigor of the venerated Chinese scholar.
Strategizing and Strengthening Our Interpretive Skills with a Visit to the Portland Japanese Garden (no video available)
May 2, 2009
“Crouching Tiger – Coiling Dragon:” Nanjing, Secondary Capital During the Ming
June 6, 2009
Professor Ina Asim scrutinizes two surviving Ming gardens in Nanjing. This discussion serves as a natural sequel to the Asian Art Council’s illustrated lecture of the painting “Strolling through Summer Mountains: Landscapes of Utopia in Ming Dynasty China.”