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New Section Of The Huntington’s Chinese Garden Debuts As Phase Ii Takes Shape

March 4, 2014 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

Visitors who thought the Chinese Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens was beautiful already are in for another feast this March:  the unveiling of two new pavilions and a rock grotto as part of Phase II construction of the garden known as Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance.

The new Clear and Transcendent pavilion in the Chinese Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical GardensA group of 23 artisans from Suzhou, China, worked from September 2013 through January 2014 on the three new features on the west and north sides of the garden’s central lake. (The south and east sides were completed during the garden’s first phase, which opened to visitors in 2008.) The new features that open to the public on March 8 are a rock grotto, eloquently named Lingering Clouds Peak, which includes a waterfall that visitors can walk through as water cascades from a stream overhead, and two new hand-crafted, tile-roofed buildings: the Waveless Boat pavilion, facing a picturesque view of the existing Jade Ribbon Bridge, and the Clear and Transcendent pavilion, an intricately carved performance space.

Like the Phase I elements of Liu Fang Yuan, the garden’s three newest areas are richly layered with artisan details evoking intertwined metaphors and centuries of Chinese literary tradition. For example, the cracked-ice-and-flower patterns repeated in stone-inlaid pathways and visible in hand-carved lattice in the Clear and Transcendent pavilion are meant to conjure the signs of early spring in China, when frozen lakes begin to melt and the plum blossoms start to bloom. The hand-made roof tiles (produced with clay from the Yangzi river delta) along the drip line of the Clear and Transcendent pavilion are imprinted with a symbol of the peony, a reference to The Peony Pavilion, a famous epic (more than 20 hours long) play by poet Tang Xianzu (1550–1616). The Peony Pavilionwas performed as Kun opera—an ancient opera form from the Suzhou region. More…

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