Nippon Teien Gakkaishi
Online ISSN : 2186-0025
Print ISSN : 0919-4592
ISSN-L : 0919-4592
The Square Pond in Chinese Garden History - An Approach through Zhu Xi's Small Square Pond
Ataru Sotomura
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2011 Volume 2011 Issue 25 Pages 25_1-25_15


Today, a square pond seems to be broadly regarded as an unimportant design element in Chinese garden history. However, there are a large number of literary works, which describe a square pond. Judging from citation frequency, it can be said that one of the most influential examples is the pond, which is depicted in the poem "Guan shu you gan 觀書有感 (Thoughts While Reading) " written by Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200), who is one of the most outstanding Confucian scholars in the history of China. The characteristics of his pond are: 1) it is small and square, which means it is austere; 2) water constantly pours into it from a stream; 3) it is like a mirror, which reflects the sky; and 4) it reflects especially the change of the look of the sky in the daytime. Many texts and poems indicate that this type of pond was popular, although not being favored by scholars like Wen Zhenheng 文震亨 (1585-1645), who clearly expressed his dislike in his famous book "Zhangwuzhi 長物志 (Treatise on Superfluous Things)". There are also many writings, which mention beautiful lotus flowers in a square pond. Other works show appreciation of beauty of a square pond on the ground as opposed to the full moon in the sky. These writings suggest the necessity to reconsider the value of a square pond as a design element of the Chinese garden. Since almost no detailed research has been conducted on a square pond in Japanese garden history, it might be also needed to examine the Japanese understanding on such a pond as a design element of the Japanese Garden.

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© 2011 The Academic Society of Japanese Garden
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