An Illustrated Brief History of Chinese Gardens: People, Activities, Culture (Paperback)
There are many books published in English on Chinese gardens, but the majority are primarily picture books with little informative content. With a large number of illustrations of Chinese gardens, ancient paintings, block prints, and other artefacts, this book is a social history of Chinese gardens and focuses on how gardens have functioned and been used in Chinese society through the ages. Apart from the aesthetic or philosophical aspects of Chinese gardens, you may see how gardens functioned as real estate, how they gave opportunities of employment to skilled artisans, how they opened up outdoor space to both elite and lower-class women, and how they allowed men of different social classes and of different ethnicities to interact and gain mutual benefit; in short, how the existence of gardens exerted an influence on society as a whole. At the same time, the reader can find how the wider society, and even socio-economic changes beyond China’s own borders, had an impact on how gardens in China developed.
Alison Hardie holds degrees in Literae Humaniores at the University of Oxford and in Chinese from the University of Edinburgh, and a doctorate in the history of Chinese garden design from the University of Sussex. Her main research interest is in the social and cultural history of early modern China. She has published many translations and articles on Chinese garden history. Since taking early retirement from the University of Leeds in 2015, she has been a Visiting Fellow in Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks.