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The Magical China Trip 2012

Yu Yuan - Shoka in Shanghai

CHINA | Saturday, 29 September 2012 | Views [491]

Shoka is an ancient word for stone.  The Yuyuan (garden) is a garden of stone, water, prana (plants), and sculpture.  Shaped by the movement of water, the stones of the garden hold the peace acquired from the ages lying at the bottom of a deep lake.  It is a famous classical garden located in the very heart of Shanghai and completely surrounded by the city.  It is an oasis in the center of the world’s most cosmopolitan city.  The garden was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan.  Yu in Chinese means pleasing and satisfying, and this garden was specially built for Pan's parents as a place for them to enjoy a tranquil and happy time in their old age.

In the 400 years of its existence, Yuyuan Garden underwent a number of changes.  It became very dilapidated during the late Ming Dynasty.  In 1760, some rich merchants bought the Garden and spent more than 20 years reconstructing the buildings.  During the Opium War of the 19th century, Yuyuan was severely damaged.  Today’s Garden is the result of a five year restoration project which began in 1956.  The garden was opened to the public in September 1961 and declared a national monument in 1982

The true treasure of Yuyuan Garden is the “Exquisite Jade Rock,” which is one of three famous rocks in the southern region of the Yangtze River.  Exquisite Jade Rock” (玉玲珑, Yù Línglóng) is a porous 3.3-meter, 5-ton boulder.  Rumors about its origin include the story that it was meant for the imperial palace in Beijing, but was salvaged after the boat sank off Shanghai.

I was at peace in Yuyuan.  Dragon heads and backs form the top of the walls, keeping the energy intact, while prana plays with shoka to form unique designs of beauty and solace.  It invoked a feeling of comfort and safety, reminiscent of caves.  This experience will provide a perspective for viewing the gardens in Suzhou and Hangzhou later in this trip.

Tags: shanghai, yu yuan garden

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