The Surging Waves Pavilion
(Cang Lang Ting)
Kavargó Hullámok Pavilonjának kertje

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The Surging Waves Pavilion
Source: Suzhou Gardens, China Architecture & Building Press

This is the eldest of the Suzhou gardens preserved today. It occupies an area of 1.1 hectares,and was built during the Northern Song's Qingli period (1044 A.D.). The poet Su Shunqin was dismissed from office, and came to Suzhou because he felt that the location of the planned garden had fresh air, quietute and natural streams. He spent 40,000 units of old style money to buy the location, and started to build the garden next to the water. He called it the Surging Waves Pavilion ; it went through both splendour and decay several times, but was restored during the 35th year of the Kangxi period of the Qing dynasty (1696 A.D.). At that time its location was moved into the fields; terraces, corridors and other buildings were constructed. Next to the pond a stone bridge was built forming the entrance. This is the basic foundation of the garden in its present stage.
The Surging Waves Pavilion is simple and unsophisticated,quiet and secluded, and among Suzhou gardens, it has its own style. Most Suzhou gardens are surrounded by a high wall, with hills and pools. But the
Surging Waves Pavilion is situated next to a big pond, and the water streaming from this pond surronds half the garden and departs from the south. Adjacent to the water are winding corridors, rockeries and old trees. This type of layout mixes views from outside and inside the garden, and borrows the water surface of 2-2.7 hectares in order to expand its space, giving a feeling of remoteness and spaciousness. Next to the water are mountains and rocks; behind these are trees, then more mountains and rocks-unending, but gradually diminishing; expressing forceful, deep, simple and unsophisticated feelings.
The Surging Waves Pavilion offers beautiful views in all seasons for enjoyment. During springtime one can sit on the green grass and enjoy the bamboo; during summertime one can sit in pavilions and enjoy the lotus blossoms; during the autum one can sit in a studio and smell the fragrance of sweet-scented osmanthus; in the winter one can sit in a room and enjoy the plum blossoms. Rockeries, flower-covered walls and tablets add much beauty to this ancient garden.

Garden of the Surging Wave Pavilion
Source: Classical Chinese Gardens, China Building Industry Press, Beijing

The Garden of Surging Wave Pavilion is the oldest of all Suzhou gardens, being built at the end of the Five Dynasties as the villa of Sun Chengyou. In the Northern Song Dynasty, the poet Su Shunqin built the Surging Wave Pavilion at the villa, and in the Southern Song the famous general Han Shizhong who fought the Nuzhen Tartars lived here. In the Ming Dynasty it became a temple. A large part of the garden today was reconstructed during the Qing Dynasty.
At the entrance are an archway with the garden's name inscribed on it and a stone bridge. Going east after passing the bridge one comes to the Pavilion Facing Water which is situated by the side of a lake to its north and faces a miniature mountain to its south. Moving on, one can enjoy the scenes inside and outside the garden through the lattice windows on the walls of a long double gallery. Further east is the Fishing Terrace, a pavilion by the shore of the lake. From the Fishing Terrace a gallery joins a path which leads to the main structure of the garden, the Surging Wave Pavilion. Square in shape and archaic in form, the pavilion is supported by stone columns and beams. Placed horizontally on the front beam of the pavilion is a tablet on which is inscribed the name of the pavilion - Gang Lang, meaning Surging Waves. This tablet is a relic of the Qian Long era of the Qing Dynasty. On the columns on the same side is inscribed a couplet which goes:

"The fresh breeze and the shining moon are a free gift,
Nigh and afar the streams and hills seem to have affections."

Standing on the eastern part of the miniature mountain, the pavilion is surrounded by verdant green. Looking around, one may wonder whether it is in a natural vale.
The miniature mountain lying in the middle of the garden compound can be divided into two parts. The eastern part is constructed mainly with huangshi granite, mixing rocks and earth. An apparition of a real mountain, its winding paths, streams and valleys create the scenery of a natural landscape. The western part is a natural landscape built out of hushi eroded limestone. At the foot is a huge rock inscribed with the words "liu yu", polished jade, which refer to the beauty of this miniature mountain.
To the south are two clusters of buildings. Of the east cluster, the Hall for Elucidating the Way (Ming Dao Tang) and World of the Immortals (Yao Hua Jing Jie) are the largest structures. The west cluster is composed of Fragrant Hall, Memorial Hall of Five Hundred Men of Virtues, Hall of the Utmost Respect (Yang Zhi Tang), Exquisite Green Hall and Lotus Pavilion. Together with many verandahs, they form a compound of various scenes.
At the southern tip of the garden is another miniature mountain, much smaller in size. On the top of the mountain, Mountain View Hall offers a good distant view of the scene to the north. Below the hall are two stone houses, in front of which is a rockery which bears the inscription "Yuan Ling zheng jian" (May the Garden God be my witness) in the handwriting of Lin Zexu, the official who destroyed the illegal opium of the British in 1839.

The Canlang Pavilion

Celebrated for the delights of the wilderness of mountain and forest scenery, the Canglang Pavilion is the oldest among the existing classical gardens of Suzhou. The exact location of the Canglang Pavilion can be found in the Song Dynasty map of Pingjiang (Suzhou, A.D. 1229) inscribed on the stele. The northern Song poet Su Sunqin said in "A Record of the Canglang Pavilion", "...To the east of the Confucian Temple were earthen hills covered with trees and grass, and a wide expanse of water, quite different from the urban scenes... I was reluctant to leave because I fell in love with this place. So I bought it for 20,000 coins, built a pavilion on the rock projecting over the water on the north and called it the Canglang Pavilion." Fan Chenda wrote in "Historical Records of Wu Jun" under the Song Dynasty, "The Canglang Pavilion is located to the south of the Confucian Temple, fronting an area of about 1.6 ac. of water space... During the reign of Qingli (1044 A.D.) Su Sunqing bought it and built a pavilion by the water, called the  Canglang Pavilion... The name of the Canglang has been known to all far and wide since then." On the whole the present garden of the Canglang Pavilion still keeps the style of the Song. It features a range of man-made moutains inside the garden and waterscapes outside. Proceeding past the pure expanse of water over a zigzag bridge of stone and through the entrance, one comes to the garden and catches sight of man-made mountain covered with age-old trees and bamboo, running from east to west. At the foot of the mountains are rocky slops. The Canglang Pavilion in the shape of a square stands at the top of the mountain and has a parallel couplet from the Song poets on the stone pillars to heighten artistic conception, reading, "The refreshing breeze and the bright moon are priceless, the nearby water and the distant mountains strike a sentimental note", Most of the garden buildings, simple and plain, were rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty, carefully arranged around the mountains and connected by a long roofed walkway. A double-corridor built by the canal lies to the northof the garden, unifying waterscapes outside the garden and "mountain scenery" inside in one breath through its latticed windows, one of incredible examples of borrowed scenes in the classical gardens of  Suzhou. There're over 100 different latticed windows with impressive designs,possessing extremely high artistic value.

To the south of the mountains is the chief building of the garden,called "the Enlightenment Hall". Other building include the Smelling Prunus Mume Pavilion, the Realm of Yaohua (Yaohua is said to be a kind of jade-like, sweet-smelling flower in the Chinese garden of Eden, which can help prolong the life expectancy of those who behold it.), the Mountain-in-View Tower, the Elegant Bamboo House, the Temple of 500 Sages, the Pure Fragrance House, the Imperial Stele Pavilion, the Pavilion Fronting Water, the Fish Watching Spot, the Water Pavilion of Lotus Fragrance, and the Prunus Mume Pavilion.

The garden has altogether 20 different building, 22 plateaux and tablets, 23 parallel couplets, 153 steles, and 12 such valuable old trees as gingo biloba L., pterocarya stenoptera, celtis sinensis pers, camellia japonica L., santalum album, chimonanthus praecox, etc., 70 kinds of valuable cymbidium spp., and 18 kinds of bambusoideae.

Cang Lang Ting (Blue-Waves Pavilion)
Source: Sights and Scenes of Suzhou, Zhaohua Publishing House, Beijing, 1983

Blue-Waves Pavilion was an imperial flower garden during the reign of King Qian Yuanliao of the State of Wuyue (907-926) in the Five Dynasties period (907-960). The garden is situated at Sar.yuanfang, south of the city proper. In 1044, during the Song dynasty, the poet Su Shunqin* bought the garden for 40,000 strings of cash and had a pavilion erected beside the water. He named it Blue-Waves Pavilion from the lines of a poem called "Fishermen" by Qu Yuan (c. 340-c. 278 B.C.), a famous poet and statesman of the State of Chu.

With a history of over 900 years, Blue-Waves Pavilion is one of oldest gardens in Suzhou. Occupying less than one hectare of land, it is embellished with steep rocky hills which produce an effect of archaic serenity and natural beauty.

Before entering the north gate of Blue-Waves Pavilion, one sees a stone bridge across a stream flowing past the garden's gate. On the bridge stands an archway inscribed with four Chinese characters, "Gang Lang Sheng Ji' (Blue-Waves Historical Site). Entering a hall beside the gate, one sees a map of the garden as well as notes on the construction and subsequent rebuilding of the garden carved on tablets set in the eastern and southern walls. These provide some information about the historical background of this ancient garden.

Turning right from the gate and proceeding along a corridor, one finds a small pool with two Chinese seal characters "Liu Yu" (Flowing Jade) carved on the rocks beside it.
Further along is Yang Zhi Ting (Stop-and-Lcok-Up Pavilion), which gets its name from a poem in the Books of Songs. On one of the walls inside the pavilion is carved a portrait of Wen Zhengming, a well-known painter of the Ming dynasty.

*Su Shunqin (1008-1048), also named Su Zimei, was a poet of the Northern Song dynasty. At one time he was a judge in the dynasty's highest court. After resigning from his official duties he returned to Blue-Waves Garden and took to writing. His articles are collected in a book entitled Scholar Su's Writings.

Cui Ling Long (Green and Exquisite) is a quaint three-room building with green bamboo growing on all four sides.

Wu Bai Ming Xian Ci (Five Hundred Sages Temple), next Green and Exquisite Hall, has walls carved with 500 images in inverse relief. These are of celebrities who, in the past two housand years, have in one way or another figured in Suzhou's history. The carvings, executed by Gu Xiangzhou, a famous artist in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), are well preserved and are among the best in the city.

Kan Shan Lou (Hill-Viewing Tower) is situated in the southern part of the garden. From the top of tower one can see the mountains in Suzhou's suburbs.

Yin Xin Shi Wu (Mutual Affinity Stone Chamber) lies not from Hill-Viewing Tower. At the entrance are carved four Chinese characters, originally written by Lin Zexu (1785-1850), statesman during the Qing dynasty. Lin was appointed the governer of Jiangsu province and viceroy of Hunan, Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. He did much to ban opium-smok-; and the opium trade in Guangzhou, but was dismissed from his post because of false charges leveled at him by capitula-tionists at the Qing court.

Yao Hua Jing Jie (Distant and Magnificent Vistas) hall was used as a study by the garden's owner, who maintained that only scholars can attain breadth of spirit and farsightedness.

Ming Dao Tang (Bright Path Hall) is the largest building the garden. It is said to have been used by scholars as a lec-ture hall.

Qing Xiang Guan (Delicate Fragrance Hall) stands to the eft of Bright Path Hall. It gets its name from the sweet-scented osmanthus growing around it. Furniture made of roots of the banyan tree can still be seen in the hall. Of exquisite workmanship, they are said to be a hundred years old.

Blue-Waves Pavilion is built on top of a hill. Stone columns on both sides of the pavilion are carved with the poetic couplet: "Light breezes and a bright moon are without price; nearby mountains and distant waters arouse sentimental feelings." The first line is from a poem by Oyang Xiu; the second is from Su Shunqin. Oyang Xiu (1001-1072) was a writer and historian in the Northern Song dynasty. Noted for his lyric prose, he is credited as being one of the eight greatest writers of the Tang and Song dynasties.

Guan Yu Chu (Place for Viewing Fish), also called Diao Yu Tai (Fishing Platform), is surrounded by water on three sides. It was used for watching fish and enjoying the cool in summer.

Mian Shui Xuan (Facing-the-Water Pavilion) overlooks water on its northern and western sides and is fronted by a grove of ancient trees. Its name comes from a line of poetry by Du Fu: "All pavilions overlook the water; the ancient trees before them are weatherbeaten." Du Fu (712-770), also named Du Zimei, was a well-known poet in the Tang dynasty whose style of writing had profound impact on later generations. He was a counsellor for the governor of Jiannan prefecture. During the reign of Emperor Xiao Zong (711-762) he was appointed a court censor. But he soon resigned and moved his home to Chengdu, where he built a cottage beside Wanhuaxi River.

Today, Facing-the-Water Pavilion has been turned into a teahouse.