Humanistic factors to make LIangyuan famous
2014.08.15

Foshan’s Liangyuan, one of the most famous four gardens in Guangdong, has long been a cultural card, its delicate water and exotic stones attract visitors worldwide. Admittedly, the beauty of landscape is the key to building layout, water and stone structure, but if we only focus on the external charm and ignore its internal cultural connotations and the humanistic factors, we will not really understand what are the inner reasons to make Liangyuan so .

As an important part of Chinese traditional culture, gardens, from the start, is not merely the combination and piling up of tiles, water, stones. Because Chinese culture never considers anything as it stands, it pays attention to the connotation and denotation of things, the inner relation and harmony, and puts more emphasis on a broad humanistic care. Mr. Qian Mu had said: The first system of Chinese learning is "human system", which is centered on how to behave, on man as the system. We also often say that "Poetry expresses wills" and "The style is the man," so all aspects of Chinese culture are inseparable from the capitalized word "people". Chinese gardens, as a "collection of the essence of architecture, painting and calligraphy and literature, are a kind of the embodiment of the humanities: every brick, every tile, every hill and very pond is the fusion of the maxim of the garden owner and philosophy of his life.

Liangyuan also contains the owner's "heart melodies”. The Liang families in Songgui-li started to do business, and later,  business and learning were both important for the family. Although they had won some fame, none of his family members were willing to enter into official career. Once involved, they would retreat sound and safe, making every effort to engage in the development of his hometown and personal qualities. In terms of the hometown construction, the patriarch Leung Kwok-hung was public-spirited. The whole family would help   build bridges and roads, relieve disasters. They were a well-known family of charity in Foshan. Besides, they were willing to open their doors to dignitaries, and men of letters came afar to exchange skills in poetry while drinking liquor. There were so many unfamiliar writers and poets coming to either exchange poems or ask for calligraphies.

It is just the family’s indifference to fame and wealth, and their generosity, large circles of friends of excellent qualities that make the garden layout unique with Chinese excellent cultural connotation. The small and exquisite gate reflects the owner’s reserved personality and his implicative ways of doing things; Its simple compact style reflects the owner’s indifference to fame and wealth, and his thriftiness. The layout of the ancestral temple garden highlights the master’s respect to ancestors, the succession of rituals of household management. Obviously, it's not just his famous beauty, but more impressive thing is its owner's unique personality charm. When officials and literati came to see  the owner, the fame of the garden naturally spread.

As a result, the modern urbanites view gardens not merely for the landscape, but for the understanding of the garden layout through its owner; and then by the garden layout they feel the garden owner’s "heart melodies"; in a quiet state of mind they enjoy the beauty and ponder. If you come here for a glance with a sense of going shopping, you will find "there's nothing to see." Liangyuan now is to be expanded, and some other gardens are to be restored elsewhere. Whatever its final size and scenery, its ultimate purpose is to advocate a kind of quiet, fun way of life. Just imagine a more peaceful life if the modern urbanites, in their uneasy blundering mood, infuse some of Tao Yuanming's free thoughts!