Yu Yuan 豫园
Detail of Main Gate to Yu Yuan

In this three dimensional tableau a crowd watches an official drive by. The Pans must have driven thus throughout their lives. For the most part during the early and middle years of the Ming Dynasty, the country prospered and the officials with it.

Pan En was able to enjoy a number of years in his garden, but he died before it was finished. When it was finished it occupied 70 Chinese acres or 11.5 English acres. There were about 40 buildings, several ponds, rockeries, and several covered walkways.

Gardens such as this were occupied by large extended families. Pan Yunduan's younger brothers, his cousins, his sons, nephews, and all of the wives would have lived here. Some of the men would have a position in government or the military, but for the most part the family lived on the income from Pan En's post and then were supported by Pan Yunduan.

In addition to the family, there would have been cooks, under-cooks, cleaners, gardeners, masons, secretaries, maids, stable boys and grooms, seamstresses, and the other staff necessary for the smooth running of an estate. Including the family, several hundred people would have lived here and more would have come for day work.

The garden was actually several gardens, each with its own characteristic and function. Some were just for the family, there were places to greet old friends, and places to meet formal guests. Most of all there were varieties of landscape, each keyed to a different season or time of day. A window here to catch the light, a doorway there to frame a tree, or a quiet bench to contemplate the play of light on the water.

China Index >> History of Shanghai and Suzhou Region >> Yu Yuan

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Last update: February 2007
© Marilyn Shea 1996, 1999, 2002, 2007