Yu Yuan 豫园
Dragon on Interior Gate

The Yu Yuan garden fell into decline in the early 1600s. In 1644, the Ming Dynasty was conquered by the Manchus and they founded the Qing Dynasty (清朝).

The entire social fabric changed. The Chinese who had flourished under the Ming were now second class. While the Imperial Examinations continued the scholar-official class could only advance so far in the government. Many refused to work for the court and followed paths of individual scholarship. Painters such as Luo Pin (罗聘 1733-1799) refused to work for the Qing government and chose to live by selling their paintings rather than attempt to get an official position or commissions.

Wealth moved to new hands and in the early days of the Qing, the Manchus were not interested in classical Chinese gardens. It wasn't until the society stabilized and the economy took off in the 1700s that luxuries were again in demand. In the 25th year of Qianlong, 1760, a group of Shanghai merchants pooled resources and bought Yu Yuan and began its restoration.

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

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