Gardens are sites that can be at one and the same time admired works of art and valuable pieces of real estate. As the first account in English to be wholly based on contemporary Chinese sources, this beautifully illustrated book grounds the practices of garden-making in Ming Dynasty China (1369–1644) firmly in the social and cultural history of the day.
Who owned gardens? Who visited them? How were they represented in words, in paintings and in visual culture generally, and what meanings did these representations hold at different levels of Chinese society? Drawing on a wide range of recent work in cultural theory, Craig Clunas provides for the first time a historical and materialist account of Chinese garden culture, and replaces broad generalizations and orientalist fantasy with a convincing picture of the garden's role in social life.
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Craig Clunas is Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Sussex. He has published extensively on the culture of the Ming period in China.
"The most extraordinary and original study of Chinese gardens in any language. . . . This book is unique in the Western literature on Chinese gardens, nor is there anything like it in the Chinese literature."
--Timothy Brook, "American Historical Review"
""Fruitful Sites" offers an account of how gardens were deployed and their meanings created and changed during a specific period in Suzhou from 1500 to 1600. A provocative study that crosses disciplinary boundaries, it draws on a wide range of cultural theory and is worthwhile reading even for those not specifically concerned with Chinese gardens."
--Judy Chunghwa Ho," The Journal of Asian Studies"
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