Yuyin shanfang, Panyu, Guangzhou suburbs. Picture: J.Richard 2010, all rights reserved.
New approaches in Chinese garden history, conference abstract
19th June 2015, at the University of Sheffield
Josepha Richard, PhD candidate, University of Sheffield, UK
"Cantonese gardens in the 19th century"
Gardens in Lingnan, particularly those located in and around Guangzhou (Canton), were among the first Chinese gardens to be visited by Westerners, as until the Opium Wars, movements of foreigners were restricted to the city of Guangzhou, with the exception of a few missionaries who were able to enter Beijing. Thus Guangzhou gardens, and more specifically the Co-Hong (or merchant) gardens of the 19th century, have largely informed Western understanding of Chinese gardens at a time when Suzhou gardens were inaccessible to foreigners. However, despite its historical importance the Lingnan region has not been thoroughly explored by Western scholars, and research in China has mostly seen local exposure. This paper will present a conjectural reconstruction of Co-Hong merchant Howqua’s garden, built at the beginning of the 19th century in the suburbs of Guangzhou. This reconstruction is based on Western diaries, records and photographs, as well as Chinese sources such as annals, export paintings and poetry. Howqua’s garden is presented in the context of social life of late Qing Guangzhou, when its inhabitants were developing a discourse of local culture in the wake of the creation of the Xuehaitang Academy.