Qianlong Emperor, Ieoh Ming Pei

Qianlong emperor visit the Lion Grove Garden for six times

In order to both supervise the Yellow River-Huaihe River project and Zhejiang Seawall project and cultivate popularity of Jiangnan, Qianlong visit Jiangnan for six times. The local officer would present maps, list historic sites and introduce the poems to Qianlong Emperor, because everyone knew that he liked travelling, writing and painting. Qianlong Emperor liked to go to the Tiger Hill, Tianping Mount, Flower Mount and Dengwei Mount best. Outside the city, he went to Hanshan Villa a lot; inside, the Lion Grove Garden. He left a lot of poems and inscriptions at these places. According to the Supervise Jiangnan Record and Suzhou Government Office Record, Qianlong Emperor went to the Lion Grove Garden every time since the second time he came to supervise Jiangnan. When Qianlong Emperor came to Jiangnan for the second time in 1757, he brought Picture Scroll of Lion Grove Garden of Zan Ni, a famous painter. He compared the picture and the real scene. He gave a tablet Reflecting Mirror, and wrote a poem Visit the Lion Grove Garden. In this poem, he said that he had heard about the Lion Grove Garden a long time ago. And when he visited it, he saw old wisteria hanging on the pines, clear water in pools, rockeries that looked like real hills. People felt like the garden was located in a quiet valley rather than in a busy city. It’s a heaven on earth. Compare to the new buildings of Hanshan Villa, the old-style decoration showed the nature. The poem can be seen on the royal stele in the garden. Five years later, i.e. 1762, during the third time Qianlong Emperor came to Jiangnan, he wrote two seven-syllable poems. One was written on the blank area of his copy of Picture Scroll of Lion Grove Garden. And he asked to keep it in Suzhou forever. The other, Poem got when visiting the Garden, was on blank area of Ni’s picture. He praised that trees and peaks were like from the pictures, and lakes and rivers were like from the heaven. For the fourth visit, Qianlong Emperor left a tablet True Delight and present satins to everyone of the Huang Family. In the collection Poems at Scene, he wrote three four-line poems with seven characters to a line and an eight-line poem with seven characters to a line. In the four-line poem, he said the best place in the city is the Lion Grove Garden. Here you can feel the light rains and winds. Though in the busy city, you can feel like in a remote place. In the eight-line poem, he said he feels so happy when looking at the picture of Ni, but better when be in the garden. He was also modest to think Ni painted better than him. When he was going back from Zhejiang to Beijing, he stopped over Suzhou for a little while and went to the garden again. Then he left an eight-line poem, Visit the Garden Again. He expressed that he liked the garden best in this city. When back to Beijing Qianlong Emperor had a replica of the garden constructed in the Changchun garden of the Summer Palace and at the Chengde Mountain Resort. The expenses were respectively 130,000 taels of gold and 70,000 taels of gold. And each had a copy of Ni’s picture. The original picture was collected into Shiqu Book. During the fifth visit, he wrote the replicas in Beijing and Chengde Mountain only have the looks of the garden, but cannot be as good as it. Four years later, the last time he visited Jiangnan, he came to the 12 scenes which Bi Xu drew pictures for. He said when you are copying pictures, you should be concentrated. I have already visited Jiangnan for six times, may not come anymore. Where else can I find such a beautiful place? Maybe in my dreams, I will come here again. Picture Scroll of Lion Grove Garden has eight poems from Qianlong Emperor on. But now we can only see the faded photos of it. It is said the original is kept in the Imperial Palace Museum in Beijing.

Ieoh Ming Pei and the Lion Grove Garden

Ieoh Ming Pei is a Chinese American architect. He is also a honorary professor of Tongji University. Pei was born on April 26th, 1917, Guangzhou. The ancestors were prominent families of Suzhou. The family used to have the Lion Grove Garden, where Ieoh Ming Pei had a good childhood. When Pei grew to ten, he followed his father to Shanghai. In 1935, he went to America for study. Later he learned architecture in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard. He founded a architecture firm in 1995 and retired in 1990.