Landscape and Rusticity in the Chinese Living Environment

Thatched huts, reclusive mountain abodes, and noble sages who possess the Dao—the answer to the ultimate questions of humankind—have formed a conceptual unit in China since the Middle Ages. When Zong Bing (375–443) was too old to roam the rugged mountains safely, he became the first Chinese painter on record to depict landscape scenery on the walls of his home. To him, as to the majority of later Chinese intellectuals, experiencing the mountain landscape was tantamount to cultivating the self. This seminar examines the varied ways in which the ideals of reclusion and natural scenery have manifested themselves in the design and furnishing of Chinese residences. These include the construction of gardens as mountainous retreats, the celebration of bizarre rocks, the decoration of interiors with landscape painting and poetry, the elegant presentation of cut garden plants, as well as the design of rustic furniture and implements for drinking wine and tea. 3 credits.