Zhou WuZhong, Chen Xiaoyan
For thousands years, the Chinese have a tradition of mountain worship. Some mountains in gardens are real ones, however, most ‘mountains’ in Chinese traditional gardens are artificial rockwork. Rockery has taken a very prominent place in traditional Chinese garden design.
The rockery has originated and developed together with Chinese gardens. In late Yin and early Zhou dynasties (1600 B.C.-771B.C.), the rudiment of rockery appeared, namely, ‘tai’ in imperial gardens. In Qin and Han dynasties (221 B.C.-220), the rockery was in the form of earth piled hill or earth and stone piled hill from a distant view. In Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern dynasties (220-589), rockery had gradually established its dominant position in Chinese traditional gardens, and started to transform into a realistic style from a nearby view. In Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907), though rockery itself was not quite popular, the aesthetic value of it was highly recognized and was usually appreciated in the form of garden rockery and Penjing. In Song dynasty (960-1279), the rockery art which imitated the nature had achieved its highest level and best state and people started to pile the rockery with natural stones. Furthermore, a group of craftsman specified in rockwork appeared. In Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), lots of great masters had developed the rockery art into a freehand style on the basis of Song. They perfected the rockery art from both theory and practice.
Due to generations of creation and thousands years of experience, rockery has become an artistic image with the best expressive force and characteristics. It has come down in one continuous line and is still popular today. The ‘rockery fever’ in modern garden and landscape art design vividly shows its profound cultural founda¬tion and people’s aesthetic taste in China. The same as sculpture’s position in western gardens, rockery takes a crucial place in Chinese traditional gardens. ‘Derived from the nature and superior to the nature’, if it is the main characteristic of traditional Chinese garden, then, it is the high-level rockwork art which makes it true.
Zhou WuZhong, and Chen Xiaoyan, (2010). A SURVEY OF ROCKERY ART HISTORY IN TRADITIONAL CHINESE GARDENS. Acta Hortic. 881, 287-294
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2010.881.38
rockery, Chinese traditional garden, history of garden, garden appreciation

Acta Horticulturae