China’s cultural and natural heritage belongs not only to China but also to the world and all of humanity. The documentary series, Chinese Archives of World Heritage Sites, focus at length on 22 legacies - their history, geography, natural expertise, and related cultural artifacts. They help viewers to understand the shape of Chinese culture developed over thousands of years, including political ideology, moral concepts, philosophical ideas, aesthetic pursuits, life interests and even the conduct and spirit of the Chinese people. They also inspire people to think about the meaning of traditional culture and natural environment as a source of power and sustenance. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Suzhou was a prosperous city due to silk production and agriculture. Many of the highly educated official literati built private gardens as an art form considered on an equal footing with painting and literature. The best designs were copied for Imperial gardens in Beijing following Emperor Qianlong’s visit. (ISBN 1-59882-027-3)
Chinese Archives of World Heritage Sites
HUWA Publishing House, Inc.
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Suzhou Gardens and Chinese Culture
A Review of Suzhou Gardens
The movie I borrowed from the NCTA library called Suzhou Gardens was 30 minutes long and is part of a series of documentaries called, "Chinese Archives of World Heritage Sites." Suzhou Gardens is one of twenty two selections that feature important places in China.
Suzhou Gardens provides a look at some of the most beautiful gardens in China. “Built during the Ming and Qing dynasties, Suzhou was a prosperous city due to silk production and agriculture. Many of the highly educated official literati built private gardens as an art form considered on an equal footing with painting and literature. The best designs were copied for Imperial gardens in Beijing following Emperor Qianlong's visit.”
When watching this video you can select to listen to the narration in either English or Chinese. I liked the video because it describes the relationships between gardens and other cultural aspects. It shows nearby landforms and the architecture featured in gardens along with ponds and describes the importance of the use of rockeries in some gardens. Art, calligraphy, traditional clothing, poetry, instruments, ceramics, the importance of nature and opera are also described and related to the inspiration a garden can provide. Opera is often performed at one of the Suzhou Gardens. Also featured are scenes from neighborhoods in Suzhou, including narrow alleys. Also mentioned are the foods that may be eaten in local restaurants. Boats are shown on the river as well as people riding bikes in the streets. The Administrators Garden was planted with the four seasons in mind and Chinese poetry and other literary works are quoted throughout. Buddhism and the importance of simplicity and nature are also discussed. The Lotus flower is featured in the Lotus Pavilion. Festivals associated with and the importance of the seasons when designing gardens are highlighted and scholars are mentioned as seeing the importance of gardens for their historical and cultural value. The narrator mentions, “The gardens of Suzhou tell the story of Chinese culture in unique ways.” This is one of the main reasons I would recommend this video. However, just a short segment might be more appropriate for early elementary students as it is a little slow moving.