Korean garden

Korean garden

Korean gardens have a history that go back a thousand years, but are little known in the west. The oldest records date to Three Kingdoms period (57 BC- 668 AD) when architecture and palace gardens showed development as was noted in "Samguk Sagi".

tyle of Korean Gardens

Influenced by Chinese gardens, and similar to English gardens, Korean gardens are natural, simple, and unforced. They involve both the people within them, and the buildings, in an unforced and at times irregular asymmetry, where the total landscape flows in a natural and progressive way without being forced, or ritualized. Western landscape designs by the likes of Capability Brown and the American Frederick Law Olmsted are comparable. Gardens are generally classified into eight categories: palaces, private residence, country village or Byolso, pavilions, Buddhist temples, Confucian academies, royal funerary grounds and villages.

While each has unique features, generally they include: shaped trees, landscape elements from mountains through hills, various sizes of rivers or streams to scale, small circular ponds, larger ponds with islands within them, stands of bamboo, "rockeries" or multiple rock arrangements, waterfalls where possible, granite basins of square or round design, pear, apple, and other fruit trees. Harmony depended on no single feature or absolute form dominating the perspective.

Representative Korean Gardens

The most central and representative and relatively undisturbed classical Korean gardens are in three complexes.

*The Iseong mountain fortress of Baekje near Seoul, where one finds numerous rockeries depicting turtles, dragons or phoenixes
*The Anak Palace Garden of Goguryeo near Pyongyang, where one finds the remains of three rock Garden complexes.
*The Anapji Garden of Silla in Gyeongju is perhaps the best known, with three islands in the pond, man-made waterfalls in two tiers, granite basins of round and square design as well as hundreds of rock arrangement along its curbed shore.

Further important gardens, often historical recreations, are found at these sites:

* The rear garden of Changdeok Palace in Seoul, especially the Buyong pond with the pavilion of cosmic union.
* The Chongpyeong-sa temple near Chuncheon.

Current Restoration Work

National scholars in the Republic of Korea are now attempting to build a database through drawings, photographs, and surveys of the landscape of traditional gardens, and attempt recreations.

Rumoured attempts at recreating classical Korean gardens are said to be occurring on small scales in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, but as yet there is no pictorial evidence.

Trees, plants and symbolic landscape of Korean Gardens

The vernacular of the Korean garden generally includes evergreen trees (various species of Korean pine) as a constant, flowering pear trees in the spring; bamboo forests alongside the secondary entrance gates of temples and palaces symbolize fidelity and honesty; and straight walks tend to be bordered by larger sized gravels of irregular shape. These features are especially noticeable in restorations.

Terrain tends to follow natural courses, and unlike traditional Chinese gardens, the use of straight paths is not proscribed, but lessened. Significant or important elements tend to face east. And Korean readings of feng shui are regarded with great care, as geomancy was a strong influence in aligning the gardens with stelae, halls and buildings.

Unusual Features

Korean gardens are interesting for drawing various birds. Animals were an important to the natural appeal of the garden, so stone animals and animal motifs were common as well as actual fish, birds and other creatures.

Korean gardens often have decorative pavilions from which the surrounding garden can be enjoyed. Scholars from the yangban aristocracy sat in their pavilions constructed in either a cultivated garden or a natural area with its own view of the mountains or landscape. These served as places of relaxation and enjoyment and as a place to receive other men to be entertained or to talk about business. Playing chess, painting, resting and other leisurely activities were also pursued in these pavilions because of the exceptional view and surrounding beauty.

Korea gardens also often have ponds because water is an important element to any garden for practical reasons such as plant watering and cooling the temperature. It was also important in old days because it prevented the wooden buildings of Korea from burning down. In the garden, a murky green color is prized unlike the Western love of blue water. Clear water is generally found in streams and natural water sources rather than ponds which are dug out on purpose in a convenient spot. Sometimes the water looks black if the inside of the pond is walled with stone blocks. Lotuses are usually the most common thing to plant in a pond, but there are many unusual options other than lotuses.

During the Japanese colonization, Huwon, or Rear Garden in Changduk Palace in Seoul was renamed Biwon, or Secret Garden, by the Japanese.Fact|date=June 2007 Therefore, it is rude to call the garden Biwon.

Huwon in Changduk Palace is a huge garden showing the refined style of the imperial family. It contains many trees which are hundreds of years old however and is carefully monitored and preserved from the public. The style of Huwon is very different from the gardens of the yangban classes and is much more refined. However, like all Korean gardens it has a very natural beauty in which the royal family could rest in a private place.

Korean Gardens Abroad

A traditional Korean garden is currently under construction in Nantes, France. "Suncheon Garden", a 5000 square metre site, is enclosed within Blottereau Park, and celebrates the 120th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Korea and France.

Korean Garden Society

The Traditional Korean Garden Society in Seoul, ROK, often sponsors lectures and tours of Korean gardens with Professor Sim Woo-kyung often acting as host and landscape interpreter.

External links

* [http://www.koreancatholic.org/Infor/heritage13.cfm Examples and simple outline of Korean gardens]

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