The garden of the Dongjiao State Guesthouse is called Ziyuan Garden. Among the
famous gardens in Nanjing, Suiyuan, Xuyuan and Zhanyuan are subtle and elegant. They have remained unchanged for a hundred years. Ziyuan Garden is also like these famous gardens, gentle and low-key. “Zi” is a short name for Zijin Mountain, which is located
in the eastern suburb of Nanjing City. It means purple comes from the east and
auspicious signs gather together. It has rich historical and regional connotations.
The meaningful name of the building
The Ziyuan Garden extends from bottom to top along Zhongshan Valley. East is a
stream, west is a garden. The four-sided hall, vehicle bridge, bridge 1 and bridge 2 in the lower part form a group of gardens. The upper part of the garden consists of a reception hall, waterside pavilion, open porch, hall, bridge 3 and bridge 4, and is decorated with
three pavilions of Xieshan, Four-corner and Six-corner.
The four-sided hall is called Xindui Hall. The hall has four sides, all facing the mountains and rivers, Zhongshan Mountain in the north, stream in the west, Qingchi in the south, so that the
mountains and streams set each other off like a picture. “Xindui” expresses the pleasure of
appreciation, which is expressed in Tao Yuanming's “Preface to Travel to Xiechuan”: “Having
not enjoyed himself to the full, he will compose poems”. It means to facing the mountains and
rivers gladly, it is not enough for the traveler to enjoy himself, and he composes poems on the
spur of the moment. On the wall in the north inside Xindui Hall is the couplet reading “the wood is thriving and the spring is trickling down”, which is copied from Tao Yuanming's “Poem of
Return”. On the wall in the north inside the Xindui Hall is the couplet reading “cloud is closely
related to rain; colorful fog is highly affected by wind”, which is copied from Lyu Bicheng's
“Traveling to Zhongshan Mountain and Shengan”.
The reception hall is called Zichun Hall. Zichun Hall is the main building of the Ziyuan Garden complex, which embodies the aesthetic conception of “beautiful landscape in
small space” in Chinese gardens.
The waterside pavilion is called Kuanyu Pavilion. The waterside pavilion is a place to watch lotus flowers and fish. It provides a spacious view and can be used for leisure. It is
also the summer scenery in the garden. The waterside pavilion is named after the verses
of Mao Zedong's poem titled “Prelude to Water Melody -Swimming”, reading: “No
matter the wind blows and the waves hit, it is better than walking on foot and getting
more than one day”. On the screen side is the couplet reading “take joy, benevolence,
wisdom and joy, and send out the shade of mountains and rivers”, which is copied from Wang Xizhi's Answer to Xu Xun.
The open pavilion is called Yanshuang Pavilion. The pavilion is a place where people
listen to the wind and rain. It is also an autumn scenery in the garden. It is full of fresh air, cool body and mind, and the spirit of showering snow. It is named after the couplet of Gao Yong, a calligrapher and painter at the end of the Qing dynasty and the beginning of the
Republic of China, which reads “listen to rain in the small pavilion, and enjoy the moon
in the ornate building”. The outer couplet reading “watch the mountain after rain, and
watch the moon before the wind” is copied from Shao Kangjie's couplet on Ningcui
There are 4 small brick inscriptions for the attached room (entrance hall): dim fragrance, thin shadow, cold winter, and moon. The inscription for the door brick of the attached room points out the winter scenery in the garden. Nanjing is a famous plum blossom city in China, so there are some references to this subject in the Ziyuan Garden. Wang Anshi wrote the
plum blossom of Zhongshan Mountain in his poem Plum Blossom: “In the corner of the wall there are several plum blossoms. They open alone in cold winter. I know from afar that it is
not snow, because there is dark fragrance.” Lin Bu, a poet in the Song Dynasty, wrote
“Little Plums of a Mountain Garden” which contains the sentences like “shadows scattered across the clear and shallow water, and dim fragrance floats on the moonlit evening.”
The three pavilions in the Ziyuan Garden are places for guests to rest, to savor nature and to think about it. The three pavilions run from the foot to the top of the mountain.
The plaque and couplets all reflect people's state of mind in the mountain and express the interest in the unity of heaven and man. The inscription is taken from “Critique of Poetry”.
Xieshan Pavilion [Plaque] Comfort
Walk into the mountain forest and feel happy and comfortable. Copied from “Critique
of Poetry – Simplicity and Nature” of Sikong Tu in the Tang Dynasty: “If it is agreeable, will it be promising?”
Square Pavilion (Four-corner Pavilion) [Plaque] Sincereness
Climb up the mountain and feel the true meaning of nature. Copied from “Critique of
Poetry - Strength and Health” of Sikong Tu in the Tang Dynasty: “Establish sincere
endowment and strong personality, and keep high-quality education and peaceful mind.”
Plaque and Return to Nature of Six-corner Pavilion
Walk to a higher place and develop a feeling of returning to nature. Copied from “Critique of Poetry – Transcendence” of Sikong Tu in the Tang Dynasty: “Return by white clouds
with cool breeze.”
From the foot to the top of the mountain, there are four bridges, which are not only the passage between mountains and gardens, but also the passage between man and nature. The four-hour Yin and Yang landscapes of sun, rainbow, chardonnay and cloud reflect the spatial change process of man's mountaineering tour.
From low to high: Yinghui Bridge, Dengxia Bridge, Lanhong Bridge and Buyun Bridge.
The southernmost bridge Yinghui Bridge
It is a pun to greet the rising sun in mountain forest, to show the scene when entering
the mountain, and to greet the distinguished guests. Copied from the poem “Qixi Festival” of Emperor Wen in the Song Dynasty: “The wind is weak. Greeting the splendor penetrates the mysterious needle.”
Bridge 2 (level bridge) Dengxia Bridge
Depicting the mountaineering journey in the clouds scene, copied from Qu Yuan's “Ode to Travel Faraway”: in rays of sunlight and clouds, soul flies up to heaven.
Bridge 3 (arch bridge) Lanhong Bridge
Meaning when going deep into the mountains, the clouds and rain are changeable, and the scene of rainbow after rain is also the symbol of arch bridge, copied from Cao
Yuanlu's Poem of Happiness: enjoy the brilliance of rainbow.
Bridge 4(level bridge) Buyun Bridge
Showing the scene of climbing the mountain and rising to the top, copied from Li Bai's poem “A Spring Day Tour to Luofu Fountain”: clouds float
around the stone, and visitors are fascinated by the flowers.