Gardens are sites that can be at one and the same time admired works of art and valuable pieces of real estate. As the first account in English to be wholly based on contemporary Chinese sources, this beautifully illustrated book grounds the practices of garden-making in Ming Dynasty China (1369–1644) firmly in the social and cultural history of the day.
Who owned gardens? Who visited them? How were they represented in words, in paintings and in visual culture generally, and what meanings did these representations hold at different levels of Chinese society? Drawing on a wide range of recent work in cultural theory, Craig Clunas provides for the first time a historical and materialist account of Chinese garden culture, and replaces broad generalizations and orientalist fantasy with a convincing picture of the garden's role in social life.