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The spirit of stones

17 August, 2009 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, japan | By: xensen

Stones in Japan are used for bridges, water containers, lanterns, and many other purposes. They are especially used as steps on paths.

In an echo of Japan’s animistic native beliefs, stones are chosen for the spirit they emanate. They form a link between people and the earth. Stones that are scored or pitted or covered with moss evoke the spirit of wabi-sabi — of harmonious simplicity and impermanence (more on this in a subsequent post).

This image of petal-covered stepping stone as Shokokuji, a Rinzai Zen temple in Kyoto, comes from EYLC’s photostream.

Huntington’s Garden of Flowing Fragrance

31 March, 2008 (05:00) | architecture/public, china | By: xensen

terrace of the jade mirror at the huntington gardens near pasadena california

The Huntington Gardens in San Marino near Pasadena, California, recently opened their new Chinese-themed garden, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance (Liu Fang Yuan). (Last time I was there the garden was under construction, but I will make a point to see it when I am in LA this May for BEA, the book publishing trade fair.)

The garden is inspired by the Chinese literati tradition of gardens as places of contemplation. Such gardens were seen as analogous to scroll paintings — as one walks through the garden carefully arranged scenes are encountered as if a scroll was being unfolded. Architecture and allusion are important aspects of these gardens.

The Huntington explains the garden’s name on their website:

The garden’s name, Liu Fang Yuan, has both literal and symbolic meanings. The words liu fang, or “flowing fragrance,” refer to the scent of flowers and trees, including the pine, lotus, plum, and other native Chinese plants found here. The Chinese poet Cao Zhi (192–232) first used the words in his “Rhapsody on the Luo River Goddess” to describe how the fragrance of flowers trailed in the goddess’s wake as she walked among the scented flora. And liu fang echoes the name of famed Ming dynasty painter Li Liufang (1575–1629), known for his refined landscapes.

Shown is an image from the Huntington’s site, of the Terrace of the Jade Mirror.

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