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The Design of Tang Imperial Gardens: Tradition, Creativity and Symbolization

Bo Jiang, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Fellow 2007/08

Being able to study at Dumbarton Oaks for the 2007–2008 academic year was a great experience for me. While staying at Dumbarton Oaks, I valued special opportunities for interacting with scholars interested in landscape and garden archaeology, and I devoted much time to deepening my understanding of Western approaches to garden studies. The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, as well as the Library of Congress and the Freer & Sackler Museum Library, were very helpful for my studies not only on Chinese gardens but also on gardens around the world. My understanding of Tang imperial gardens, which was previously based mostly on archaeological discoveries, has broadened to include visual arts materials and literary sources. This was first expressed in the research report, Archaeological Discoveries of Tang Imperial Gardens, that I gave at Dumbarton Oaks on December 10, 2007.         

I was invited, as a Dumbarton Oaks fellow, to give talks on Chinese garden archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis (Palace, Altar and Garden: New Discoveries of Tang Dynasty Archaeology), the University of Michigan (Garden Design and Ritual Practice: The Meandering Stream for Floating Wine Cup), and the University of Bristol (The Made Nature: An Archaeological Perspective on Tang Gardens).

During this academic year, I also visited several garden sites and historical places such as Williamsburg, Jamestown, Longwood Gardens, and Hestercombe Gardens (UK). Such field visits helped broaden my understanding of Western gardens.

Finally, please let me express my heartfelt thanks to the director and staff of Dumbarton Oaks.

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