CASE 3:  Culture and International Relations in the 18th Century

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For example, in the eighth century, the famous poet, painter, and official Wang Wei (701–61 AD) depicted his garden estate called the Wangchuan Villa. Wangchuan means “Wheel-Rim River,” and the garden was named after the local river that encircled the land like the rim of a wheel. He tried to represent each important building and place in this garden, and he also wrote poems about each scene that became classics of the genre. His painting was copied many times and was widely circulated. Later, it was engraved in stone, and inexpensive rubbings on paper were taken that further disseminated the views of his famous garden. Another garden owner who had illustrations of his garden made was Wang Tingna, who lived during the early seventeenth century. Wang’s Garden of Sitting In Reclusion had a complex design. He, like Wang Wei, liked to invite friends to visit so he could show his garden to them. Even tourists were welcome. Wang Tingna had a well-known painter depict the scene and then had an engraver transfer the picture to wood blocks. Because he was the owner of a publishing business, printing copies was not difficult. The prints were probably given to friends and almost might have been sold to tourists as souvenirs. The illustrations of gardens for both Wang Wei and Wang Tingna were in the form of handscrolls, which are unrolled from right to left, which allowed for the garden to be shown scene by scene. The handscroll was unrolled only a section at a time to let your eyes roam among the buildings and landscape, just as if you were walking through the place in real life.

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