Chang An 长安, The City of Eternal Peace Part. 4 Parks, Gardens, and Pools
Aside from its wide avenues and many temples, Chang An was known for its many beautifully maintained parks. The government and palace buildings had their own walled compounds, and there were even areas for the use of visiting foreign embassies. Many of the walled wards of Chang An had their own orchard- gardens with artificial lakes and running streams, but the named great public parks were marvels on to themselves.
Parks of Chang An highlighted- the "Western" park (North, center) lies directly north of the
Sui era palace enclosures. The northern section of the Daming palace was an imperial park
that was dominated by the circular Taiye Lake. There are two prominent
parks to the east of the city, the Xingqing Palace (along the eastern
wall of the city) and the massive Eastern park to the southeast of the
There were five transport and sanitation canals running throughout the city, which had several water sources, and delivered water to city parks, gardens of the rich, and the grounds of the imperial palaces. The sources of water came from a stream running through the Imperial Park in the north and under the northern city wall, two running streams from outside the city in the south, a stream that fed into the pond of the walled East Park, which in turn fed into a canal that led to the inner city.
These canal waterways in turn streamed water into the ponds of the West Palace; the lake in the Xingqing Palace on the eastern walls connected two canals running through the city. The canals were also used to transport crucial goods throughout the city, such as charcoal and firewood in the winter.
In the southeast corner of the city was a massive pleasure garden with a lake, lotus ponds, flower gardens, hills, meadows and pavilions. Like the Daming Palace- its sheer size was immense and it was open to the public. There, people could enjoy the natural beauty of the expanse, boat on the lake, see festivals and shows put on by the emperor when colorful tents were set up for banquets and orchestras. A massive lake dominated the western side of the park.
WESTERN (IMPERIAL) PARK
To the northwest outskirt of the city- behind the imperial palace was an exclusive imperial park where a cherry orchard, a pear Garden, a vineyard, and fields for playing popular sports such as horse polo and cuju (ancient Chinese football). On the northwest section of the main outer wall there were three gates leading out to the imperial park.
It is characteristic of the robust and cosmopolitan spirit of the period that one of the favorite pastimes of its aristocratic ladies and gentlemen was polo, a game which originated in Persia. The participation of women in such athletic activities and their fondness for riding are worth emphasizing in the light of the very different ethos that was to prevail in post-Tang times.
Aside from the elaborate series of pavilions and gardened retreats there were also wide fields for playing popular sports such as horse polo and cuju (ancient Chinese football)
Late Tang women with prominent golden hairpins- Above: Late Tang noble women from the murals of Dunhuang. Below: Early Song dynasty earring.
As such, women of the Tang Dynasty were fortunate to live at a time characterized by open-mindedness and liberal ideas. Tang noble women had the chance to learn history, politics, and even athletic skills. At the founding of this dynasty, Princess Pingyang personally participated in battles, having led a detachment of women to help her father, Emperor Gaozu. Princess Taiping, daughter of Emperor Gaozong, twice suppressed mutinies inside the imperial court at critical times.
The imperial clan's last name of Li
There were other illustrious gardens in the city as well beside the giant parks. The Hanlin Academy (Hanlin yuan) literally: "Brush Wood Court" was founded in 725 CE by Emperor Xuanzong as a place of study for scholars, artists, writers, and astrologers. In time, Hanlin would become synonymous with an elite institution of scholars. Meanwhile, the Pear Garden became a celebrated training school for actors, singers, and dancers.
CHANG AN TOPICS
PART 1: CHANG AN OVERVIEW
PART 2: LAYOUT AND CITY WALL
PART 3: DAMING PALACE
PART 4: GARDENS & POOLS
PART 5: A CITY OF TEMPLES
PART 6: WESTERN CHANG AN MARKET
PART 7: EASTERN CHANG AN LEISURE
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