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Title: 'Breaking and repairing' : conflicting values in the historic gardens of China
Author: Gao, Lei
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 6088
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis is about the values embodied in gardens, as seen through an investigation of the conflicting values which have changed the position of China and Chinese historic gardens through the 20th century. The story starts from an imperial garden built in the early 18th century, Yuanmingyuan, where the Eastern and Western civilisations met, learned from and fought each other, all on the basis of their contrasted value systems. The conflict not only broke Yuanmingyuan, but also broke the Chinese imperial system as well as the traditional value system, generating a sequence of political movements and pushing the Chinese towards values that allow dialogue between sides (East and West, Tradition and Modern). The second story, about imperial altars, presents the conflict in values between Chinese modern and traditional beliefs. It examines two different regimes: the Republican and Nationalist eras in the first half of the century, and the Communist era which followed it, examining how they have interpreted the meanings of imperial altars, as radical materialisation moves to reformative cultural reconstruction. This story shows that long standing values are not easily replaced by modern ideologies. The third story, Suzhou gardens, is about the conflicting of values between individuals and the nation. It reveals how Suzhou gardens, which were established as a spiritual and physical home for Chinese literati, have been transformed into a national icon of Chinese garden art, only for today's Suzhou gardens to lose the essence of the culture which gave birth to them. The last story, about Huizhou gardens, focuses on the 21st century, when tourism supports local villagers in the restoration of their derelict gardens; but it is also a time in which China has promulgated heritage conservation principles which adopt an internationally validated spirit of authenticity and integrity. This is a story about the conflict between the values of modern conservation philosophy and of those of vernacular garden tradition, and how they have suppressed and contributed to the continuity of garden culture. By studying the changing of values through a series of conflicts and alterations, this thesis concludes that sustaining garden culture as a whole, rather than the conservation of a select few 'historic' or 'heritage' gardens, is better for the continuity of human tradition.
Supervisor: Woudstra, Jan Sponsor: University of Sheffield
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available