the WEST LAKE CULTURAL
LANDSCAPE
of HANGZHOU
China

the WEST LAKE CULTURAL
LANDSCAPE
of HANGZHOU
China



West Lake


This detail of an ink painting shows West Lake in the 14th century. It remains a quiet source of inspiration, just outside Hangzhou, on China’s southeast coast. The West Lake area is surrounded by mountains on three sides. In all seasons, the harmonious relationship between people and nature has been an inspiration to poets, artists, and gardeners from all over China, for over a thousand years. The ornamental gardens and built structures - temples, pagodas, causeways and artificial islands - work together to create a beautiful fusion of human and natural elements.

The image below is a detail of a handscroll that is over 15 meters (51 feet) in length. For more views visit the scroll's page at the Freer Gallery of Art.

westlake scroll

Scenic Attractions of West Lake

Li Song, late 12th-early 13th century
Medium:Ink and color on paper
14th century
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Smithsonian Institution


Poetry


Famous poets like Bai Juyi (772–846) not only found inspiration in the natural setting, they also served as governors, protecting the West Lake area (formerly known as Oiantang) as a model of traditional Chinese ideals, emphasizing humanity’s role as part of nature, not separate from it.


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Visit to Qiantang Lake in Spring

Bai Juyi

Gushan Temple is to the north, Jiating pavilion west,
The water's surface now is calm, the bottom of the clouds low.
In several places, the first orioles are fighting in warm trees,
By every house new swallows peck at spring mud.
Disordered flowers have grown almost enough to confuse the eye,
Bright grass is able now to hide the hooves of horses.
I most love the east of the lake, I cannot come often enough
Within the shade of green poplars on White Sand Embankment.

This work is licensed CC BY 3.0. www.chinese-poems.com/bo.html

west lake

Faungg/CC BY-ND 2.0, BY-NC 3.0


west lake

Keso CN (via Fotopedia)/CC BY-NC 3.0

The Present


Tide Watching

Tide-Watching on West Lake: Project for China Academy of Art. Hangzhou, 2003

Artist: Cai Guo-Qiang, Chinese, b. Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, 1957
Gunpowder on Paper
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Smithsonian Institution
Museum purchase through a gift from Paul and Anastasia Polydoran in honor of James Demetrion, 2005


west lake pagoda

Faungg/CC BY-ND 2.0

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Download the Stories of World Heritage App


Discover ten stories from UNESCO’s World Heritage List: The list of the most outstanding natural and cultural sites in the world.


Hear what locals and visitors have to say about the beauty and importance of 10 of the world’s most outstanding natural and cultural sites from UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Have you visited any of them, or would you like to? Add your voice to the conversation through this app!

Download for iPhone

Share and listen on the go. No matter where you are in the world, you can participate in the conversation through our iPhone app. Download from iTunes today.


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