Gardens are sites that can be at one and the same time admired works of art and valuable pieces of real estate, and this study places the practices of garden-making in China during the Ming dynasty (1369-1644) in the social and cultural history of the day. Who owned gardens? Who visited them? How were they represented in words, in paintings and in visual culture generally, and what meanings did these representations hold at different levels of Chinese society? Drawing on a wide range of recent work in cultural theory, the author provides an historical and materialist account of Chinese garden culture, and a picture of the garden's role in social life.
Craig Clunas is Percival David Chair of Chinese Art at SOAS, London. He has published extensively on the culture of the Ming period and is the author of Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (Reaktion, 1997) and Elegant Debts: The Social Art of Wen Zhengming (Reaktion, 2004).