Master of Nets Garden

Master of the Nets Garden, Suzhou

Master of the Nets Garden, Suzhou by Derek Harkness. Sourced via Flickr under All rights reserved.

This garden may be not the largest in Suzhou but the Master of Nets Garden is one of the most famous and most beautiful. First constructed in 1140 by Shi Zhengzhi, the garden was originally called "Ten Thousand Volume Hall". Shi hengzhi took his inspiration from teh simple and solitary life of a Chinese fisherman as described in Chinese classical writing. The garden later fell to neglect but was restored in 1785 by Song Zongyuan - a Qing dynasty goverment official. He redesigned the garden and added many buildings but kept the original spirit. It was he who gave the garden the current name "Master of the Nets". In 1795, Qu Yuancun, a new owner, made some more additions and alterations which were highly acclaimed. The gardens passed on to Li Hongyi in 1886. He was a skilled calligrapher and about half the steles in the garden bear his inscriptions. By 1940, the garden had become the property of He Chang. His will stated the garden should be given to the government and in 1958 his daughter, He Zehui donated the garden to Suzhou.

The garden covers 5,400 square metres. The eastern section is mainly residential buildings while the western section is the garden proper. The garden style is to have small buildings set close to or overhanging the pond to give a feeling of intimacy. Larger buildings are set back from the pond and partly obscured behind trees to give an illusion of depth and space.

Map showing location of Master of Nets Garden

Above: Location of Master of Nets Garden in Suzhou, Jiangsu, China