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Publication . Article . 2020

From ‘Arcadia of the Literati’ to ‘Extravagant Enclosure’: The Tianjin Salt Merchant Gardens of the Qing Dynasty

Yichi Zhang;
Open Access
Published: 27 May 2020
This article examines a largely unexplored component of China’s classical garden system – the gardens of salt merchants in Tianjin during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1911). Beyond existing works, which tend to focus on imperial and scholar gardens – gardens of the ruling elites – this examination of merchant gardens contributes to garden history by revealing that merchants created gardens to improve their low social status. It further reveals shifts in the functions, architectural design and flora of the gardens which reflects both individual aesthetics and the changing fortunes of Tianjin’s salt merchants in general. Salt merchant gardens in Tianjin initially presented idyllic scenery to create literary-based, self-immersed spaces. Then beginning in the 1720s, they evolved into a showcase of rising merchant power displaying affluence, thereby enabling merchants to improve their social rank. Finally, from the 1840s, salt merchant gardens gradually became extravagant enclosures as the collapse of the established social structure unfolded.
Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Arcadia biology.organism_classification biology China Enclosure Ancient history History


Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law, Nature and Landscape Conservation, General Environmental Science, Geography, Planning and Development

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38 references, page 1 of 4

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