The Lingering Garden is located at the outer side of the Chang Gate of , China. It was built in 1593 by a retired imperial official Xu Taishi and called it the East Garden at that time. After he died, the Lingering Garden had been neglected for a very long time. In 1794, Liu Shu became the owner of it. His workers and servants spent four years to repair and renovate the garden.
|Lingering Garden: one of the Top Ten Gardens in China|
They planted many white pines and bamboo trees, which made the entire garden a "cold" appearance, so the locals called the East Garden as the "Cold Green Villa" (Hanbi Shanzhuang) or the
Liu's Garden. Liu Shu loved calligraphy and odd stones very much. He carved many of his writings on the walls of the garden's corridors and collected a lot of strange-shaped stones. The odd, artificial hills carved with characters you can see today are by this great man!
The unrest and battles in 1860 set a big fire to the Suzhou city, but the Cold Green Garden survived the damage. In 1873 the garden was bought by Sheng Kang. Greatly repaired and expanded, Sheng changed its name to
Liuyuan, the Lingering Garden, because Liu, the surname of the former master, is pronounced the same as the word "lingering" in Chinese. Since then, the Lingering Garden has been famous among classical gardens in China.
However, during the China's war years, the Liuyuan has been abandoned for so long. The Chinese government decided to rejuvenate the whole garden in 1953. In 1997, the Lingering Garden, together with the
Humble Administrator, the Master of Net Gardens and Huanxiu Villa enlisted the UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage.
Today the Lingering Garden covers an area of 23,000 sq. m. Its architectural style is mainly from the Qing Dynasty of China. Diverse in scenery, majestic in rockwork and specious in buildings, the garden is an ideal for an urban retreat from crowded places.
Pingtan is an old form of art, exactly a classic kind of narration and singing performed in the dialect of Wu accent, which is quite similar to Kunqu, the local time-honored opera listed in Masterpieces of UNESCO Intangible and Oral Heritage of Humanity. Pingtan is as old as Kunqu, and the only difference between them is the circle of lovers and the scope of influence. Pingtan is a folk art deeply and extensively loved by the grassroots or low-level people, so generally, Pingtan belongs to the folk culture of China. The opposite of Pingtan is Kunqu, which is exclusively loved by social elites in traditional society due to its characteristics of elegance and bookish line
The Lingering Garden of Suzhou belonging to a site of World Heritage, and it is quite suitable for the performance surrounding of Pingtan and Kunqu opera. It classic environment and the elegant architectural complex offer the performers a large room to show the charm of Pingtan and Kunqu opera. So today, visitors to Lingering Garden of Suzhou can also enjoy the performance of Pingtan performer who sitting in boat and holding a pipa. The performer usually is a beautiful girl and she is playing pingtan when the boat is moving on the water. The charming girl wearing the traditional garment always attracts many listeners and audiences. Enjoying Kunqu opera is also another highlights in Lingering Garden, there is a small platform of opera performing some classic stories, but the most welcomed program is still Mu Dan Ting or The Peony Pavilion. The time interval of Kunqu opera performance is nearly 40 minutes.