The Astor Chinese Garden Court Ally August - Living color - Dr Brooks


The Astor Garden Court was created in 1981 and was modeled as a scholar’s courtyard from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). This exhibit consists of a garden and a study. The garden is filled with Taiku rocks and an assortment of trees and or bushes. The study or court would have been a place for students to study or have education filled conversations in a much more simpler environment.

My Experience

For the living color project I went to the Astor Garden Court located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Originally when I walked in I was a bit stunned. I had never seen anything like this before in a museum. The architecture of the walls and the placement of the rocks and plants. I walked around and soon noticed a study towards the back of this room. In the study there were places for scholars to do acedemic work. This was a simple but intricate two roomed exhibit that showed you a physical way to learn about Confucian and Daoist environments.

The Garden

Throughout the garden there are a numerous amount of rocks scattered with a different variety of shrubs and plants here and there. All of the rocks have an extreme appearance of erosion and look very untouched. Which is Wu Wei, the Daoist concept of going with the flow of life and nature. The rocks are eroded and plants growing all around the garden they each look very unaltered. Rocks are an important symbolic element to a Chinese garden. They are placed and piled very specifically to represent mountains and streams. Together they combine and create the Yin (dark and wet) and Yang (bright and dry). Yin and Yang is the balance between two opposites Traditional Chinese gardens express the concepts of yin and yang through the arrangement of contrasting elements. Everything located in the garden is natural and untouched. The garden is the way that Daoist look at life, much more about going with the flow and letting nature lead your path.

The Study

The study represents how important education was to all Confucians. In this room people would come together and educate each other or oneself. It was a much simpler quiet place for scholars to study. Where as the garden was much busier and could have been distracting. Throughout the room there were a few chairs and desks for students to have conversations or be deep into their studies. The architecture is very unique there are open windows and specifically designed walls to make gave the feeling of a very spacious room.

Why I Recomend this Experience for a Future Eighth Grader

A future 8th grader would enjoy this experience, because it is a very simple and fascinating way to look at Confucian and Daoist terms in a form of art. It is a very beautiful two roomed exhibit that illustrates the concepts of harmony, balance and education that both philosophies hold at the center. Coming to this museum exhibit would also be a nice change of pace and scenery for almost all of these new eighth graders. In my experience, I thought that looking at rooms and dividing the explanation into key Confucianism and Taoism was an straightforward task. It was a very visual and physical experience that I most definitely recommend.

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