Metropolitan Museum of Art Experience Created by Sofia jiang

*The pictures I did not cite, I took.

In this experience, I visited the Astor Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As I first saw the Astor Court, the circular entrance has two lions guarding the front. This entrance to the garden is called a moon gate because it's round like the moon. There are two benches on opposite sides each with a small window view of a plant. When I walked farther down I could see a garden that has the aesthetics of a natural place. This courtyard was inspired by one created in China nearly 400 years ago. There is a temple/gazebo like structure with rocks and plants surrounding it. The rocks in this garden are called scholars' rocks. They inspired scholars at their desks and in their gardens. Craftsmen arranged the rocks her to look like the Chinese character for mountain (shan). The inside of the structure has a dark grey statue and three Chinese characters on a plaque against the wall. The plants are balanced side by side of the structure and to the left of it there is a miniature waterfall. The calming sound of the water rushing down from the waterfall can be heard all around the room.

On the roof, The design on the tiles shows the Chinese character for long life, or shou, with coins and squares that stand for wealth and good fortune. When rain falls on the tiles it drips these "three happinesses" down onto the garden and the people below.

This is a legacy of ancient China because it recreates what a scholar's garden what have been like. The people who wandered here was Chinese scholars. Chinese scholars were educated men who respected for knowing their culture's traditions. Being close to nature was important to them. A team of craftsmen traveled from China to New York City to build it. They brought all the materials they needed and didn't use a single nail in their construction. Rocks are an important ant symbolic and compositional element in the Chinese garden. The Chinese word for landscape is shanshui, meaning literally "mountains and water." There are also many aspects of the garden that represent principles of Daoism and Confucianism, which are philosophies and religions of China.

An example of a daoist philosophy shown in the garden is Ying and Yang. There is a harmonious balance of light and dark, water and earth, unmoving and moving, etc. Another example is Unmanifest Tao. One of the principles of Chinese garden design is the use of walls and openings to create the illusion of space beyond space. The Unmanifest Tao is seeing what you can't see or touch but what you know is present. The small waterfall is in the corner is representing Wu wei, because it is showing that you should follow the course of nature and where nature brings you. Instead of swimming against the current or letting the current drag you around, you should swim with the current. Finally, the entire room has a nature-like feel to it. There is a waterfall, plants, and rocks. Four kinds of wood were used in the astor court; ginkgo, camphor, fir, and nan wood.

Not only are there multiple Daoist principles shown in the Astor Court, there are also many Confuciast concepts depicted as well. Behind the garden, there is a study which relates to Confucianism because it is encouraging self-cultivation. The study is facing the garden and has multiple wooden desks. It is very simple with some geometric designs. The person using the study is trying to acquire more knowledge and make themselves better. By studying or reading it is making them wiser, and wisdom is part of the five virtues a Confucianist must follow. They are all studying to be junzis. As they interact with each other, they are following li; which is having etiquette and being polite. Finally, the scholars or the people communicating in the garden are following the five great relationships (friend/friend) or if they are interacting with the it family then the (husband/wife or elder brother/younger brother).

I highly recommend a future eighth grader to visit the Astor Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's unlike any other exhibit, with it's calm, serene background; it takes you away from the hustle bustle of New York City and transports you into a whole other world. The Astor Court is modeled just like a real life Scholar's Garden, so if you never travel to China you can get a taste of what it's like right here. You can also learn so much about Daoism and Confucianism just by looking at your surroundings. Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and I learned a lot about the legacy of ancient China and how it connects to the principles of Daoism and Confucianism.


Created with images by rpongsaj - "Astor Court"

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