China Living Color: Scholar's Garden By samantha tsai

What did you experience?

I went to the Scholar’s Garden and Astor Court in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the time I went to the museum there was a live performance celebrating the lunar new year. There was a woman singing, a woman playing a guzheng, a man playing a flute and another man playing the drums. The back room was closed off but we were able to ask a staff member to let us quickly take pictures of the room. The middle of the room was occupied by the performers and the crowd filled up the room. Around the room there were plants, rocks and windows. On the left side there was a tall structure with a rock inside it and a small pond.


There were some signs of Confucianism in the exhibit. The audience had to give the performers their attention to keep the performer's face (mian zi). We also had to respect the performer and audience relationship by clapping. On the side of the room there was a large structure that was supposed to represent a moon viewing terrace. Moon viewing terraces are a good place for practicing li (ritual) because they are used as a meeting place for friends.


The exhibit displayed multiple signs of Taoism. In the corner of the garden there was a small pond with coy fish in it and plants surrounding it. The water represented wu wei and going with the flow. The water also represented yin because it was dark, soft, yielding, wet and cool. The rocks around the room represented yang because they were bright, solid, hard, dry and hot. The ceiling was made out of glass to let natural light in and to be closer to nature.

Why should other eighth graders have this experience?

Other eighth graders should have this experience because it was very fun and interesting to be in an indoor garden. I also experienced chinese opera music but other people may not have this opportunity. It was a fun challenge to try to connect the exhibit to Confucianism and Taoism.

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