LC China: The Met by: Helena Yang

The Experience:

For this unit, I decided to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to explore more about ancient China. So along with a few friends, we went to the Scholars Garden and Astor Court. It was wonderful exploring the Met, and the courtyard was cool to venture around. While we were there, there was a Chinese opera singer, and we really enjoyed the performance. The courtyard is very interesting, with many objects around. We took many pictures. We learned a lot about a scholar's way of life in ancient China.


Stepping through the moon gate, we found ourselves in a courtyard. Looking around, the first thing we spotted is a pond. A small fish pound with water and fishes in it, surrounded by stones.

The first thing that comes to mind is water, and how it flows throughout the pound. A representation of wu wei. Looking around, we noticed that there are stones everywhere. Not just around the pond, but there are just stones on display. We later discovered that rocks are an important symbolic and compositional element in the Chinese garden. This brings us to Yin and Yang. Yin represents dark, void, soft, yielding, wet, and cool. Yang represents bright, solid, hard, unyielding, dry, and hot. These properties are complete opposites, yet exists in complete harmony with each other. The pond is cool and wet, but the stones are solid and hard. The garden is very open, for the master to have all sorts of gatherings with his friends. The scholar's retreat is a place where he can work, while having the view of the garden.

Since the courtyard is called a garden, theres many plants. The roof of the entire garden is glass, giving everyone an open space. The walls and windows are used as an illusion to represent the concept of space beyond space. The plants makes us feel closer to nature and be one with it. While we were there, there was a performance of a traditional Chinese opera singer singing. I think this performance represents a ceremony to me, relating to the Confucius concept Li. This is also a part of the master's entertainment.

We got to take a look inside the scholar's retreat, and seeing the furniture tells us a lot about their way of life back then. Closets like what we have now did not exist back then. Instead, they used these large wardrobes to store clothing. The table and the chairs are used for sitting and chatting with another person. You can see that wood is used a lot. There are 4 different types of wood used for Astor Court. The Chinese used wood a lot because they think wood is pretty and they like the color. Some precious wood is very expensive. There's also wood plaques at the top of a room, usually at the entrance. It says the room's name.

Why You Should Choose This Experience:

Going to The Metropolitan Museum of Art is easy. The tickets are pay what you wish. You can go alone or with a group of friends. It is a museum, so you have a lot of time to explore the area. There are many signs all around giving explanations to each of the objects and the connections to the modern world. This helps you understand the place well. The Met is a very educational museum. The Astor Court and the Scholar's Garden has many signs of legacy and representations of concepts. Take many pictures for later use, they will be helpful for information. This experience is great, and it has taught me many things about ancient Chinese culture, and I understood it better.

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