On day six of our China adventure we travelled by bus from Hangzhou to Suzhou, our first stop was at the Master of the Nets garden which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The garden demonstrates Chinese garden designers’ adept skills for synthesising art, nature, and architecture to create unique masterpieces which explore the fundamental question regarding the nature of concepts such as being, existence and reality. The Master of the Nets is particularly regarded among garden connoisseurs for its mastering the techniques of relative dimension, contrast, foil, sequence and depth, and borrowed scenery.
The Master of the Nets garden, originally called Ten Thousand Volume Hall, was first constructed in 1140 by Shi Zhengzhi the Deputy Civil Service Minister of the Southern Song Dynasty government who was inspired by the simple and solitary life of a Chinese fisherman depicted in philosophical writings. After his death the garden passed through various owners, subsequently falling into disarray until around 1785 when it was restored by Song Zongyuan, a retired government official of the Qing Dynasty who drastically redesigned the garden and added multiple buildings, while retaining the spirit of the site.