The Grand Canal Diary 4

26 05 2011

By Jing Wang

The Intangible Culture in the Tangible Designs

The traditional patterns are used in various ways in this old city. It is easy to find these traditional elements in windows, pavement, gates, walls, clothes, embroidery, hand fan and so on. These elements are reminding you every minute that you are in Suzhou. All of these patterns come from the traditional culture, and they represent different good wishes. The meaning of these patterns could be seen as a kind of language, which could be understood by the local people.


The Suzhou Museum designed by Ieoh Ming Pei is next to the Humble Administrator’s Garden (Zhuo Zheng Yuan), which is the most famous garden in Suzhou. This museum is an innovative mark bridging Chinese architectural culture from the tradition to the future. The traditional elements and color are used in a modern way, but the local temperament also could be felt from these buildings.





2 responses

28 05 2011

Its is a very interesting observation, which at one point of time, was knowledge. expanding what i am trying to say is that, in the civilization era, these patterns were rather symbols symbolizing a tribe, a dynasty a caste, a warrior group etc. these symbols had hidden meanings to them. It is now that when the symbols have become an integrated part of the History books, we call them patterns.
Well some of them could be because we all are aware that the different art movement brought in a certain symbols and ‘patterns’.
I wish the old tradition is brought back and one starts relating the patterns with a meaningful purpose than just being a part of aesthetic presentation.

3 06 2011

I visited this museum in 2006, I quite like it! Chinese architects always try to find a way to design the buildings with traditional and morden elements. The Suzhou Museum is an great example for the designers.

Inheriting civilization of a nation dose not mean only copying the traditional forms of the architectures and cities. The most important thing is find out the national spiritual elements of them!

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