China Suzhou attractions, Master of the Nets Garden introduced.

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Master of the Nets Garden

The Master of the Nets Garden or Wangshi Yuan is among the finest gardens in China. Recognized with nine other Suzhou gardens as United Nations World Heritage sites, it demonstrates Chinese garden designers’ adept skills for synthesizing art, nature, and architecture to create unique metaphysical masterpieces. While the initial garden was first constructed over 800 years ago and its physical form has changed drastically since, the name and spirit of the garden remain intact. 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. While the garden’s primary uses have varied over time, its ability to inspire visitors intellectually and spiritual remains unchanged. Keen physical architecture combined with poetic and artistic inspirations makes the Master of the Nets garden a unique and incredible garden experience that has stood the test of time.


The garden has an area of 0.6 hectare. The eastern part consists of residential quarters, while the gardens are located in the western part. The residential area consists of: the entrance hall, the sedan-chair hall, the major hall (also called the Hall of Ten Thousand Volumes), a two story Hall of Captured Grace and a back yard. In the garden of the western part there is a limped central pond surrounded by pavilions and towers adorned with sturdy rocks, trees, and flowering shrubs. These represent sceneries from several seasons. In the west most part is a court with the Peony Cottage study rooms offering exquisite views, which have been used to model the “Ming Hall” in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This Ming Hall is used in creating an area of display for Ming Dynasty artifacts.



The Master of the Nets garden was first constructed in 1140 AD by the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279) government official Shi Zhengzhi. Then named the Fisherman’s Retreat (Yuyin), it was inspired by the simple and solitary life of a Chinese fisherman. The garden subsequently fell into disarray until six centuries later it was restored by Song Zongyuan, a retired government official of the Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period (1735 – 1796). He drastically redesigned the garden and added multiple buildings, but retained the humble spirit of the site when renaming it the Master of the Nets. Qu Yuancun, a scholar well-versed in the classics and literature, is said to have next modified the garden during the eighteenth century, adding and remodeling buildings, planting trees, and arranging stones. Over the years, the Master of the Nets garden continued to be updated numerous times as ownership changed, but the name, spirit, and splendor remained constant. During the late 18th century it was recognized for its herbaceous peonies and during the early 20th century it served as the studio of the celebrated landscape painter Zhang Daquin. He Yanong was the final private owner of the Master of the Nets garden before it became public property in 1958.


Among all the gardens in Suzhou, the Master of the Nets Garden is considered the most "balanced" in terms of its use of water, rocks, plants, and timber.