As previously mentioned, if the standards for a traditional Japanese garden or Chinese yuanlin are applied to the Korean residential setting, no garden form as such exists. Thus it is clearly necessary to adopt a completely different standard by which to define the gardens of Korea, and this standard might be termed the “uncultivated” garden. Based on this standard, traditional Korean gardens can be summarized as follows:
Inner Gardens Within the Residence
Prospect and borrowed scenery are the foundation upon which inner gardens (madang) are composed and have traditionally served as essential prerequisites in the selection of residential sites, though more as underlying factors than openly recognized conditions.
In the composition of the traditional Korean residence, open interior sp... >
As we have seen, the composition of residences in Choson Korea was directly influenced by Chinese Confucianist political thought, and we can safely conclude that the kind of garden often depicted in Chinese landscape paintings and based in the tradition of retirement from society, was not part of the yangban domestic environment. The only similar garden in the Korean tradition to these Chinese gardens was the pyobo environments surrounding the hermitages of the
Confucian scholars who lived in the mountains and forests.
Confucian scholars were men whose profession it was to read books. One fundamental precept of neo-Confucianism was that a person could achieve a higher level of virtue through reading and could thereby qualify for a role in government... >
Son’gyojang in Kangnting City, Kangwon Province, is a typical example of the yangban homes built in the provinces toward the end of the Choson period (in this case, a. d. 1816). In floor plan composition, it contains all the elements symbolic of the Korean upper classes at the time. Its outer garden, consisting of a lotus pond and a pavilion, lies outside the main gate on flat ground to the southwest of the outer wall of the residential compound, which is formed by the haengnagch’ae (Figures 115.1-115.3).
The lotus pond in Son’gyojang’s outer garden is square in shape and its walls are lined with quarried stone. The pavilion, called Hwallaejong, consists of an owiofheated wing and a wooden-floored wing, which cantilevers out over the pond... >
The area of open ground on the slope behind and north of the anch’ae is called the twitmadang, or the rear garden. It is sometimes located at the top of a series of stepped terraces.
The significance of this rear garden lies in its role as an exterior space for the leisure activities of the women and children of the household, who traditionally lived in the anch’ae and were forbidden to leave the residential compound without good reason. It was a very private space, which men—particularly men from outside the household—were not permitted to enter.
In contrast to the inner gardens, which are essentially bare of vegetation, the twitmadang may contain grass, shrubs, flowering trees, and fruit trees... >
In Korea it was traditionally believed that the majority of the design decisions involved in laying out a residence could be resolved simply by selecting a suitable site according to the geomantic principles of p’ungsu. The most desirable sites, known as myongdang land, were on southern slopes, as was mentioned earlier, with mountains behind them and rivers in front.
The taech’dng, with its open southern facade, is always
built on an elevated base with a raised wooden floor, and if there is a drawing room, or numaru, it is raised even higher. There are no fixed standards for how high above the ground each of these rooms should be. Perhaps the only criterion is that the floor should be set high enough for people sitting on it to enjoy the benefit of the view (Figure 110.1-110.3)... >
Borrowed scenery is, by Japanese standards, a natural element that forms the background of a picture plane in which the actual garden forms the foreground. In other words, borrowed scenery refers to the intentional incorporation of a distant scenic element—the actual focal point of the garden—against which a garden scene is created in the foreground to complement the greater effect. It is a technique whereby a garden of limited area is set against a feature of a distant natural scene, such as a mountain, to draw a sense of the infinite into a finite environment.
Take the garden of Jiko-in, near Nara, in which a panoramic scene is framed by the eaves and the veranda of the temple... >
Li-ji wu-yu refers to the way in which buildings are to be laid out on the site, and how they are to be constructed. As is indicated by the stipulation “1. Buildings, 2. Flowers and trees, 3. Water and rocks,” the location and position of the various buildings is given highest priority.
In Korea, on the other hand, the first step is selecting a site with suitable natural features, after which the layout of the buildings is determined so as to provide the best possible prospect (chomang) and borrowed scenery (ch’agydng).
The layout of buildings in a Chinese yuanlin seeks to achieve a reciprocal relationship between each building, creating mutual and intersecting views, whereas in Korea views from one building to another are deliberately avoided.
Screens (Ge) and Curves (Qu)
Ge and qu ... >
The most straightforward of motivations for making a garden is the desire to recreate nature as realistically as
possible within the particular limitations and conditions of a given space.
In the opinion of architect and historian Horiguchi Sutemi, “Only when the expression of a garden is such that it encompasses the space does the structure of the garden take on true expression. ‘Encompassing the space’ means going beyond ‘raw nature’—both the nature within and surrounding the garden—to create a ‘nature’ that everyone can see and enjoy.”1
To some extent, gardens have always been viewed by this measure alone... >
he closest Korean equivalent to the type of residence in China that would have its own ting yuan or yuan – lin is the estate of a yangban (civil or military official), and the factors governing the composition of a yangban residence have been examined in the previous chapter.
Although the traditional Chinese residence and the yangban residence differ in layout and form, the hall and courtyard composition of the former is much the same as, and corresponds to, the ch’ae and madang oithe latter.
The Korean madang is an outdoor extension of the adjacent taech’dng in the same way that a Chinese ting (courtyard) is an extension of the adjacent tang (central living room). The madang and ting both serve as functional work spaces, and as places where ceremonies are performed... >
The composition of the ch’ae interior space and madang garden of traditional Korean dwellings corresponds fairly closely to the hall and courtyard composition in traditional Chinese residences.
In the same way as a Korean ch’ae consists of pang and taech’dng (or шаги), with the taech’dng open to the madang garden, the halls of Chinese dwellings are composed of private rooms and communal living rooms, or tang., which open onto the yuanzi or tianjing courtyard. In other words, in both Korea and China, the courtyard “garden” serves as an outdoor extension of the adjoining room, and is in no way an ornamental garden for viewing from indoors.
The tang of a Beijing siheyuan has doors on its southern facade, with several steps leading down to the yuanzi... >