Located between Luxun Road and Yan’an Road in downtown Shaoxing, Shen’s Garden was originally a private garden of Shen’s Family with land area of 57mu and was a famous garden in Jiangnan in Song Dynasty. Now, it is a cultural relic under provincial protection. Legend has it that Lu You, the great patriotic poet in Southern Song Dynasty, firstly married Tang Wan. The couples were in deep conjugal love and were forced to break up. In 21st year of Shaoxing period, they met in Shen’s Garden. Upset and disappointed, Lu You inscribed a poem with rhythm of “Phoenix Hairpin” on the wall of the garden to express his grieve of parting. After reading the poem, Tang Wan replied with a sad and affectionate poem. Shortly after that, she was died of depression. The poems have become eternal masterpieces through the ages. Lu You was sorry for this all his rest life and visited the garden repeatedly and composed over dozen poems in the garden. Shen’s Garden was thus well known and recorded in classics due to the miserable love story.
At present, Shen’s Garden is mainly composed of three parts, i.e. the historic site area, the east garden and the south garden and include ten scenic spots, i.e. Sad Melody of Broken Cloud, Expressing Affection with Poems, Spring Wave Startling Gooses, Writing Eternal Regret on Broken Wall, Plaintive Whine of Lonely Crane, Green Lotus Leave Glittering in Sunlight, Seeking for Plum Blossom in Snow, Drifting Fragrance of Inks from Poem Album and Conveying Tender Feeling through Magpie Bridge.
The whole garden is elegant, poetic simple and antique and represents the features of “extreme prevailing ponds and terraces” in Song Dynasty. It is an integration of Shaoxing Historic Culture and classic gardening art and is a famous garden known for ingenious integration of humanities and nature in Jiangnan.
Wall Inscribed with Lyrics of “Phoenix Hairpin”
In the 14th year of Shaoxing reign, 20-year old Lu You married his younger cousin Tang Wan. At that time, Lu You was a handsome and talent man and Tang Wan was a beautiful and virtuous girl with good knowledge of poems and lyrics. The couples were congenial and deeply in love with each other. Maybe because Lu You was too attached to his wife to be interested in pursuing scholarly honor or official rank after marriage, or maybe Tang Wan failed to give birth to any child, Lu You’s mother forced his son to Porce Tang Wan only two years after the marriage. Lu You deeply regret for the tragedy marriage all his life.
According to the “Record of Prosperous East Capital”, private gardens had to be opened to the public from the first day of the third month to the eighth day of the fourth month in lunar calendar every year, Shen’s Garden was no exception. In 21st year of Shaoxing period, 27-year old Lu You went to Shen’s Garden for spring outing in a sunny spring day and met Tang Wan by chance. Tang Wan assigned a boy servant to treat Lu You with wine and snacks. In retrospect, Lu You was full of mixed emotions and wrote the following lyrics of “Phoenix Hairpin” on the wall of Shen’s Garden.
Pink hands so fine, gold-brand wine. Spring paints the willows green palace walls cannot confine. East wind unfair, happy times rare, In my heart sad thoughts throng. We’ve severed for years long, Wrong, wrong, wrong! Spring is as green. In vain she’s lean, her kerchief soaked with tears and red with stains unclean. Peach blossoms fall, near deserted hall. Our oath is still there, No word to her can go. No, No,No!
At that time, Lu You had already married his second wife Wang from Sichuan and Tang Wan was married to Zhao Shicheng, who enjoyed high literary reputation. The oath still resounded in ear, but everything had changed in reality. The two in love cannot write letter to each other and only signed no, no, no. It was said that Tang Wan was sentimental over the lyrics and replied with another lyrics in rhythm of “Phoenix Hairpin”
The world callous, and people mean. Rain at twilight hasten flowers fall. Morning wind dry, smeared tears stains. Letters about heartaches, soliloquyes by the balustrade. Hard, hard, hard! Everyone for himself, today not yesterday, ghost of sickness like swing ropes haunts. Horns chilling, night receding. Scared of people inquiring, swallowing tears and to look merry pretending. Hide, hide, hide!
After the encounter in Shen’s Garden that day, Tang Wan could not fall asleep all night along. She could not pour out her deep yearning for her beloved to anybody, but only swallowed tears and pretended to be happy to hide her love and hate. 8 years later, Tang Wan died of depression at age of 30.
Lu You Memorial Hall
Lu You Memorial Hall is located on the south side of the Historic Site Area of Shen’s Garden and is composed of Lu You Historic Achievement, Stele Corridor, Wuguan Hall and Sculpture. The memorial hall displays a large number of Lu You’s original handwriting, photos, paintings, rare books, rubbings and physical models to reflect Lu You’s patriotism and distress for people’s suffering and his splendid achievement as a an eminent writer. The exhibition include three parts: Part I Great Patriotic Aspiration ; Part II: Pure Love for Hometown; Part III Tragic Love Story
Old Fashion Night Tour
The family retainers of Shen’s Garden will greet and welcome tourists at the wharf. Tourists may be gifted coins of Song Dynasty by showing the ticket and use the coins to exchange for local snacks. Tourists may experience night fair in Song Dynasty while waiting for the garden to be opened. Then, they may experience the garden opening ceremony of rich and influential families in Song Dynasty and visit the garden at the company of the butlers; appreciate the sad but beautiful love story between Lu You, the patriotic poet of Song Dynasty, and his younger cousin Tang Wan in the romantic setting of fragrant flowers, bright moon, light shadow and aroma of wine; watch the ancient style household performance of “Romance in Shen’s Garden” to experience the strong local culture of Shaoxing.