The city so prosperous: Episodes of urban life in Suzhou
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AbstractViews are the most direct means to re-configure the images of cities. Despite the cultural differences in nations of the occidental and oriental worlds, their painters and cartographers have had a strong inclination to illustrate cities as they once appeared. To understand Siena, the medieval town and its citizens' collective wishes, one could hardly overlook Ambrogio Lorenzetti's fresco of the images of Buon Governo and Mal Governo in its Palazzo Pubblico. Similarly, if one wants to understand the social and urban lives of Suzhou, China, in the eighteenth century, examining the scroll painting. Prosperous Suzhou, by Xu Yang, 1759 AD, is most revealing. The painter of Prosperous Suzhou employed the scattered perspective technique to reconstruct the urban scenes in a continual visual itinerary. The images were structured upon a coherent naturalistic setting in which the essence of urban life was vividly depicted through the overlays of orchestrated events. Sharing some common characteristics of Lorenzetti's fresco. Prosperous Suzhou, in describing the city, however, translated the Chinese concept of layering in time and space most fluently into a flattened mental picture for the viewers. In this paper, I will focus on reading the urban scenes of Suzhou in the mid-eighteenth century from the scroll with reference to the surveyed cartographic records of the same period. At the same time, the techniques in representing these images and their relationships with the Chinese perception of space and time will be investigated. As a chain of memories captured in the views along the scroll, the urban experiences in Suzhou will be decoded and interpreted. By re-knitting these narratives, it is intended to trace the multiple layers of meanings in Panofsky's iconological terms so as to understand, then reconstruct, the urban values and intrinsic orders in the city of Suzhou. © 2000 The Journal of Architecture.
All Author(s) ListHung W.C.P.
Journal nameJournal of Architecture
Detailed descriptionAutumn .
Volume Number5
Issue Number3
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Pages267 - 291
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom

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