Fu Culture in the Garden of Good Fortune

Prince Kung’s Mansion consists of two parts, the Mansion and the Garden, both of which are divided into three parts by three axes. Sitting behind the Mansion, the Garden covers an area of 28,860 square meters and boasts over 30 sites of ancient buildings.

It is said that there are 10,000fuin the Garden including 9,999 bats (bat is a homophone offuin Chinese) on the buildings and thefuwritten by Emperor Kangxi on the Stele ofFu. Therefore, the Garden is also known as the Garden of Good Fortune, or literally the Garden of Ten ThousandFu. Among the 10,000fu, only the one on the Stele ofFuin the Miyun Cave is the explicit one while the other 9,999 are implicitly presented with the image of bats. Therefore,FuCulture in Prince Kung’s Mansion is implicit, so to speak. Then by what means could we discoverfuin the Garden of Good Fortune?

In traditional Chinese culture, bat has always been a symbol of blessings, longevity, auspiciousness and happiness because it is a homophone offu. In auspicious patterns, bats are often depicted as lovely and charming instead of ugly and weird in the real world. Such patterns have been considered as the symbol of blessings and auspiciousness and have been very popular among Chinese people.

The buildings in Prince Kung’s Mansion give full play to the symbolic meaning of bats because bats are everywhere. The image of bats in the Mansion falls into types, “explicit” ones and “implicit” ones. “Explicit” ones feature the concrete image of bats, for instance, the image of bats on colored paintings, decorative patterns on the ceiling, and wood carvings on window frames. The “implicit” ones refer to abstract and schematized image of bats. The explicit and implicit ones are everywhere and set off each other.

The most typical one should be the bat-shaped window of the Back Screen Buildings of the Garden (see the picture below). The window looks like a reversed bat, implying that blessings are coming. Below the image of the bat there are two catfishes, implying abundance and surplus every year. The pattern of the window vividly demonstrates the wish of the master for blessings and fortune.

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