吉客鏈：國定古蹟 X 林家花園 X 大宅院建築
In the 18-century immigrant society of Taiwan, there were so-called top five merchant families. Two were surnamed 'Lin', and people once said "Taiwan could be shared by the two LIN families". It was illustrated the wealthy they had and you can imagine how gorgeously their mansions were built. Nowadays, these had preserved as the national heritage destinations.
There were also the four best-known gardens in Taiwan, two of these were the gardens of the Lin Mansions, one in Banchaio and the other one in Wufeng. I am delighted to share my visits of both Lin Mansion's Gardens.
How to Observe A Taiwanese Mansion' Garden
When we visit a mansion's garden how should we observe it?
The Ultimate Guide to Historical Sites of Taiwan, explained how to observe a classical Chinese garden, some prospects below:
Rockery Hill Style
Banchaio's Lin Mansion Garden
Immigration into 18-century Taiwan was mainly from south east of China - the Minnan area including both Lin families. When the family's mansion was designed, it followed the Minnan-style architecture with the classic Chinese garden.
My Family's Recreational Backyard
My family and I live nearby the Banchaio garden. We can easily visit and it has become our recreational backyard when we took the children to sketch and play.
(Photo Credit | Ling Hsu @ Banchaio Lin Mansion)
The kids walked around the garden and also learned a bit of rubbing technique from the workshop held inside the garden. We could feel the energy of Banchaio's Lin Garden without knowing its gardening design well.
(Photo Credit | Chi Hsu)
It was not just the family kids, but also my friends who visited to Bancahio. I always toured the garden and had an ice cream on the end of the journey. I always appreciated having the Lin Mansion's Garden in our neighborhood. I decided to learn more about its architecture and history.
The two Lin families' original hierarchy had actually no genetic connections. Wufeng Lin's ancestors came to Taiwan in 1746 and Banchaio Lin's ancestors came later in 1782.
Wufeng is located in central Taiwan, so I attended a 2D1N historical building tour with a professional guide.
The 2nd day's itinerary was in Wufeng and we visited Lai Garden, Lin Memorial Center, Lin Upper Mansion and Lin Lower Mansion.
As the Wufeng Lin Family was the major landlord in the area, owning a large amount of land so its residences and garden were created within a short walking distance.
(Source: Google Map)
Specialised Tour Organiser
The tour consultant, Charles Lin, is an experienced European tour manager from 2003. During the pandemic, he came back Taiwan as his homeland to stay. Instead of waiting for the western tourist market to open, he created Taiwanese heritage and architecture trips. He is also the 9th generation of Banchaio's Lin Family. His grandpa married a lady from Wufeng's Lin Family. The two Lin Families joint-marriage created a closer relationship between the wealthy families.
I enjoyed the tour very much, which had some special arrangements because of his insider connection. Literally, the Wufeng's Lin Mansion Garden means Lai Garden. (Images below) There are Ten Scenes of Lai Garden but we weren't able to explore those as the scenes needed to be seen in the early morning, raining season or autumn time.
(Photo Credit | Chi Hsu, Art Focus @ Lai Garden)
The Grand Flower Hall
Instead, the most impressive part of all was that we explored the hidden annex adjacent to the Lower Mansion, the Grand Flower (Peony) Hall. This ceremonial hall, designed in Fuzhou style has an exquisite theatrical stage and outdoor seating. It was used to host the family's friends and guests as a private banquet area. The construction was completed initially in 1894 and the second time was in 2013 after the 921 earthquake which crushed the whole Grand Flower Hall.
At Banchao's Lin Garden, the theatrical stage is a part of gardening architecture design. At Wufeng's Lin Garden, it is obviously separated.
(Photo Credit | Mechiall Hsu)
In the video below I caught the architectural layout but it is hard to express the overall atmosphere. At the beginning of the video, you'll see few seconds of the uplifted space with some of big water tanks, the purpose of which was to enhance the echo from the theatrical stage. Originally to host the guests the Wufeng Lin Family owned an acting troupe so you can imagine the gorgeous parties that took place frequently here.
(Video Credit | Chi Hsu)
The Hall is SPECTACULAR, isn't it?!
In Taiwan, we can probably see only 4 or 5 of the remaining Chinese gardens. You may have heard of Suzhou's Chinese Gardens (near Shanghai). These are the most well-know in the world. I've visited these but still think the Grand Flower Hall is more amazing. Our tour guide in Wufeng, who is the 9th generation of Wufeng Lin Family (our tour manager's 'grand uncle'). He mentioned his personal field trips across China as to explore the various Gardening designs. He is very proud of the Grand Flower Hall.
The Blessing Gate
When we walked into the courtyard of the Grand Flower Hall, the gate has a round shape entrance which suggests keeping the disciplined behaviour and thoughtful mind. Every part of the architectural design blessed and educated the family and guests. Meanwhile, the gate creates a great frame for profound the scenery behind it. (Image below - left.)
(Photo Credit | Chi Hsu)
At the end of journey, it was an honor to take a photo with both Lins standing behind the gate. (The image above - right.)
My Family Education
My family sometimes like to take the children to visit the historical destination. Like said earlier, the children enjoyed sketching and running around in the Banchaio Lin Garden. Melody is the kid who has also visited the Wufeng Lin Garden.
(Photo Credit | Mechiall Hsu)
Hope she will get some cultural impacts on her by the family education. It's also the purpose of the heritage sites preserved for the next generation!