Forest and Culture in Ancient China
——Three Types of Forest in Chinese Ancient Landscape Painting
Oct. 24-27, Beijing, China
Abstract: The growth of a historical research on the relationship between forest and culture has become a new endeavor in recent years. Urban forest experts, environmental psychologists, planners and designers, and anthropologist are the primary strength to bring this field into a thriving and prolific stage. Forest, mountains, river, bridge, cloud, buildings and people, are regular elements in Chinese traditional landscape painting. In this presentation, I explore the relationship between forest and culture. I choose three traditional Chinese Landscape paintings to explore the mutual reinforcement. The forests in those paintings represent three types of forest in Chinese landscape painting, namely, the immortal forest, the aesthetic forest, and landscape Utopian. The immortal forest, described in the Painting of Goddess Luo Rhapsody《洛神赋图卷》, is a wonderland where a person might meet fairies and Gods. The aesthetic forest, depicted in the Painting Scroll of Spring Tour《游春图》, shows a beautiful natural scenery where people can indulge themselves in the forest to appreciate the beauty of nature. The landscape utopia, portrayed in the Painting Scroll of Snow-covered Fishing Village《渔村小雪图卷》and organized by elements in the real landscape but not exactly revealed any specific site or surrounding, is a forest in which a literati would take his spiritual journey and become himself. The three types of forest characterize three types of place attachment reflecting the mutual reinforcement between forest and culture.
Key words: immortal forest, aesthetic forest, landscape Utopia, Place Attachment