The Motivation of Constructing of the Summer Palace2016-05-26 13:54:00Share:
During the middle of Qing Dynasty, Beijing became more and more prosperous as well as its population.
As the increasing water consumption, the water system built in Yuan Dynasty could not satisfy all the demand for water supply. In addition, the causeways of the west lake had not been repaired for many years, which resulted in the surrounding farmlands were often immersed by the flood, and even the royal gardens was under the same treat.
Therefore, since the winter of the 14th year of Qianlong period (1749) the government had a large treatment project launched to renovate the water system in the northwest suburbs of Beijing.
One purpose of constructing the Summer Palace was to dredge up more spring mouths and watercourses to increase water supply, another goals was to dig deeper into the west lake to expand the volume of the reservoir and have more dykes and floodgates constructed.
Thus, the whole water system would take on a new appearance and not only the water supply could satisfy the capital but unobstructed water traffic routes would be developed further. There would be more high-quality paddy fields in the local areas.
This is one of the reasons or the background of the construction of new garden, and it is a successful example of a perfect integration of water control system and garden project.
There were other two direct reasons for the construction. One is to celebrate the 60 years birthday ceremony for Empress Dowager Niugulu, mother of Emperor Qianlong. A large Buddhist temple was to be built in advance to mark the occasion. To send good wishes to his mother, Qianlong renamed the Urn Hill to Longevity Hill.
The other is that Qianlong wanted to expand the water area and make it a maritime training base. About 1,800 years ago, Emperor Wudi of Han dynasty wanted to conquer Kunming state of the southern ethnic group, so he renamed one of the lakes inside his imperial garden to Kunming Lake. Emperor Wudi trained his navy there and prepared for the expedition. Emperor Qianlong adopted the old name to indicate that this lake was dug also for military purposes just like its predecessor.
The changes of the names of the hill and lake were an echo to these two reasons. The Urn Hill was renamed the longevity hill to emphasize the occasion of celebration of empress dowager’s birthday, while the change of the name of the West Lake into Kunming Lake embodied his military purpose.
Eventually, Emperor Qianlong realized his ideal garden in his mind.
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