Yu Yuan, Madelyn Cook, ca. early 1980s

This pavilion and garden are prototypical of Yu Yuan (Garden of Ease) in Old Shanghai. Among the 1559 labyrinth of buildings, gardens and undulating dragon walls sits one small pavilion nestled in rocks and water. It exemplifies the Chinese saying “the simple presence of a pavilion free and open makes a place a garden.”
The Dragon Pavilion copies the basic structure of Yu Yuan, but the roof more closely resembles the Imperial City in Peking, including the imperial yellow color. The surrounding dragon walls normally would be up to 20 feet high (they are lower here for viewing purposes.)The dragon heads of the walls meet over a circular opening of a “moon gate” symbol of both heaven and perfection.
The household furniture and accessories of the Dragon Pavilion are all copies from the Ming Dynasty period. The dwarf trees, incense burners and carefully bred golden carp are long respected by the Chinese, some of which originally had magical Taoist meanings.
Read more about Yu Yuan in Minis Magnified Issue no. 12