Emperor Kangxi's Poems on Thirty-Six Scenic Spots of Bi Shu Shan Zhuang, the Imperial Summer Resort


Bi shu shan zhuang is China’s largest imperial palace garden. Situated in Rehe (present-day Chengde, Hebei province) in a river valley bordered by mountains on the west, north, and east, the villa consists of palace halls, lakes, plains, and mountains. Construction of the complex spanned many years, beginning in 1703 under Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722). On the occasion of the completion of the main palace complex in 1711, Kangxi bestowed the title of Bi shu shan zhuang (Summer Mountain Villa) on the villa and selected 36 scenic spots and composed a poem for each spot. This work contains the emperor’s poems, with exquisite illustrations executed by the court painter Shen Yu. The work was issued in the 51st year (1712) of Kangxi’s reign, with annotations by Kuixi, Li Tingyi, and others by command of the emperor. It also includes a preface by the emperor. Kangxi and subsequent Qing emperors spent much of the year at Bi shu shan zhuang. Kangxi, who ascended to the throne in 1662 at the age of seven and reigned for 61 years until his death in 1722, is considered one of China’s greatest and longest-reigning emperors. In 1994, the Summer Mountain Villa was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Last updated: July 8, 2014