Symbolism and Allegories －－part two
Ancient people also projected their recognition of Confucianism onto plants in nature. Pine trees are mighty and sturdy, bamboos are straight and gnarled and plums blossom in cold winter. Their stances and natural habits associate people with temperaments or characteristics such as loftiness, chastity and tenacity. So Chinese scholars consider pine, bamboo and plum blossoms as "'the three friends in frostiness" to signify the exalted human character, thus the three plants become the usual carriers in Chinese poetry, painting and even gardening. Artists chant verses or portray these images to assimilate themselves or to show their admiration for these noble characters. For example, the most important mountain path in the mountainous area of the Summer Resort is the pine-covered Pine Cloud Gorge. Scholars like the straight and gnarled stance of bamboo, so almost all private gardens south of Yangtzi River are decorated with bamboos. Bai Juyi, a poet who favored bamboo, not only wrote many poems about the bamboo, but also planted many bamboos in his own private garden. Su Shi. an eminent writer in the Song Dynasty, was famed for his affection to bamboo. "'It is possible to dine without meat, but cannot live without bamboo", he once wrote, "'eating no meat makes people thin, but without bamboo people will become vulgar."
Lotus roots are fragile, but they can grow high out of silts segment after segment. Water lilies grow from mud, but they blossom beautifully out of water. These eco-features of lotus and water lily no doubt embody profound life philosophy and signify the noble characters and virtues people should possess in a stagnant social environment. So lotus and water lily, like pine, bamboo and plum blossom, always appear in paintings and garden. They not only decorate the picture and environment with their beautiful appearance, but also purify people's hearts with their artistic implications. In the Garden of Perfect Splendor, lotus flowers cover the pond in a scenic spot called "'Lian Xi Yue Chu" and Qianlong inscribed, "there are men of honor everywhere". The designers of the Humble Administrator's Garden made full use of the double functions of water lily and lotus in image and cultural connotations. Lotus and water lily they planted covered the pond in front of the main hall and the hall was named the Fragrance Spreading Far Hall because the fragrance of lotus is light and could be spread to far away. They built a pavilion beside the lotus pond in the west of the garden, and named the Lingering and Listening Hall, which was quoted from Li Shangyin's sentence of "keep the remnant lotus for listening to the rain". When summer passes and autumn comes, one can sit in the pavilion silently and listen to the sound of rain dropping on the leaves of the lotus.