Monday, April 6, 2015

What's in a Window

Lotus Window
Peeking through the windows of Botanica’s Chinese Garden isn't only allowed, it’s encouraged. 

These aren't just ordinary windows either, they are decorative Leak Windows. “Of course they leak,” you say. “It’s Springtime in Kansas, it’s raining and there is no glass in them!” Yes, that’s true, but they are not called Leak Windows because they let in the rain, after all it’s a garden and rain is good, but rather because they allow light to leak into the garden and views of the garden to leak out into the world.

There are eleven unique Leak Windows, ten square and one round, designed by local artist Chiaw-Weai Loo and built by Jensen Design. These designs include the Four Gentlemen: plum, bamboo, chrysanthemum, and orchid; the Four Season Flowers: orchid (Spring), lotus (Summer), chrysanthemum (Autumn) and plum (Winter); as well as our Three Winter Friends: pine, bamboo and plum. Each design has a special meaning, however two are particularly significant to our Garden: the plum blossom and the chrysanthemum.

The Three Winter Friends: Pine, Plum Blossom and Bamboo.
Plum Blossoms, or “Prunus mume,” is the theme of the Chinese Garden. The love for prunus mume in China is traditional in that it stands for the unyielding integrity of a pure and honest person when facing adversity. Decorated with the design of prunus mume, the Chinese Garden expresses the admiration for prunus mume and freedom from vulgarity.

Chrysanthemum Window
Kaifeng, Henan, China, a sister city to Wichita, is known as the City of Chrysanthemum, hence the large round window that is part of the Dragon and the tenth square window are both chrysanthemum designs. From mid-October to mid-November every year, Kaifeng is abloom with several million pots featuring 1,000+ varieties of chrysanthemums, which are symbolic of nobility.

Leading up to the Grand Opening of the Chinese Garden of Friendship, we will highlight unique features of the Garden and their historical and cultural significance.