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See also: Sharawadgi


«» (Fānghú shèngjǐng; Beautiful Scene of the Square Pot), part of the Forty Scenes of the Yuanmingyuan commissioned in 1744 by the Qianlong Emperor and painted by two court artists, Shen Yuan and Tang Dai. It depicts the Old Summer Palace (; Yuánmíng Yuán) in Beijing, China, the naturalistic gardens of which were regarded as an example of the sharawadgi style.
A 17th-century portrait of Sir William Temple by Peter Lely, collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, UK


From the Japanese shara'aji or share'aji (洒落味、しゃれ味).[1] The word was first published in a 1690 work by English statesman and essayist Sir William Temple, 1st Baronet (1628–1699) (see quotation), who claimed it was of Chinese origin, but scholars agree that this is incorrect.[2] Temple following his own enthusiasm for China, took the literary model of introducing "the Chineses" (sic) as his spokesmen.[3][4]



sharawadgi (uncountable)

  1. (historical or obsolete) A style of landscape gardening or architecture in which rigid lines and symmetry are avoided in favour of an organic appearance. [from 1690.]
    • 1690, William Temple, “Upon the Gardens of Epicurus; or of Gardening in the Year 1685”, in Miscellanea: In Four Essays. I. Upon Ancient and Modern Learning. II. Upon the Gardens of Epicurus. III. Upon Heroick Virtue. IV. Upon Poetry, London: Printed by T. M. for Ri[chard] and Ra[lph] Simpson, at the sign of the harp in St. Pauls-Church-Yard, OCLC 643613891, page 58; republished as Miscellanea. The Second Part. In Four Essays. I. Upon Antient and Modern Learning. II. Upon the Gardens of Epicurus. III. Upon Heroick Virtue. IV. Upon Poetry, 5th edition, London: Printed for Ri[chard] Simpson at the Three Trouts, and Ra[lph] Simpson at the harp in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1705, OCLC 476085354, pages 129–130:
      Among us, the Beauty of Building and Planting is placed chiefly in ſome certain Proportions, Symmetries, or Uniformities; our Walks and our Trees ranged ſo, as to anſwer one another, and at exact Distances. The Chineſes ſcorn this way of Planting, [] their greateſt Reach of Imagination, is employed in contriving Figures, where the Beauty ſhall be great, and ſtrike the Eye, but without any Order or Diſpoſition of Parts, that ſhall be commonly or eaſily obſerv'd. And though we have hardly any Notion of this ſort of Beauty, yet they have a particular Word to expreſs it; and where they find it hit their Eye at firſt Sight, they ſay the Sharawadgi is fine or is admirable, or any ſuch Expreſſion of Eſteem.
    • 1975, Peter Thorpe, Eighteenth Century English Poetry, Chicago, Ill.: Nelson-Hall, OCLC 476334122, page 113:
      Long before the close of the seventeenth century, there was a fascination with "Sharawadgi" (a word supposedly derived from Chinese), a type of design that accented the wild, the surprising, the irregular.
    • 2008, Sean Riley Silver, “Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill”, in The Curatorial Imagination in England, 1660–1752 (unpublished Ph.D. in English dissertation), Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California, Los Angeles, OCLC 436098817, page 360:
      Temple's word for this style is "sharawadgi"; it is the deliberate arrangement of form to create particular vistas, which also imply particular sites or points of view from which those vistas perfect themselves. But as [Horace] Walpole adapts Temple's reflections, first in his own treatise on gardening, and later in his thoughts on architecture, sharawadgi is the organization of a series of such views.
    • 2009, Attila Dósa; Robert Crawford, “Robert Crawford: The Emphatic Soul”, in Beyond Identity: New Horizons in Modern Scottish Poetry (Scottish Cultural Review of Language and Literature; 13), Amsterdam; New York, N.Y.: Rodopi, →ISBN, page 84:
      The kind of Scots we used was messy; it was going into all sorts of odd lexical corners and stirring these up with four-letter words. It was a kind of "sharawaggi", an absolute mixture. This didn't go down well.
    • 2010, David Porter, “Horace Walpole and the Gothic Repudiation of Chinoiserie”, in The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-century England, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 122:
      There are no further ebullient accounts in [Horace] Walpole's letters of Chinese bridges and temples and the glories of sharawadgi, and he never moved forward with a proposed Chinese house at Strawberry Hill for which [Richard] Bentley had provided a plan.
    • 2010, Philip Wilkinson, 50 Architecture Ideas You Really Need to Know, London: Quercus, →ISBN:
      For many, oriental asymmetry was a liberation, and sharawaggi became a cult term of praise when talking about everything from ceramics to buildings.

Alternative forms[edit]


  1. ^ KUITERT, Wybe (2014) , “Japanese Art, Aesthetics, and a European Discourse: Unraveling Sharawadgi”, in Japan Review[1], volume 27, DOI:10.15055/00007151, pages 77–101 Online as PDF
  2. ^ Sharawaggi, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1913.
  3. ^ Kuitert, Wybe. Context & Praxis: Japan and Designing Gardens in the West Gartenkunst 2016, 28/2 278-292 ISSN: 0935-0519
  4. ^ KUITERT, Wybe (2019) , “Japanese Aesthetics and European Gardens: In pursuit of Sharawadgi”, in Japan Research[2], volume 59, DOI:10.15055/00007324, pages 7–35 Online as PDF

Further reading[edit]