Wen Zhenheng (Chinese: 文震亨; pinyin: Wén Zhènhēng; Wade–Giles: Wen Chen-heng, 1585–1645) was a Ming dynasty scholar, painter, landscape garden designer, and great grandson of Wen Zhengming, a famous Ming dynasty painter.
Wen was born in Suzhou in 1585. In 1621, he graduated from the Imperial Academy, obtained the lowest degree of zhusheng. In 1637, Wen was the assistant magistrate of Longzhou county in the Shanxi prefecture. On the same year, he was appointed Secretariat Drafter by Chongzhen Emperor. Wen Zhenheng was famous for his calligraphy, poetry and essays. He was also an expert in landscape garden design, the Sweetgrass Garden he built in Suzhou was famous at his time.
Treatise on Superfluous Things
Wen Zhenheng's best known work Zhang Wu Zhi (traditional: 長物志, simplified:长物志, "Treatise on Superfluous Things") written between 1620-1627 was an encyclopedic book about garden architecture and interior design.
Zhang Wu Zhi was divided into twelve volumes:
- Vol 1. House and Dwelling—17 chapters
- Vol 2. Flowers and Trees—43 chapters
- Vol 3. Water and Stones - 18 chapters
- Vol 4. Fowl and Fish—11 chapters
- Vol 5. Books and Paintings - 26 chapters
- Vol 6. Chairs and Beds—20 chapters
- Vol 7. Utensils—58 chapters
- Vol 8. Cloths and accessories—10 chapters
- Vol 9. Boat and carriage—4 chapters
- Vol 10. Arrangement—11 chapters
- Vol 11. Vegetable and Fruits—27 chapters
- Vol 12. Incense and Tea—24 chapters(Wen Zhenheng on Tea)
- Craig Clunas (2004). Superfluous Things, Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2820-8. It should be noted too that Clunas argues for a composition date of 1616-20. For his discussion of the matter, see p. 27
- Wen Zhenheng (2005). 长物志图说 Zhang Wu Zhi Tu Shuo (Treatise on Superfluous Things Pictorial Edition). Shandong Pictorial Publishing House. ISBN 7-80603-779-9.
An excellent edition, with detailed annotations, abundant pictures and photographs of various objects discussed in the book. There is no complete translation of this book in any other language. Some sections were translated in the Clunas book above and in some books on gardening and furniture.
Craig Clunas discusses several Ming dynasty scholars, including Gao Lian, Tu Long in addition to Wen Zhenheng. He has translated the first chapter of each of the twelve volumes and there is a detailed biography of Wen Zhenheng on pages 20 to 25.