Garden of the Museum

"Let joy flow into infinity around my gate.
May there be mirth around my gate forever.”

These two inscriptions greet the visitor at the Chinese Moon Gate, which forms the entrance to the back garden of the Hopp villa. Around the building of the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts is the capital's most unusual oriental-style garden, which its former owner, Ferenc Hopp, decorated with oriental artefacts of various origins and rare plants.

Ferenc Hopp's interest in the East was reflected not only in his immediate material environment, but also in his home and garden. He named the villa and garden he bought after his first trip around the world Buitenzorg-lak (the Dutch word means "place without worries") after the wonderful botanical garden of Buitenzorg in Java (today: Bogor, Indonesia), which had a great influence on him. He planted rare plants and placed oriental artefacts in the garden of the villa. In this special environment, Ferenc Hopp often and gladly received guests, whom he often immortalized in photographs taken in the garden of the villa. On Ferenc Hopp's professional jubilee in 1895, his employees praised their boss's work in an album, describing the garden as follows:

"...When you enter the interesting holiday home, you immediately see the garden, which is comparable neither in the capital nor in the country. It's as if a part of smiling Japan had been conjured up here in the middle of the capital. Lush oriental creeping plants, rare flowers competing in rich colors capture the attention, and Hindu idols, Chinese and Japanese vases and statues peek out from among the bushes and flowers, among them an exquisite elephant carved from syenite and a stone monument resting on a frog. At the entrance, there is a Chinese decorative gate with a rounded circular opening, full of beautiful figurines. There is even a Japanese bamboo bridge and a Japanese garden house in one corner of the garden."

And Zoltán Felvinczi Takács writes in his manuscript memoirs - written much later - among other things:

"Once upon a time, a playful labyrinth imitated Japan with a small pond and a bridge connecting its hilly shores and led to the thatched arbor, open on three sides, which was sometimes filled with guests, among whom the host imagined himself back to the farthest East.... // This is roughly how Ferenc Hopp's small empire can be described. The host was assisted in its construction by two people, the architect Géza Györgyi, the builder of the round Chinese gate, and Ignácz Starek, the gardener."

Artifacts from different parts of the world populate the garden as travel souvenirs. Some of them are no longer visible, such as the tombstone from the Roman period, but the huge seashells from the Indian Ocean are no longer in the garden, but have been placed in the museum's storage for artifact protection reasons. Ferenc Hopp received the huge sea shells as a gift from a traveling companion during his voyage in the Indian Ocean in the spring of 1894, and he probably sent them home from Zanzibar by ship mail. He found a place for them in the garden, in addition to their decorative role, they also served as bird feeders. The history of the design of the villa and the garden, as well as the late and still standing artefacts of the garden are told by text boards, archival photos and objects that bring to life an interesting event in the history of the garden. Among the plants planted by Ferenc Hopp, only a huge ginkgo tree remained in the middle of the garden.

Japanese stone lantern
The Kasuga stone lantern, which is now truncated, originally stood in the front garden, and according to old photographs, it was already there around 1900.

Japanese bird drinker (tsukubai)
A characteristic accessory of Japanese gardens, the stone basin or stone cylinder that can be used as a bird feeder, but was originally used to store the water needed for ritual purification in front of the entrance to the tea pavilions, still stands in its original place in the front garden.

Indian elephant
The elephant carved from syenite, standing on a high pedestal, was originally placed in the garden behind the building, according to archival photos. The elephant lifting a lotus bud with its trunk was injured by a shrapnel hit during the siege of Budapest in January 1945. His white tusks, which he once wore, are kept in the museum's database for reasons of artifact protection.

Pagoda or Korean tower
In the front garden, in its original place, stands the pagoda carved from granite, ordered by Ferenc Hopp in 1904 from the company Kuhn & Komor, Yokohama. The pagoda was disassembled and arrived in Pest by boat and train.

According to surviving recordings of the villa's garden, the Chinese moon gate was already standing in the back garden of the villa in the 1890s. In the surviving letters, Ferenc Hopp does not mention where he saw such a decorative gate in China, but based on personal experiences, he may have decided to build his own moon gate. With the help of Joseph Haas, the consul of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Shanghai, he had the opportunity to order roof tiles, decorations, stone tablets, and stone lions directly from China. On behalf of Ferenc Hopp, the architect Géza Györgyi designed the gate and the placement of the decorations. The defining decorative element of the gate is the colorful, figural ceramic frieze placed in the strip under the roof, which depicts theater scenes from Cantonese opera. The Chinese designers attribute an important role to the moon gates in the organization of the space: it expands the space between the garden parts separated from each other by a wall, and connects the plants on the other side and a part of the view - enclosed in a round frame - to the place of contemplation for the observer. Therefore, it is necessary that a harmonious composition is visible through it: few, well-chosen plants and a rock, garden pool, etc. In the garden of the Hopp villa, in the line of the axis of the moon gate, a small Jaina shrine was built deep in the garden, also supporting the original carved stones with a brick wall.

Jaina shrine
In the niche of the sanctum is a tirthankara – a Sanskrit word meaning “wading maker”; title of spiritual teachers in the Jain religion - made of stone, 14-15 century seated statue was installed.

Stone block from Rio
Behind the moon gate is the large stone block with the inscription: rio de janeiro, 1893.

Trimúrti, from the sanctuary open on all four sides (India)
The decoration of the rear garden of the building is the Rajasthani-style stone pavilion, in which a statue of Brahma can be seen. Brahma - along with Vishnu and Shiva - is a member of the trinity of gods (Trimurti) of the Hindu religion, the regulator of the human world and the creator of the four basic orders that rule in it. Brahma sits in a lotus cup, meditating pose, eyes closed, lotus seat. He is depicted with a crowned head and a long beard, with his four faces looking towards the four heavens. In her arms she holds a jug of water, a book, and a prayer rosary. His back animal is the swan.

Tortoise, originally with a stele on its back (China)
The stone turtle sculpture made in the early 1890s can also be seen in the back garden of the building. Due to its great age, the turtle is a symbol of immortality in China. In the old photographs, it is still clear that there was originally a memorial stone with an inscription placed on its back, which took the shape of a rock, evoking eternity, and the following inscription was carved on its side: Fairyland. (Originally: Penglaj-kuo, meaning "Island of the Immortals".)