Sacred Groves in Burial Grounds


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Virginia Tech


The thesis starts with the study of a Miao village in China, which is known as the center of the Miao culture. In Miao settlement landscape history, there is one feature that can be found in many cultures. The Fengshui Lin, also known as the Sacred Grove, protects the village. The ancient songs and tales of Miao show that the Fengshui Lin can be seen as the spirits of the ancestors (Wang, X. 2015). Since ancient times, Miao people have a tradition of respect for nature, and Fengshui Lin is the most important landscape element for them. It is not only part of the natural flexible border, but also associated with many social activities.

Sacred groves are created and evolved through human acts and the long span of human history (Jackson J. B. 1980). They play an important role in many different cultures around the world. Sacred groves may reflect the culture of society as settings for specific functions, or serve as objects of worship for people to purify their souls and refresh their spirits.

In burial grounds, there also are sacred groves which could be a place for praying and commemorating. Since sacred groves are seen as spirits of life, it is necessary to think about the relationship between sacred groves and burial grounds.

The thesis focuses on the issue of what is sacred? How to make a grove sacred or create a sacred grove in burial grounds? What kind of scenario for the design? With the inspiration of the Fengshui Lin in Miao village, the project aims to create a sacred space with trees for people who lost their family or friends in local communities. My thesis addressed these questions through a design project for sacred groves in the local parks of Arlington, Virginia. With design criteria derived from case studies and literature review, my goal is to create neighborhood cemeteries in the local parks to bring people closer to life as well as death and to let people get the experience of mortality.



Sacred Groves, Burial Grounds, Community