chapter  1
25 Pages

Architecture in Traditional China

WithNancy S. Steinhardt

Chinese architecture is distinguished from buildings worldwide by the length and consistency of its building tradition and so few architects whose names are associated with it. Wood joinery and the timber frame that is achieved are defining features of Chinese architecture. The wooden pieces of a standard Chinese building divide into three layers: the column network, the bracket set layer, and the roof frame. The arrangement of Chinese buildings in space similarly exhibits continuity over millennia. Ceremonial architecture is also believed to have been included in Neolithic villages in southeastern and northeastern China. Buddhism and non-Chinese rulers dominated the politics, culture, and resulting architecture of China’s third through sixth centuries. The seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries that comprised the short Sui and long Tang dynasties produced an architectural system that was admired and imitated across East Asia.