What is Chinese art and architecture

Chinese architecture is an architecture that has taken shape in East Asia over many centuries. The structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, with only the decorative details being the main changes. Since the Tang Dynasty, Chinese architecture has had a major impact on the architectural styles of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

The architecture of China is as old as the Chinese civilization. From every source of information - literary, graphic, exemplary - there is strong evidence that the Chinese have always enjoyed an indigenous construction system that has retained its main features from prehistoric times to the present day. In the vast area from Chinese Turkestan to Japan, from Manchuria to the northern half of French Indochina, the same construction system prevails; and that was the area of ​​Chinese cultural influence. That this construction system can move on such a large territory for more than four thousand years and still remain a living architecture that, despite repeated foreign invasions - militarily, intellectually and spiritually - retains its main features, is a phenomenon only comparable to the continuity of civilization, of which it is an integral part.

Throughout the 20th century, Western trained Chinese architects tried to combine traditional Chinese designs into modern (usually government) architecture with great success. Additionally, urban development pressures in today's China have required faster construction speeds and a higher areal ratio, which means that in major cities, the demand for traditional Chinese buildings, which are usually less than three levels, has decreased in favor of modern architecture. However, the traditional skills of Chinese architecture, including large and small carpentry, masonry, and stone carving, are still applied to the construction of folk architecture in the vast rural area in China.

Architectural bilateral symmetry
A very important feature in Chinese architecture is the emphasis on articulation and bilateral symmetry, which means balance. Bilateral symmetry and the articulation of buildings can be found everywhere in Chinese architecture, from palace complexes to humble farmhouses. When possible, home renovation and expansion plans often try to maintain this symmetry, provided there is enough capital to do so. Secondary elements are positioned as two wings on either side of the main structures to maintain overall bilateral symmetry. Buildings are typically planned to include an even number of columns in a structure to create an odd number of bays (間). With the inclusion of a main door to a building in the central bay, symmetry is maintained.

In contrast to the buildings, Chinese gardens are a notable exception that is rather asymmetrical. The principle underlying the composition of the garden is to create a permanent flow.

In a large part of traditional Chinese architecture, buildings or building complexes take up an entire property, but enclose open spaces in themselves. These enclosed spaces come in two forms:

Courtyard (院): The use of open courtyards is common in many types of Chinese architecture. This is best illustrated in the Siheyuan, which consists of an empty room surrounded by buildings connected either directly or through porches.
“Heavenly Fountain” (天井): Although large open courtyards are less common in southern Chinese architecture, the concept of a “free space” surrounded by buildings, as found in northern courtyard complexes, can be seen in the familiar southern building structure as “ Good heavens ”. This structure is essentially a relatively enclosed courtyard, formed from the intersections of closely spaced buildings, offering a small opening to the sky through the roof space from the ground.
These housings are used to regulate the temperature and ventilate the building complexes. The northern courtyards are usually open and south-facing to allow the windows and walls of the building to be exposed to the sun and to keep the cold north winds outside. Southern sky wells are relatively small and are used to collect rainwater from the roofs. They perform the same tasks as the Roman impluvium while limiting the amount of sunlight that enters the building. Sky wells also act as a vent for rising hot air, which draws cool air from the lower floors of the home and allows cool air to be exchanged with the outside.

The projected hierarchy and meaning and use of buildings in traditional Chinese architecture are based on the strict placement of buildings in a property / complex. Buildings with doors on the front of the property are considered more important than those facing the sides. Buildings facing away from the front of the property are the least important.

The south-facing buildings in the rear and the more private location of the property with higher solar radiation are valued more highly and are reserved for older family members or pedigrees. Buildings facing east and west are usually intended for younger family members, while buildings near the front are usually intended for servants and salaried helpers.

Front buildings in the rear of the properties are especially used for rooms of festive rites and for the placement of ancestral halls and plaques. In several courtyard complexes, central courtyards and their buildings are viewed as more important than peripheral ones, with the latter typically used as storage or service rooms or kitchens.

Horizontal emphasis
Classical Chinese buildings, especially those of the wealthy, are built with an emphasis on width rather than height, with a closed heavy platform and a large roof hanging over this base, with the vertical walls not well emphasized. This contrasts with the western architecture, which tends to grow in height and depth. Chinese architecture emphasizes the visual impact of the width of the buildings.

The halls and palaces in the Forbidden City, for example, have fairly low ceilings compared to similar stately buildings in the west, but their outward appearance suggests the all-encompassing nature of Imperial China. These ideas have found their way into modern western architecture, for example through the work of Jørn Utzon. Of course, this does not apply to pagodas, which are limited to religious building complexes.

Cosmological Concepts
Ancient Chinese architecture used concepts from Chinese cosmology such as Feng Shui (geomancy) and Taoism to organize the construction and layout of ordinary residences into imperial and religious structures. This includes the use of:

Screen walls to the main entrance of the house, which comes from the belief that evil things travel in straight lines.
Talismans and images of happiness:
Door gods on doors to ward off evil and encourage the flow of happiness
Three anthropomorphic figures depicting Fu Lu Shou (福祿壽 fú-lù-shòu) stars are clearly visible, sometimes with the proclamation “The three stars are present” (三星 宅 sān-xīng-zhài)
Animals and fruits that symbolize luck and prosperity, such as bats and pomegranates. The club is often made through Rebus.
Align the structure with its back to the elevated landscape and ensure there is water in the front. It is also considered that the generally windowless rear of the building faces north, where the winds are coldest in winter.
Ponds, pools, fountains, and other sources of water are usually built into the structure.
The use of certain colors, numbers, and cardinal points in traditional Chinese architecture reflected the belief in a kind of immanence in which a thing's nature could be fully contained in its own form. Although the Western tradition gradually developed a lot of architectural literature, little was written on the subject in China, and the earliest text, the Kaogongji, was never disputed. However, ideas about the cosmic harmony and order of the city have usually been interpreted at their most basic level, so that a reproduction of the "ideal" city never existed. Beijing, rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries, is one of the best examples of traditional Chinese urban planning.


Materials and History
Unlike other building materials, old wooden structures often do not survive as they are more prone to weathering and fire and will naturally rot over time. Although there are still no wooden residential towers, watchtowers and pagodas that existed centuries ago, the Songyue Pagoda, built in 523, is the oldest surviving pagoda in China; The use of brick instead of wood had a lot to do with its endurance over the centuries. From the Tang Dynasty (618-907), brick and stone architecture gradually became more common, replacing wooden buildings. The earliest examples of this transition can be seen in construction projects such as the Zhaozhou Bridge completed in 605 or the Xumi Pagoda built in 636, but the stone and brick architecture is known to have been used in the underground funerary architecture of earlier dynasties.

These rammed earth ruins of a granary in Hecang Fortress (Chinese: iny 仓 城; Pinyin: Hécāngchéng), located ~ 11 km (7 miles) northeast of the Western Han-era Yumen Pass, were discovered during the Western Han (202 BC - 9 AD). It was considerably rebuilt during the Western Jin (AD 280-316).
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were no all-wooden Tang Dynasty buildings that still existed; the oldest discovered so far was the 1931 find of the Guanyin Pavilion in Dule Monastery from 984 during the song. This was until the architectural historians Liang Sicheng (1901-1972), Lin Huiyin (1904-1955), Mo Zongjiang (1916-1999) and (1902-c. 1960) discovered that the Great East Hall of the Foguang Temple on Mount Wutai in Shanxi in June 1937 it was reliably dated to the year 857. The ground floor dimensions of this monastery courtyard are 34 by 17.66 m. One year after its discovery in Foguang, the main hall of the nearby Nanchan Temple on Mount Wutai was reliably dated to the year 782, while in the 21st century a total of six wooden houses from the Tang period were found. The oldest existing fully wooden pagoda that has been preserved intact is the pagoda of Fogong Temple of the Liao Dynasty, in Ying County of Shanxi. While the East Hall of Foguang Temple has only seven types of bracket arms in its construction, the 11th-century Fogong Temple pagoda has a total of fifty-four.

The first walls and platforms in China were made of rammed earth, and as time went on, brick and stone became more widely used. This can be seen in ancient parts of the Great Wall of China, while the stone and stone wall seen today is a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) renovation.

Foundations: Most buildings are typically erected on raised platforms (臺基) as foundations. Vertical beams can rest on raised stone pedestals (柱础) that occasionally rest on stilts. In the construction of the lower class, the platforms are constructed from rammed earth platforms that are unpaved or paved with bricks or ceramics. In the simplest case, vertical structural beams are driven directly into the ground. Upper class constructions typically have tall rammed earth or stone foundations paved with stone slabs with ornately carved heavy stone plinths to support large vertical structural supports. The vertical beams rest and stay on their plinths solely through the friction and pressure exerted by the building structure.
Structural beams: Use of large timber for the primary support of the roof of a building. Wooden beams, usually large beams, are used as load-bearing supports and side beams for the design of buildings and for supporting roofs. These bars are connected directly to one another or, in larger and higher class structures, indirectly connected to one another through the use of brackets. These structural timbers are prominently displayed in finished structures. It is not definitively known how the ancient builders positioned the huge wooden supporting pillars.
Structural Connections: Wooden frames are usually constructed with joinery and doweling alone, rarely with the use of glue or nails. These types of semi-rigid structural connections allow the wood structure to withstand bending and torsion while under high compression. The structural stability is further ensured by the use of heavy beams and roofs that remove the structure. The lack of glue or nails in the joinery, the use of non-rigid beams like dougong, and the use of wood as structural elements allow buildings to slide, bend, and vibrate without absorbing shock, vibration, and ground displacement from earthquakes Damage to its structure.
Walls: The common use of curtain walls or door panels to demarcate rooms or enclose a building, with the general emphasis on load-bearing walls in most upper classes. However, with the decrease in the availability of trees for construction in the later dynasties, the use of load-bearing walls in non-governmental or religious construction increased, with brick and stone commonly used.

Schematic representation of wooden console brackets (“Dougong”) holding a multi-pitched roof, from the architectural treatise Yingzao Fashi (1103 AD)
Roofs: Flat roofs are unusual, while gable roofs are almost ubiquitous in traditional Chinese architecture. Roofs are either built on roof beams or rest directly on vertical structural beams. In the higher-class construction, roof girders are held in place by complex Dougong clamp systems that indirectly connect them to the primary structural beams. Three main types of roofs are found:
Straight sloping: roofs with a single slope. These are the most economical types of roofing and are most commonly found in traditional architectures.
Multiple sloping: Roofs with 2 or more sloping sections. These roofs are used in higher class constructions, from the dwellings of wealthy bourgeoisie to palaces.
Sweeping: Roofs with a curved curvature that rises at the corners of the roof. This type of roof structure is usually reserved for temples and palaces, although it can also be found in the homes of the wealthy. In the first cases, the roof ridges are usually decorated with ceramic figures.
Roof top: The roof top of a large hall is usually crowned with a roof ridge made of tiles and statues to stabilize the roof tiles. These ridges are often well decorated, especially for religious or palatial structures. In some regions of China, the ridges are sometimes extended or integrated into the walls of the building to form matouqiang (horse head walls), which act as fire protection from drifting embers.
Roof decorations: symbolism can be found from the colors of the eaves, roofing materials and roof decorations. Gold / yellow is a cheap (good) color, imperial roofs are gold or yellow. They are usually used by the emperor. Green roofs symbolize bamboo shafts, which in turn stand for youth and longevity.
Influence in neighboring Asian countries

Chinese architecture has influenced the development of the architecture of many neighboring Asian countries to varying degrees. Chinese architecture has had a major impact on the architectural styles of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, where the East Asian hip and gable roof design is ubiquitous. In Sri Lanka, Chinese architecture, along with influences from Indian and Southeast Asian architecture, played a significant role in the design of Sri Lankan architecture.For example, the Kandyan roof style shares many similarities with the East Asian hip and gable roof technique, which originated in China. In Thailand, certain Chinese techniques were adopted by Thai artisans after the Yuan and Ming Dynasties began trading. Certain temple and palace roofs were also built in the Chinese style, and Chinese style buildings can be found in Ayutthaya, a nod to the large number of Chinese shipbuilders, sailors, and traders who came to the country. In Indonesia, mosques with Chinese influence can be found in certain parts of the country. This influence is new compared to other parts of Asia and is largely due to the large Sino-Indonesian community.

The guardian lion with Chinese roots is also found in front of Buddhist temples, buildings, and some Hindu temples (in Nepal) in Asia, including Japan, Korea, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia, and Laos.

Classification by structure
Chinese classifications for architecture include:

亭 ting
臺 tai
樓 lou
閣 ge
軒 Xuan
塔 ta
榭 xie
屋 wu
斗拱 dougong interlocking wooden brackets, often used in clusters to support roofs and add ornamentation.
藻井 Vaulted caisson or coffered ceiling

Architectural types

The houses of the commoners, be they bureaucrats, merchants or peasants, tended to follow a certain pattern: the center of the building would be a shrine to the deities and ancestors, which would also be used during the festivities. On either side of it were bedrooms for the elders; The building's two wings (known as the "Guardian Dragons" by the Chinese) were for the younger members of the family, as well as the living room, dining room, and kitchen, although sometimes the living room could be very close to the center.

Sometimes the extended families became so large that one or even two additional pairs of “wings” had to be built. This resulted in a U-shaped building with a yard for farm work. However, merchants and bureaucrats preferred to close the front with an imposing entrance gate. All buildings were regulated by law, and the law stipulated that the number of stories, length of the building, and colors used would depend on the class of the owner. Some citizens who lived in bandit-plagued areas built community castles called Tulou for protection.

There were certain architectural features reserved exclusively for buildings built for the Emperor of China. An example is the use of yellow roof tiles, with yellow being the imperial color; Yellow roof tiles still adorn most of the buildings in the Forbidden City. However, the Temple of Heaven uses blue roof tiles to symbolize heaven. The roofs are almost always supported by brackets (“dougong”), a characteristic shared only with the largest religious buildings. The wooden pillars of the buildings, as well as the surfaces of the walls, are usually colored red. Black is also a famous color that is often used in pagodas. It was believed that the gods were inspired by the black color to descend on earth.

The 5-clawed Chinese dragon, adopted by the first Ming emperor for his personal use, was used as a decoration on the beams, pillars, and doors of the imperial architecture. Oddly enough, the dragon was never used on the roofs of imperial buildings.

Only the buildings used by the imperial family were allowed to have nine jian (間, space between two pillars); only the gates used by the emperor could have five arches, the middle one of course being reserved for the emperor. The ancient Chinese preferred the color red. The buildings faced south because the north had a cold wind.

After the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, Beijing became the capital of China and completed the Easter migration of the Chinese capital that had begun since the Jin Dynasty. The Ming Uprising in 1368 reaffirmed Chinese authority and fixed Beijing as the seat of imperial power for the next five centuries. The Emperor and Empress lived in palaces on the central axis of the Forbidden City, the Crown Prince on the east side, and the concubines at the rear (hence the numerous Imperial concubines were often referred to as "The Back Palace Three Thousand"). However, in the middle of the Qing Dynasty, the emperor's residence was relocated to the west side of the complex. It is misleading to speak of an axis in the western sense of a visual perspective ordering facades, rather the Chinese axis is a line of privileges that is usually built on that regulates access - there are no views, but a series of Gates and pavilions.

Numerology heavily influenced imperial architecture, hence the use of nine in many structures (nine is the largest single-digit number) and the reason why the Forbidden City in Beijing has 9,999.9 rooms - just ahead of the mythical 10,000 rooms in heaven. The importance of the east (the direction of the rising sun) in orienting and positioning imperial buildings is a form of sun worship found in many ancient cultures where there is a notion that rulers are attached to the sun.

The tombs and mausoleums of imperial family members, such as the 8th century Tang Dynasty tombs at the Qianling mausoleum, can also be counted as part of the imperial tradition in architecture. These above-ground mounds of earth and pyramids had underground shafts and vaults that had been clad with brick walls since at least the Warring States (481-221 BC).

In general, Buddhist architecture follows the imperial style. A large Buddhist monastery usually has a front hall that houses the statue of a bodhisattva, followed by a large hall that houses the statues of the Buddhas. There are accommodations for the monks and nuns on both sides. Some of the greatest examples of this come from the 18th century Puning Temple and Putuo Zongcheng Temple. Buddhist monasteries also sometimes have pagodas where the relics of Gautama Buddha can be kept; older pagodas tend to be four-sided, while later pagodas usually have eight sides.

Taoist architecture, on the other hand, usually follows the bourgeois style. However, the main entrance is usually on the side, out of superstition about demons who might try to enter the premise (see Feng Shui). In contrast to the Buddhists, the main deity is located in a Daoi temple in the main hall in the front, the lesser deities in the rear hall and on the sides.

The tallest pre-modern building in China was built for religious and military purposes. The Liaodi Pagoda from 1055 AD. Stands at an altitude of 84 m. Although it was the crowning pagoda of the Kaiyuan Monastery in ancient Dingzhou, Hebei, it also served as a military watchtower for Song Dynasty soldiers and potential Liao Dynasty enemy movements.

The architecture of the mosques and gongbei shrines of the Chinese Muslims often combines traditional Chinese styles with oriental influences.

urban planning
Chinese urban planning is based on Fengshui geomancy and the well field system of land division, both of which have been used since the Neolithic. The basic well-field diagram is overlaid with the Luoshu, a magic square divided into 9 sub-squares and linked to Chinese numerology.

Miniature models
Although mostly only ruins of brick and rammed earth walls and towers from ancient China (ie before the 6th century AD) have been preserved, information about ancient Chinese architecture (especially wooden architecture) can be seen from more or less realistic clay models of buildings the ancient Chinese as grave goods. This is similar to the paper joss houses that were burned in some modern Chinese burials.

During the Jin Dynasty (265-420) and the Six Dynasties, miniature models of buildings or entire architectural ensembles were often made to adorn the tops of so-called "soul vases" (hunping) found in many tombs of the time.

Regional variation
There are significant regional differences in Chinese architecture. Some of the most notable regional styles are:

Lingnan (Cantonese) architecture
The classic Lingnan architecture is mainly used in the southern Gwongdung Province and the eastern half of neighboring Gwongsai. It is known for its use of carvings and sculptures for decorations, green bricks, balconies, "Cold Alleys", "Narrow Doors" and many other properties adaptive to the subtropical region.

Minnan (Hokkien) architecture
Minnan Architecture, or Hokkien Architecture, refers to the architectural style of the Hoklo people, the Han Chinese group who have been the dominant populations of most of Fujian and Taiwan. This style is known for its use of dovetail roofs (heavily adorned upward curving roof ridge) and "cut porcelain carving" for decorations.

Hakka architecture
Hakka people are known for building very distinctive walled villages to protect themselves from clan wars.

Gan architecture
The Gan Chinese-speaking Jiangxi Province is known for its special style. She uses bricks, wood and stones as materials, which are mainly built with wooden frames.

Aside from the above, there are many other regional styles such as Hutong which is prevalent in North China, Longtang and Shikumen of Haipai (Shanghainese) architecture and so on.