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Beijing Forbidden City
 
 

Architecture


Ancient Chinese architecture has a long history and great achievements, and created many architectural miracles such as the Great
Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and so on. In the process of its development, superior architectural techniques and
artistic design were combined to make unique Chinese architecture be one of the three greatest architectural systems.

Ancient Chinese architecture features unique timber framework, the top load of a structure will be transferred to its foundations through
its posts, beams, lintels and joists. And color is the main ornament used on the ancient Chinese architecture. The painting will give the
structure a clear-cut and a magnificent image, it is unique that such sharp color can achieve artistic effects.

Buddhist Architecture
Chinese Buddhist architecture consists of temple, pagoda and grotto. Localization starts right after Buddhist architecture was introduced
into China with Buddhism during the Han dynasty, interpreting Chinese architectural aesthetics and culture.
Chinese Buddhist architecture follows symmetric style strictly. Usually main buildings will be set on the central axis, facing the south.
Annexe structures will be on the west and east flanks. Temple gate, Heavenly King Hall, the Main Hall and Sutra Library successively
stands on the axis. Dorm, kitchen, dinning hall, storehouse and antechamber usually cluster on the right side while left side remains for
the visitors.
Pagoda is also the main integrating part of the Buddhist architecture, with varied styles and strong local flavours. Pagoda followed
Buddhism into China around the first century, and developed into pavilion-like pagoda on which one can view scenery after immediate
combination with traditional Chinese architecture.
Another Buddhist architecture is grotto complex which is caves hewn on cliff walls, usually huge projects and with exquisite engravings.
It came from India with Buddhism too and boomed during the Northern and Southern dynasty. The famous Mogao Caves, Yungang
Grottoes and Longmen Grottoes were all carved then.

Taoist Architecture
Taoist architecture includes various structures according to different functions, categorized as palace for oblation and sacrifice, altar for
praying and offering, cubby for religious service, residence for Taoist abbes and garden for visitors.
In the former style, traditional architectural layout, which is symmetric, will be applied. Main halls will be set up on the central axis, while
other religious structures on the two sides. Usually, on the northwest corner of the complex, Lucky Land to Meet God will be located.
Annexes like dining hall and accommodation will locate at the back or the flank of the complex.
The second is the Bagua style in which all structures surround the Danlu (stove to make pills of immortality) in the center according to
Bagua's position request. The center axis from the south to the north is very long and structures flank the axis. The style reflects Taoist
philosophy that the human cosmos follows the natural cosmos to integrate energy, qi and spirit.
Most Taoist architectures resort to nature topography to build towers, pavilions, lobbies and other garden structural units, decorated with
murals, sculptures and steles to entertain people, fully interpreting Taoist philosophy of nature.
Taoist architectural decoration reflects Taoist pursuit of luck and fulfillment, long lifespan, and eclosion into the fairyland. Taoist
architectural motifs are all meaningful. Celestial bodies mean brightness shining everywhere while landscape and rocks immortality.
Folding fan, fish, narcissus, bat and deer are used to imply beneficence, wealth, celestial being, fortune and official position, while pine
and cypress stand for affection, tortoise for longevity, crane for man of honor. There are many other symbols very traditional and Taoist
decorations root deep in Chinese folk residential houses

Chinese Temple
It is difficult to estimate how many temples there are throughout China. The word temple in English means: a building dedicated to
religious ceremonies or worship. So, it included all religious buildings which consisted of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam and
other religions into Chinese Temples to write this article.
Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism are three main religions in China. Although they have never acquired such important roles to be
considered to dominate the political system in China's history as Christianity or Islam has done to some western countries. However,
they do have deep influence on the development of China's politics, philosophy, art and social cultures. Chinese temples, range in size
from back-alley Taoist hut to magnificent Tibetan Buddhist Drepung Monastery, the largest and richest monastery, which covers an area
of over 200 thousand square meters.



Garden Architecture
There are many classifications according to different criteria. Herein garden architecture falls into four categories.

Imperial gardens: These gardens, usually spacious, exquisite and grandiose, were built for royal families by thousands people. Images
of these gardens will linger in one's mind forever. Now most former imperial gardens are in Beijing. Such as Summer Palace, Chengde
Summer Resort, Beijing Beihai Park.

Private gardens: These gardens are usually built in urban areas, neighbored with residences. Since land is expensive in cities private
gardens are generally small and simple but delicate and look tasteful and play multiple functions. Most famous private gardens are
situated in Suzhou, Jiangsu. Such as Humble Administrator's Garden, Canglang Pavilion, Lingering Garden in Suzhou.

Monastic gardens: These gardens are commonly found in monasteries against quite and verdant mountains. With natural beauty, these
gardens are solemn within the sacred atmosphere.

Garden architecture in scenic resorts: These gardens usually occupy large public areas since they are based on the combination of
natural scenes and man-made landscape and structures in suburb area or mountains.



Imperial architecture
Imperial architecture will feature imperial mausoleums and imperial palaces, which are always splendid and magnificent.
Imperial mausoleum architecture accounts for a major part in ancient Chinese architecture since they usually stand for the highest
architectural techniques of the time. Emperors would often force thousands of the nations best architects to build these structures. They
would withdraw millions, even billions from the exchequer to fund their tombs. These tombs were always magnificently deluxe and
consisted of finest structures of the period. These mausoleums were usually built against hills or mountains and facing plains. Most
imperial mausoleums have broad ways called Shenlu (the Sacred Way) at the entrance. Along both sides of the Shenlu, there are stone
sculptures of men and animals which guard the tombs. Other imperial structures were also built beside the tomb. Under huge hills of
clay, splendid and superior structures were constructed with fine facilities such as drainage systems.
During the long Chinese history, emperors of different dynasties kept building palaces. Since palaces are where emperors live and
practice their reign, palaces of different dynasties integrates essences of Chinese architecture. The famous palace complex, Efanggong
built by and for Qin Shi Huang Emperor. Can you imagine that its Front Palace, built more than 2,000 years ago, covered 80,000 square
meters and could hold 10,000 people? The Weiyanggong of the Western Han Dynasty had more than 40 palaces within a periphery of
11 kilometers. The Forbidden City, also called the Imperial Palace, which was set up under the reign of the Ming dynasty and still stands
intact, covers an area of 720,000 square meters and consists of more than 9900 palaces and other structures. It is the grandest and
biggest palace in the world.

The Number "Nine" and Imperial architecture
Nine carried a special meaning in ancient China when it was deemed that odd numbers represent Yang while even numbers Yin. Since
nine is the largest odd number under ten, it was regarded the extremely lucky number. So, emperors liked to monopolize it to symbolize
their superiority. Designs related with nine appeared almost on every imperial structure such as palace. For example, on gates of the
Forbidden City, there are 81 gold-plating bronze studs which were arranged in nine columns and nine rows. Ancient palaces usually
were designed to be nine-section architectural complex. Based on the same reason, number or size concerning imperial architecture
often equals or multiples nine.

Dragon and Phoenix
Dragon and phoenix, called Long and Feng in Chinese respectively, are totems of Chinese people. They were used to represent
emperors and their consorts and were the main decorative patterns to be seen on various imperial structures. Palaces, columns,
pathways and screen walls were all inscribed or carved or painted with their images.



 
 


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