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Tracing the Elements of Chinese Architecture: Courtyards, Beam Systems, and Sunk Panels

Author: XIE Jing
Publication Date:2022.12.01
Page Count:168

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Courtyards, bracket systems, and sunk panels are the three essential elements of ancient Chinese architecture that go a long way back. The academic world’s discussion on these three has never ceased. Architectural practice has also been influenced by these Chinese elements, especially in significant public and cultural buildings, where they have been innovatively interpreted. However, the majority of current academic research focuses on their typology and structural functionality, while little attention is given to their cultural significance. Perhaps it is due to the lack of foundational research on the humanistic culture that modern architectural practice often treats courtyards, bracket systems, and sunk panels merely as spatial, structural, and visual elements.This book traces the origins of courtyards, bracket systems, and sunk panels in early China, as well as their various interpretations in the Han Dynasty related to themes of heavenly realms and ascension to heaven. The basic materials for this study primarily include archaeological discoveries from the Neolithic era, bronze ware from the Shang and Zhou dynasties, palace and temple ruins, stone tombs from the Han Dynasty, stone reliefs, bronze mirrors, as well as ancient texts and documents. Through this research, readers can observe how courtyards, bracket systems, and sunk panels effectively conveyed the ancient Chinese people’s cosmology view, worldview, and philosophy of life. In the realm of architectural art, they embody a connotation and quality that transcend rationality, are full of imagination, and are imbued with religious mystique.

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