|Neolithic to Zhou (c. 6500–256 BC)
Evidence for Neolithic (c. 6500–c. 1600 BC) architecture consists largely of residential remains. Some of the earliest known building elements come from Hemudu, Zhejiang Province: timber pieces that bear clear evidence of mortise-and-tenon joinery dating to c. 5000 BC have been found. The houses of Hemudu were probably raised on stilts, perhaps a development from the nest dwellings recorded by tradition. In north China, along the Yellow River, by contrast, buildings appear to have developed from a subterranean tradition. At such places as Banpo, in Shaanxi Province, and Banshan, in Gansu, pillar-supported buildings both rectangular and circular in plan have been found. The 45 dwellings and more than 200 tombs excavated at Banpo between 1954 and 1957 included one very large building, sometimes referred to as the Great House, and a kiln. The village had a north–south orientation, a feature that would persist in Chinese building.
Chinese architecture of the Shang (c. 1600–c. 1050 BC) and Zhou (c. 1050–256 BC) periods is well represented by excavated material from six sites: Erlitou, Zhengzhou, Panlongcheng, Anyang, Fengchu and Pingshan. Royal, residential and funerary structures from these sites indicate that many of the general architectural principles associated with the Chinese tradition were in place by this time. Notable features are rammed-earth (hangtu) platforms and walls; the arrangement of buildings around focal courtyards; the designation of main halls, their orientation toward the south, the demarcation of their entry by a gate and their enclosure by rectangular walls; and the conceptualization of building groups by two-dimensional plans.
One of the earliest of the important Shang sites, one with Neolithic origins, is Erlitou, in Henan Province, where architectural compounds elevated on rammed-earth foundations were uncovered. The compounds were originally enclosed either by pillar-supported walls or by arcades. At roughly the north centre of one of them was a main hall that opened to the south. Although not a true example of the bay system, the hall was supported by nine pillars across its longer east–west dimension and by four pillars north–south.
Zhengzhou, today the provincial capital of Henan, is one of the earliest examples of a large city, possibly the second Shang capital, Ao. About 7 km of rammed-earth wall, roughly rectangular, have been found encircling the mid-2nd-millennium BC city. The remains of a building group at Panlongcheng, in Hubei Province, have yielded groups of structures elevated on rammed-earth platforms, including a group of buildings in the north-east containing a four-room hall enclosed by a pillared arcade. The final Shang capital, Yin, at modern Anyang in Henan Province, remains an excellent source of information on all aspects of Shang art and civilization, including both palatial–residential and funerary architecture. The sector of the capital known as Xiaotun, largely residential, included a Great House and smaller residences. Other noticeable architectural trademarks of the period are the elevation of buildings on a platform, timber frames and thatched roofs. Xibeigang, the royal cemetery, contained 11 tombs that probably belonged to Shang rulers, as well as more than 1000 smaller graves. Most of the imperial tombs have a central squarish, stepped chamber approached from the north and south by long ramps and, in a few cases, by shorter ramps from the other two sides. It appears that the architectural principles of the living—the four-sided enclosure and north–south orientation—were carried over to Shang funerary architecture.
Architectural remains of the Zhou people contemporary to the time of Anyang’s flourishing (c. 1300–c. 1050 BC) survive at Fengchu in Qishan County, Shaanxi Province, where the foundations of a building complex consisting of a central main hall, front gate and enclosing rooms have been uncovered. The entire complex was elevated on a platform of rammed earth (32.5 m east–west by 45.2 m north–south). Although no true bay system existed at this pre-dynastic Zhou site, other fundamental architectural principles appear: orientation to the south, a four-sided enclosure, a main, centrally placed building with other architectural components symmetrical to it, and a front gate demarcating the entrance to elevated and enclosed space. Also evident is the use of a connective corridor between the main hall and the back corridor; these three structures form what is known as a gong scheme, named after the Chinese character that resembles a capital I or an H on its side. This formation would occur repeatedly, particularly in imperial and religious architectural complexes, for the rest of China’s building history.
The period of Zhou rule is well known for its numerous walled cities, most of them capitals of the more than 100 states that vied for power during the second part of the period, the Eastern Zhou (771–256 BC). Architectural remains at excavated sites are scarcer, but two areas have yielded extremely important remains of funerary architecture. The 5th-century BC tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, uncovered in Suizhou, Hubei Province, consists of a vertical pit, at the bottom of which are four chambers. The walls were wooden, with charcoal and clay around the wood, making the chamber airtight; a similarly structured contemporary tomb has been found at Xinyang, Henan Province. The architectural arrangement shows how clearly space was differentiated by function; such spatial distinction would continue to be an important principle of Chinese architecture above ground.
Evidence from a royal necropolis of the Zhongshan state, dating to about a century later, has been found in Pingshan, Hebei Province. The most important discovery (for its revelations on Chinese tomb architecture as well as cartography) was a bronze plaque on which was incised a site plan of the tomb. This earliest Chinese plan, dated c. 310 BC based on inscriptions on bronze vessels excavated at the site, shows five large halls orientated north–south, with four small rooms behind them. One rectangular wall enclosed the five larger buildings, and a second one surrounded the entire complex. The occupants of the rectangular halls (presumably funerary chambers), the halls’ dimensions and their distances from other buildings are all indicated.
(II) Qin to Han (221 BC–AD 220)
The first emperor of the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC), Qin Shi Huangdi (reigned 221–210 BC), is credited with having joined the various defensive walls along the northern frontier into the Great Wall Of China. The subsequent Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) maintained many of the practices implemented by Qin Shi Huangdi, but architecturally, Qin building more closely resembles that of the preceding Warring States period (403–221 BC) than it does the constructions of the Han period.
The most important surviving Qin architecture was built for the emperor himself. Qin Shi Huangdi’s tomb, made famous worldwide in the mid-1970's by the excavation of thousands of life-size bodyguards, soldiers and horses, lies about 35 km east of Xi’an at Lintong. Originally it consisted of a double-walled, rectangular area orientated north–south. Its outer enclosure was some 6.4 km in perimeter, and the inner one, with a mound roughly at its centre, was probably over 1 km north–south and more than 500 m east–west. The inner rectangle was centered within the outer walls. The mound may originally have been a truncated pyramid, similar in shape to the partially surviving tumuli at such Han-dynasty tombs as Mao ling, tomb of the Han emperor Wudi (reigned 141–87 BC). The four pits so far found, from which the famous imperial army and other life-sized terracotta sculptures have emerged, lie east of the tumulus. Qin Shi Huangdi’s palaces, long known by descriptions of them in such early Chinese texts as the Shiji (‘Records of the historian’) by Sima Qian (c. 145–c. 90 BC), have also been the subject of excavation. One, known as Palace 1, has been theoretically reconstructed as a two-storey structure enclosed by galleries on all four sides of both storeys. The entire building was raised on a rammed-earth foundation nearly 6 m high, which measured 60 m east–west and 45 m north–south. Architectural amenities included drainage and heating systems, and the floors of the palace may have been painted red.
Palace and tomb buildings comprise the most important architectural remains from the Western Han period (206 BC–AD 9). Palaces were certainly a major concern of Han imperial builders at the Western Han capital Chang’an (modern Xi’an), for the enclosed areas of the Weiyang and Changle palace compounds, the latter surviving from the pre-Han period, occupied nearly a third of the space within the walled capital city. Much of the rammed-earth foundation of the Weiyang palace survives. The tombs of eleven Western Han emperors have been identified in the area around the capital city. Most had their empresses buried beneath a separate mound alongside them. Most were also adjacent to funerary cities.
Han-period tombs may be classified according to four basic types: simplest are the pit tombs, rectangular in plan and sometimes stepped at all four sides. One of the most famous of these is Tomb 1 at Mawangdui, near Changsha, Hunan Province, from the third decade of the 2nd century BC. Structurally more complex tombs from the first half of the 2nd century BC survive near Mancheng, Hebei Province. There the tombs of Prince Liu Sheng (d 113 BC) and his wife, Princess Dou Wan, were excavated into natural rock at ground level. These east–west orientated cave tombs consist of an entry hall with long side rooms, a main central room and a back coffin chamber. Similarly planned multi-chamber subterranean tombs survive from throughout the Han period. Entered via diagonal ramps from ground level, their interior construction was brick; gradually, large hollow-brick tombs gave way to those built from small, solid bricks. The ceilings of tomb chambers and ramps were often vaulted. Several subterranean brick tombs with vaulted ceilings survive near modern Luoyang, site of the Eastern Han (AD 25–220) capital. Others are well known for their wall paintings, including the tomb of a military general at Helingol in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the tomb of perhaps a Grand Councilor at Wangdu, Hebei Province, the tomb of an official at Anping, Hebei Province, tombs of an official and his wife at Mi Xian (Mi County), Henan Province, and several tombs in the vicinity of modern Liaoyang or other locations in Liaoning Province or North Korea. The fourth type of Han tomb is also subterranean and multi-chambered, but its material is stone. A tomb in Yi’nan County, Shandong Province, from the very end of the Han period or possibly a few decades later, is an example of the stone construction known only from the Eastern Han period. The stone walls are covered with relief sculpture, among which are depictions of both a courtyard-style residence and gate-towers.
Both sculptural and painted wall decoration from every province of Han China offer evidence for contemporary architecture, as do grave goods created to provide the accoutrements of life for the deceased. Thus, long before the hundreds of Han graves now known were excavated, the corpus of Han construction was formed from pottery models of multi- and single-storey courtyard-style residential architecture, along with relief sculpture from famous Han tombs at Chengdu, Sichuan Province, from the Wu Family Shrines at Jiaxiang in Shandong and other nearby sites, and from Nanyang in Henan Province. These grave goods and more recently uncovered wall paintings are important comparative material for the study of a Han architectural type fundamental to palatial, residential and funerary construction: the Que, or gate-tower. These were erected at either side of city-wall gates and at the city-wall corners; at entryways to palatial and presumably residential compounds; and as free-standing beacons along the shendao (‘spirit road’) approach to imperial and other important tombs. Three excellent examples of funerary que stand in Sichuan Province: the Ping Yang que in Mianyang, the Shen que in Qu xian (Qu County) and the Gao Yi que in Yaan. The sculptural detail on the Gao Yi que is typical of the 2nd century AD. Its stone roof is a replica of ceramic tile roofing; bracket sets consist of a single cap and a single arm; and a battle scene and si shen, animals symbolic of the four cardinal directions to which Chinese architecture is orientated, are found between the bracket sets.
Composite ritual hall, Chang’an, Shaanxi Province, Xin period, AD 9–23;…Finally, a composite ritual hall () built at Chang’an, probably during the Wang Mang interregnum, or Xin period (AD 9–23), proclaims the architectural principles of later Chinese construction already in place by the 1st century AD. Its plan consisted of a 20-sided building enclosed by a circle, enclosed by a square, enclosed in turn by a second circle. Excavation and reconstruction suggest that the central hall was three-storey and that its base had a maximum width of around 42 m. The second storey of this hall was approximately 17 m wide and 12-sided. On top of it were a central square building and four detached corner towers. The outer square was 205×206 m, with a gate at the centre of each side and corner auxiliary hall. The main structure has been interpreted as a combination of the three imperial ceremonial structures, mingtang (‘bright hall’), biyong (‘jade-ring moat’) and lingtai (‘spirit platform’). The function of the halls, as specified in classical Chinese texts, was to house the performance of monthly ceremonies, observation of the heavens and education. The structure of the hall indicates not only the comfortable adoption of a true bay system but also the incorporation of the two ideal shapes—circle, symbolizing the heavens, and square, symbol of the earth—into an architectural framework. Although any four-sided imperial building of Han or pre-Han China may be said to have been built in accordance with the four directions and their associated symbolism, no circularly planned imperial spaces are known until over a millennium later.
(III) Three Kingdoms to Northern and Southern Dynasties (AD 220–589)
In addition to imperial residential and funerary architecture, new building forms appeared in China in the 3rd–6th centuries AD. The motivation for new architecture was Buddhism, which was known in China during the Eastern Han period but gained popularity only during the nearly four centuries of disunion that followed. The two most characteristic forms of the architecture of the new religion were the pagoda and the cave-temple.
Pagoda at Songyue si, Dengfeng County, Henan Province, AD 523. The earliest dated pagoda that stands in China today is at Songyue Temple (Songyue si) in Dengfeng County, Henan Province. Built in AD 523, the pagoda has 12 sides, four with entrances, and 15 storeys, the dimensions of which gradually diminish towards the top; it has an outer diameter of 10.7 m and an inner diameter of 5.9 m at the base. In AD 544 a four-sided, single-storey pagoda was built at Shentong Temple (Shentong si), Licheng County, in Shandong Province. Both structures may have ultimately derived from the only free-standing, multi-storey structure native to China, the QUE, whose four-sided plan combined with the circular plan of an Indian stupa, itself becoming higher and occasionally sharply cornered as this symbol of the Buddhist faith made its way across Central Asia in the early centuries AD
Excavation of Buddhist temples and shrines into natural rock also originated in India. Buddhist cave-temples from as early as the 4th century AD are found in the north-western region of China that borders Central Asia, and both cave-temples and image-carving spread with Buddhism into central and eventually southern China during this period, before reunification in 581. The most important cave-temple sites of the 3rd–6th centuries AD are Dunhuang and Mt Maiji in Gansu Province; Yungang and Mt Tianlong, Shanxi Province; Longmen and Gong xian, Henan Province; and Mt Xiangtang, Hebei Province. Dunhuang, Yungang and Longmen are particularly important for an investigation of architectural style of the period. Buddhist cave-temples preserved in stone the now-lost architectural types and details of the contemporary Chinese timber tradition. Between the bracket sets are intermediate supports, both straight posts and inverted V-shaped struts, the latter considered a particular feature of the architecture of this period. The exterior façades at cave entrances depict similar features, and in some instances, including Cave 9 at Yungang, pillars have been carved into the rock in front of the entry to create a pillared arcade or covered porch, also a characteristic of contemporary timber construction. The plans of individual caves vary from simple grottoes to multi-chamber, corridor-connected complexes, but each was doubtless a replica of religious building of the period.
(IV) Sui to Tang (AD 581–907)
The period from the end of the 6th century AD to the 9th is important in the history of Chinese architecture for six reasons. First, the earliest surviving timber structures are from the Tang period (AD 618–907), and the vast majority of Chinese buildings are, of course, made of wood. Second, the sites of no longer extant monuments dating to this period have been excavated, and theoretical reconstructions have been made. Third, an example of each type of architecture built during the period—palace hall, temple hall, cave-temple, pagoda, tomb and bridge—survive. (Of palatial architecture only foundations survive, but these buildings have been reconstructed based on excavation.) Fourth, surviving Sui (AD 581–618) and Tang buildings exist in provinces all over China, making it possible to discuss regional stylistic distinctions; prior to the 8th century such an investigation is possible only for funerary architecture. Fifth, paintings of contemporary architecture are preserved on the walls of subterranean tombs and Buddhist caves of the period. Finally, since the Tang was an age of international art styles in Asia, it is possible in certain cases to look to surviving timber buildings in Japan for comparative architectural examples.
The earliest surviving building of this period is the Anji Bridge, sometimes known as the Great Stone Bridge, in Zhao xian (Zhao County), Hebei Province. Credited to Li Chun of the Sui period, the open spandrel bridge consists of a single flat arch across the main span, flanked by two smaller arches on either side of the main spandrel. The principal spanning arch is composed of 28 strings of arches, each 340 mm wide, placed side by side to form its width. The arches incline towards the centre, with the result that the crown of the bridge is narrower than its base. Anji Bridge is the earliest extant example of its type in the world, although such bridges are said to have been built several centuries prior to the Sui, before which pontoon bridges were used.
The next important architecture of the period, the Daming Palace (Daming gong), comes from the primary capital of the Sui and Tang dynasties, Chang’an (modern Xi’an, but not the same site as the Western Han capital). Beginning in AD 634 the second Tang emperor, Taizong (reigned 626–49), expanded his palace halls to the detached precinct, and major building or rebuilding occurred in 662–3. The names of more than 20 structures in the palace complex are known, but only four—two halls and two gates—have been thoroughly studied. Most glorious was the Hanyuan Hall (Hanyuan dian), the eleven-by-four bay main ceremonial hall, measuring 67.33×29.20 m. Upward-sloping arcades known as feilang (‘flying arcades’; 18b) emerged from either side of the main hall (18a); these joined galleries that led southwards at 90° angles to corner towers (18c) raised on high platforms. The exact appearance of these towers is a matter of speculation, but they have been compared with the red-and-white painted gate-towers of Chang’an preserved on the walls of the underground tomb of Prince Yide (first decade of the 8th century AD). Without the ‘dragon tail path’ that approaches it from the south, the plan of the Hanyuan Hall resembles an inverted U.
The configuration of the second Daming Palace hall complex was very different, consisting of three connected rooms, each of a different height. All three were enclosed within a covered corridor that had a gate at each side and a tower at each corner. The front two halls of the east-facing complex had simple hipped roofs, reserved for the highest ranking Chinese structures; the third had a half-hipped roof. Flying arcades emerged from the sides of the hall complex, joining it to the gates of the covered corridor. Two contrasting gate types stood at the palace complex. The most elaborate had five entrances and two storeys, with a simple hipped roof. At least two other gates, at the back of the complex, had the same type of roof but only one passageway at ground-level.
Buddhist architecture of the period survives both at the capital and in the provinces. The Great Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayan ta; h. 64 m), at Chang’an, was first built in AD 652 and restored in 704. It is square in plan, with a bottom storey similar to that of Simen Pagoda in Ji’nan, Shandong Province, and six levels of diminishing size above that. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda (Xiaoyan ta; h. over 40 m) was built at Chang’an several years later; its 13 storeys atop the base are much lower than those of the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, and it has been heavily restored. The other important Buddhist building at Chang’an that has been carefully studied and restored is the Mizong Hall at Qinglong Temple, built by the Zhenyan Buddhist sect.
Numerous imperial Tang tombs survive in the suburbs of former Chang’an from the late 7th century AD and early 8th. The most important are the tomb of the third Tang emperor Gaozong (reigned 649–83) and his concubine, who came to be known as Empress Wu Zetian (reigned 690–705) when she usurped the throne after his death, and the approximately 20 satellite tombs of imperial relations. The tomb of the Emperor and Empress, known as Qian ling, is approached by a long spirit road from the south; the subterranean tomb is built beneath a natural hill. At the northern end of the spirit road were human and animal guardian figures, with sculptures representing an imperial bodyguard, now decapitated, at either side. The main mound was originally enclosed by a wall with one gate at each side: the southern gate was called the Vermilion Bird Gate, also the name of the southern entrance to the imperial sectors that were north of the main north–south thoroughfare of Chang’an. The underground plan probably suggests that the layout of the tomb was based on the architecture of the imperial city above. The plan is anticipated by those of several satellite tombs. Three in particular, those of Prince Yide (d AD 701), his sister Princess Yongtai and his uncle Prince Zhanghuai (d 684), have been excavated and carefully studied. Above ground each was approached by a short spirit road that ended at the southern entrance of a rectangular outer wall. The entrance to the subterranean portion began approximately a quarter of the way into the rectangle, on the same axis as the spirit road. At that point a ramp led down to a two-chamber ‘underground palace’. A narrow corridor connected these chambers so that the three spaces together formed the gong plan, resembling a capital I or an H on its side. The walls of each chamber and the corridor were painted, as were the vaulted brick ceilings of the chambers, and niches at either side of the underground approach stored grave goods; the coffin was placed in the back chamber. Sui- and Tang-period coffins were models of contemporary architecture. That of Princess Yongai was constructed like a palace hall with a verandah and roof. Some closely resembled the Buddhist hall (AD 782) of Nanchan Temple (Nanchan si).
Nanchan si and Foguang si, near Mt Wutai, in Shanxi Province, contain the most important Buddhist halls of the Tang period outside the capital. The simple, three-bay main hall of Nanchan si (11.62×9.67 m) originally stood at the back of the complex, with buildings positioned symmetrically east and west in front of it. The hall’s support system consists entirely of external columns: no interior pillars are used. On the exterior, bracket sets occur only above the columns, never between them. The hall was repaired in the 12th century and fell in 1974 during an earthquake. Most of the original structural members were reassembled after the earthquake, at which time a few new elements were added to ensure structural support.
The most magnificent standing timber-frame building of the Tang period is the main hall (Buddha hall; AD 857) of Foguang si). The seven-by-four bay structure has massive pillars, circular in section, supporting a hipped roof and some of the most enormous bracket sets known in China: from the point at which they join the exterior columns, the three-step bracket sets measure half the height of the pillars beneath them. Cutting through them are two cantilevers, or ang, considered a feature of Tang style and known in no earlier surviving Chinese building Another notable feature of the Tang hall is the omission of a king-post in the roof truss, a component believed to have been added to Nanchan si’s main hall during a post-Tang restoration. The greater size of Foguang si’s hall also necessitated the use of interior columns along the bay lines established by exterior pillars. A full column grid is not achieved, however, because interior pillars are eliminated to allow for the construction of the altar. The arrangement across the front of Foguang si’s east hall may be compared with the engraving on a stone stele at the base level of the Great Wild Goose Pagoda and with depictions of Buddhist paradises in Mogao caves 148, 172 and 217 at Dunhuang, Gansu Province. In each instance the worshipper was positioned at the bottom of stairs looking into a hierarchically arranged group of images on an altar.
(V) Five Dynasties to Song (907–1279)
Central to the study of 10th- to 13th-century Chinese architecture is the survival of an architectural manual called Yingzao fashi (‘Building standards’). First published under the supervision of the minister of the Board of Works, Li Jie, in 1103 and reissued 42 years later, the 34-chapter work explains historical terminology, rules of labor and construction, building materials, the standard grading system for timber and the use of modules and provides several chapters of illustrations. One of only two complete treatises of its type (the other, the Gongbu gongcheng zuofa zeli (‘Engineering manual for the Board of Works’), dates to the Qing period, it has proved especially useful regarding bracket set structure
The architecture of the brief Five Dynasties period (907–79) is known primarily through three tombs and one Buddhist hall. Two of the tombs, located c. 15 km south of Nanjing, belonged to the first two rulers of the Southern Tang dynasty (937–75); the third, Yong ling, is an imperial tomb of the Former Shu (907–25) in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. The subterranean painted and sculpted chambers of the Nanjing tombs are structurally similar to those from the first decade of the 8th century outside Chang’an, except that the two main corridor-connected chambers have become three. The underground portion of the Yong ling consists of a long, vaulted chamber divided into three sections with the coffin at the centre. As it survives today, this consists of a rectangular platform faced with stone on which are carved floral decorations and an important sequence of female musicians playing instruments. An original superstructure has disappeared. The timber Buddhist hall stands about 10 km north of Pingyao, Shanxi Province, at Zhenguo si. Built in 963 by the Northern Han dynasty (951–79), its architecture continued the Tang style of Nanchan si and Foguang si.
The two key locations for Northern Song (960–1127) hall construction are Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, and Zhengding, Hebei Province. A complex of more than 30 buildings known as the Jin Family Shrines (Jin ci) stands about 25 km south-west of Taiyuan. Between 1023 and 1032, on a site with a history from the Zhou period (c. 1050–256 BC), the Song emperor Renzong (reigned 1023–64) built a temple to the Holy Mother, mother of Prince Shuyu, who had with time come to be worshipped. This hall, together with a front hall rebuilt in 1168 and a cruciform bridge over a fishpond between the buildings, is the surviving core of Song-period construction. Holy Mother Hall (Sheng Mu diam), rebuilt in 1102, is a seven-by-six bay, double-eaved structure. Its façade is distinguished by gilt dragons entwined around the pillars of the front porch. Several structural features are characteristic of the Northern Song period, including what looks like a scoop cut into the corner of the cantilever (ang), known as a ‘lute face’ (qinmian), and an almost identical shape given to the head of the beam, called shuatou. The cantilever end is described in the Yingzao fashi and is also found on contemporary buildings in Hebei Province and at a 12th-century building at Foguang si. Also evident in the timber frame of the Holy Mother Hall is that one of the two cantilevers has become non-functional and is purely decorative. A further feature is the additional plate above the lintel, known as a pupai tie-beam, which adds to the lightness and airiness characteristic of Song construction.
Four Song structures are found at Longxing si in Zhengding, Hebei Province. The two earliest, dated to AD 971, are the square-planned Dabei (Foxiang) Pavilion, soaring over 30 m to house a 21-m image of Guanyin, bodhisattva of compassion and mercy, and the Cishi Pavilion, dedicated to the bodhisattva Maitreya. Third is the Hall of the Rotating Sutra Library (restored in the 1950's), a three-by-four bay hall that contains a rotating octagonal sūtra cabinet. The masterpiece of Song architecture, however, is the Moni Hall dedicated to Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. It is distinguished by a covered portico that emerges from the central bay of each of its four seven-bay sides. Dated to 1052, this hall originally stood second along the main north–south axis of the monastery, behind the front gate (fig.) and the Hall of the Six Patriarchs (Daxue liushi dian). Other buildings, e.g. the Sutra Library and the Maitreya Pavilion (figs 22d and e), were placed symmetrically east and west of this axis, recalling palatial buildings of earlier times. Only a precinct for the abbot’s quarters ( fangzhang) was built east of the main axis.
Three other Song buildings are noteworthy. One humble, three-bay, square hall was built at the Buddhist Chuzu Nunnery (Chuzu an) on Mt Song, near Dengfeng, Henan Province, in 1125. In southern China, halls to the Three Pure Ones (Sanqing dian) were built at two different Daoist monasteries named Xuanmiao guan, one near Putian, Fujian Province, in 1016 and the other in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, in 1176.
About 60 pagodas thought to be of Song date survive, many of them in south China, most of them brick and multi-storey. Square plans characteristic of Tang construction were replaced by octagonal and hexagonal bases , and broadly projecting and sloping eaves are common, giving to brick buildings the effect of lightness associated with the timber Holy Mother and Moni halls. The octagonal pagoda of Baoen Temple (Baoen si) in Suzhou, from the mid-12th century, is of this type. It has a feature of Tang and post-Tang pagoda construction, consisting of an additional inner set of walls, forming a gallery between the exterior under weave porches and the hollow inside.
Other famous pagodas of the Song are Tiger Hill Pagoda (Huqiu ta) in Suzhou, boasting the same sort of interior corridor as the Baoen Pagoda but without broadly projecting eaves; the rebuilt Iron Pagoda (Tie ta) in the Northern Song capital of Bianliang (now Kaifeng, Henan Province), named for the color of its exterior glazed bricks; and the seven-storey Six Harmonies Pagoda (Liuhe ta) at Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, the beauty spot that was the location of the Southern Song (1127–1279) capital, Lin’an.
Finally, the tombs of seven of the nine Northern Song emperors, and one imperial Song ancestor, remain in Gong xian, Henan Province. The unexcavated tombs are similar in plan to those of the preceding Tang and Five Dynasties periods. Three non-imperial Song tombs were also found in the same region of northern Henan, at Baisha. Their plans, like those of earlier tombs, comprise two main underground chambers joined by a corridor, i.e. the gong arrangement; the structure of the vaulted ceiling and the bracketing just beneath it replicated contemporary timber construction. A similar tomb site belonging to the Dong family, from after the 11th century, has been found in Houma, Shanxi Province.
(VI) Liao and Jin (907–1234)
All Liao (907–1125) and Jin (1115–1234) architecture was built in northern China, which these dynasties ruled contemporaneously with the native Chinese Northern and Southern Song dynasties. Most of the extant buildings are near the Liao and Jin dynasties’ five capitals. The western capital of both dynasties was DATONG, in northern Shanxi Province, and five Liao and two Jin timber buildings (one restored in 1953) survive at Huayan si and Shanhua si at this one site. The earliest surviving Liao buildings, however, are the front gate (shanmen) and the pavilion of the bodhisattva Guanyin at Dule si in Ji xian (Ji County), Hebei Province. Erected in 984, both preserve much of the architectural style of the Tang period: the three-step, two-cantilever bracket sets that support the roof under eaves of the Tang main hall at Foguang si are used in the upper storey of the Guanyin Pavilion, and the bracket sets that support the balcony and lower eaves of the pavilion are similar to those in the Buddha Hall depicted on the stele at the base of the Great Wild Goose Pagoda at Xi’an. The most marvelous aspect of the Guanyin Pavilion is its interior, which houses a 16-m image of the bodhisattva beneath an elaborate octagonal cupola ceiling. The image stands just 6.5 m lower than the exterior roof of the building.
The pagoda dedicated to Shakyamuni Buddha at Foguang- si in Ying xian (Ying County), about 65 km south of Datong, is also from the Liao period. Built in 1056, it is known as the Timber Pagoda (Mu ta) and is the oldest and tallest wooden pagoda in China, soaring 67.31 m, although the timber portion is only 51.14 m high. The structure is unique: its six layers of exterior eaves conceal its interior construction: five interior colonnaded floors and four perimeter galleries, topped by a roof level. Moreover, 56 different bracketing formations have been identified, many of which correspond to illustrations in the Yingzao fashi of 50 years later.
Indeed, pagoda architecture is probably that for which Liao construction is best known. Three different types of brick pagoda were built at Liao capitals in north-eastern China and what is today the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Although many were restored during Jin rule and again when their monasteries were used by the Manchu’s of the Qing period, their architectural styles are Liao. The first pagoda style was adopted from Tang architecture. Square in plan, it consisted of base, shaft and crown, each of which was sharply differentiated on the exterior. Buddhist relief sculpture almost invariably appears on the shaft sides, and the crown has a series of roofs, often 13. One example of this pagoda type stands in Chaoyang County, Liaoning Province. It is from an original Tang group, one of which was refaced in the mid-11th century, when others were built in imitation of it.
The second Liao brick pagoda style has an octagonal plan, consisting of clearly differentiated base, shaft and crown storeys; the shaft faces may or may not be decorated. One of the most famous examples of this type survives as the oldest monument in Beijing, the pagoda of Tianning si; other examples include the Great Pagoda of the Liao central capital, now Nincheng County, Inner Mongolia, and the White Pagoda (Bai ta) in Liaoyang, Liaoning Province, restored during the Qing period. The third type of brick pagoda is multi-storey. Its base forms the bottom of a series of levels that decrease in perimeter towards the top, and it lacks the thirteen crown storeys so common to the other two types. One example of the multi-level pagoda is the White Pagoda (Bai ta) in Huhaohete (Hohhot), Inner Mongolia.
The main hall of Fengguo si in Yi xian (Yi County), Liaoning Province, also dates to the Liao period. Two other northern Shanxi 12th-century buildings are the main hall of Jingtu si in Ying xian (Ying County) and the hall dedicated to the bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushri, at Foguang si near Mt Wutai, in Taihuai xian (Taihuai County). Jin buildings survive at Chongfu si in Shuo xian, Shanxi Province.
During the Ming period (1368–1644) the Huayan si, located at the foot of a small hill and slightly higher, was subdivided into upper and lower monasteries. A simple five-by-four bay hall (1038) in the lower portion conceals a unique set of architectural sūtra cabinets recessed on three of its interior walls. These masterpieces of Chinese cabinet-making are examples of what the Yingzao fashi calls ‘lesser carpentry’ (xiaomuzuo), or small-scale architecture. They precisely replicate contemporary architectural styles and provide important information on medieval Chinese architecture.
In contrast to the sprawling Huayan si, Shanhua si’s original seven structures were compactly arranged around two courtyards. A front gate (shanmen) provided access to two halls on the same axis behind it, with two side halls and two side pavilions forming east–west counter-axes. The main hall, constructed c. 1060 and rebuilt about 75 years later under the Jin, is a magnificent seven-by-five bay structure known as the Hall of the Powerful Treasure (Daxiongbao dian). A great platform lies at the approach to its central five bays. The five-by-four bay Hall of the Three Bodhisattvas (Sansheng dian), also built by the Jin, is a smaller version of the main hall. The arrangement recalls site planning from as early as the mid-2nd-millennium BC pre-dynastic Zhou complex at Fengchu, Shaanxi Province. The front gate, minimum of two main halls on a central axis and flanking support structures also recall such contemporary Chinese monastic plans as that followed at Longxing- Temple (Longxing si). The plan is one of two types that may be considered typical of Liao and Jin style. The second type is found at monasteries in which the focus was a multi-storey structure. Examples include Dule si and Fogong si, in which the Guanyin Pavilion and Shakyamuni Pagoda stand on the central axis directly behind the front gate.
From the examination of extant halls, several characteristics of Liao and Jin structure are evident. The interior arrangement of pillars, even more than in Tang times, reflects the great importance of the altar and its images, resulting in unique and bold timber framing of the sides and ceiling. In the main hall at the Jingtu Temple, square, hexagonal and octagonal coffers are all supported by pillars standing at the sides of the central altar. In the Manjushri Hall of Foguang si only four interior columns are built into a seven-by-three bay interior. Such elimination of interior pillars from a full grid also occurs in the Hall of the Three Bodhisattvas at Shanhua si, in which there is no ceiling, leaving the roof rafters exposed. In fact, not one of the halls or gates from Ji xian, Yi xian, Datong, Ying xian or Wutai County is built with an interior column grid. Even with fewer interior pillars and complicated ceilings, such as the one in the main hall of Jingtu si, 10th- to 13th-century northern Chinese buildings have proved more earthquake-proof than later halls of different interior construction in the same locations. Other features of some of these halls are the use of many types of bracket sets in one building; a deceptive exterior appearance concealing internal structure, especially with regard to the number of interior storeys; and, in contrast to contemporary Song construction in the south, the occasional use of interior and exterior columns of uniform height.
(VII) Yuan (1279–1368)
The Yuan period was the time of Mongol rule not just of China but also of an empire that extended across the Asian continent. At least 50 structures from this time survive in China or at her borders. Contrary to what one might expect from the historical circumstance of alien rule, the architectural style of these buildings, with very few exceptions, is Chinese, and special allegiance is paid to the Northern Song tradition as preserved in the Yingzao fashi. In southern Shanxi Province alone, five halls and one gate remain from the Yuan period. Four of these structures are at Yongle gong, the Daoist monastery in Ruicheng , and the other two are at Guangsheng xia si in Zhaocheng County, less than 200 km distant. Among these can be observed both the standards of Yuan hall construction and the variation between higher and lower ranking religious halls. The greatest number of high-ranking features observable in a Yuan building is preserved in Dening Hall of Beijue miao in Quyang, Hebei Province. Two important Yuan structures were destroyed this century: Yanghe Tower in Zhengding, Hebei Province, and Heyi Gate from the outer wall of the capital city built by Kublai Khan, Dadu.
The main hall of Yongle gong, known as the Hall of the Three Pure Ones (Sanqing dian) after the Daoist trinity to whom it is dedicated, is a seven-by-four bay hall (28.44×15.28 m). Elevated on a high platform, the base has a front extension ( yuetai) and two smaller side ‘ear platforms’. Each of the latter is approached by a staircase with triangular side casing (tadao), an architectural feature described and illustrated in the Yingzao fashi. The pillars supporting the hall are circular and implanted in bases, and those at the exterior corners are 50 mm higher than the ones across the front. Five of the seven front bays are almost completely covered by lattice doors that emit enough light to compensate for the exterior side walls’ being filled with interior paintings. The tripartite division of latticework on each door panel is similar to that found in contemporary paintings of architecture on silk. Bracket sets are of the sixth-puzuo type (i.e., which mark the hall as of the sixth rank out of a possible eight ranks, as described in the Yingzao fashi), with two intercolumnal sets present at each exterior front bay. The hipped roof was constructed according to the Song system, beginning with the ridge purlin and proceeding downward towards the eaves. On the interior an elaborate coffered ceiling with six caissons was constructed.
Closely resembling the Hall of the Three Pure Ones is Dening dian (the main hall; 1270) of Beiyue Temple (Beiyue miao) in Quyang. In addition to sixth-puzuo bracketing, the highest form that survives from the Yuan period, it also has the hipped roof reserved for the most important Chinese buildings. Fifth-puzuo bracket sets are present in the second and third Yongle gong halls, both dedicated to Daoist patriarchs of the Quanzhen sect, in both halls from Guangsheng xia si and in the Yanghe Tower. An example of a hall with fourth-puzuo bracketing survives in Boai County, Henan Province. A feature of Yuan hall construction that seems almost universal is the yuetai platform at the front of the building. The one hall without it is the main Buddha hall of Guangsheng xia si, which is also one of two examples, with the hall in Boai County, in which pillars are implanted into the platform, without plinths. These two halls, whose details suggest lower rank than the others do, also lack intercolumnal bracketing across the front. Finally, the elimination of interior pillars from a perfect column grid, typical of the previous period in northern China, remained a standard feature of Yuan halls.
Two southern Chinese Yuan halls survive from the third decade of the 13th century. The use of white on the exteriors and the graceful sloping eaves of the main halls at Zhenru si in Shanghai and Yanfu si in Xuanping, Zhejiang Province, are characteristic of southern Chinese style.
Yuan residential architecture survives at excavated sites and in literary descriptions. Descriptive texts detail the architecture and interiors of halls in the palaces of the imperial city Dadu, built by Kublai Khan (reigned 1260–94) beginning in 1267 on the site of modern Beijing. Some ten years of excavation beginning in 1964 uncovered the 13th-century Heyi Gate (Heyi men), along with a portion of the neighboring western outer city wall. Inside the city, the main imperial complex, the Daming dian, was built to the gong plan. The roof of its front hall, like those of the most important buildings, was probably hipped, and it is possible, although no evidence supports this hypothesis, that seventh- or eighth-puzuo bracket sets were used to support its roof eaves. Interior walls were decorated with animal skins, according to Mongol custom, and traditional Chinese silk paintings. Within the outer city wall of Dadu more than ten residential sites have been identified and studied. The mansion at Houyingfang Lane is the most important, its main compound consisting of two buildings connected by a corridor that faced a front courtyard. The arrangement of buildings and their placement with reference to a front courtyard continue the architectural traditions of ancient China.
Mongol rule did, however, introduce a few new features to Chinese architecture. One form mentioned in literary descriptions of Kublai Khan’s imperial city was the luding (‘seal case’) roof, described simply as flat. Contemporary construction from Nepal and Tibet, one of the main areas of cultural influence on the Mongols, suggests that the architectural precedent for a 13th-century building with a luding roof might have been Nepalese–Tibetan buildings. A new pagoda form, often called DAGOBA, was imported from the same region, appearing at Dadu in 1279 as the White Pagoda (Bai ta) of Miaoying Temple (Miaoying si). The inverted bell shape, typical of lamaist Buddhist pagoda architecture, would remain an identifying feature for the rest of lamaist history in China.
Finally, a few buildings demonstrate the influence of Central or West Asian architecture during the Yuan period. The Guangxing Observatory in Dengfeng, Henan Province, built by the astronomer Guo Shoujing in 1276, was probably influenced by West Asian astronomers brought to China by the Mongols. Mosques had been constructed in China since the Tang period, when trade brought West Asians to China, but a number of new mosques were built during the Yuan; the Qingjing si in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, was reconstructed at this period. In Huocheng, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (formerly Chinese Turkestan), the brick tomb (1363) of Tughluq Timur was faced with blue-and-white tiles. Royal Mongols returned to their native Mongolian steppe for burial at unmarked locations, but several tombs, presumably of officials, were uncovered in the 1980's in Shanxi Province, Inner Mongolia and Liaoning.
(VIII) Ming (1368–1644)
In general, a sharper contrast exists between Chinese construction of the pre-Ming and post-Ming periods than at the transition point between any two earlier dynasties. From foundation to roof, there appeared in 15th-century halls new features that soon became standard: changes in column thickness and the column grid, in the function and size of bracket set components, in the pupai tie-beam and in the slope of the eaves and roof construction. Such changes are apparent in imperial and religious architecture, examples of both of which survive in great number, as do the imperial tombs. The Ming is also the first dynasty for which there is substantial information about domestic architecture, and it is also associated with tremendous advancement in garden design .
The earliest surviving example of archetypal Ming imperial construction is the Hall of Heavenly Favors (Ling’en dian), the sacrificial hall at Chang ling, tomb of the third Ming emperor, the Yongle emperor (reigned 1403–24), located about 45 km north-west of Beijing. The nine-by-six bay hall is elevated on a three-tiered marble platform and has two sets of eaves. The front façade uses up to eight intercolumnal bracket sets to support the under eaves, four times more than any building known from the Song or Yuan periods. These bracket sets are small in comparison to the size of the columns, approximately one-fifth of the total height of the column, in contrast to the proportion of one-half column height used at the Tang-period main hall of Foguang si. A progressive decrease in bracket-set size to column height occurred between the Tang and Ming periods. Many parts of the bracket sets, including the projecting diagonal noses that replaced the cantilevers of earlier times, are functionless. The additional pupai tie-beam on top of the architrave and laid flush with it is also narrower, a response to the smaller bracket elements. The exterior columns are uniform in height, as are the interior ones, and the eaves have a reduced slope compared with earlier Chinese construction. The column grid is complete, with no pillars eliminated for the placement of the altar, and every beam is rectangular in section: curved beams, typical since the Tang dynasty, or roughly hewn timbers, occasionally used in the Yuan period, are never used. Every timber support is either horizontal or vertical; the diagonal supports of the roof truss, common in Song and Yuan construction, have been eliminated, giving an overall effect of repetition and rigidity.
The effect of the entire complex, however, could only be called grand. Nestled in mountains, the valley holding the tombs of 13 Ming emperors (Shisan ling) is entered by a five-arched white marble gate signaling the start of the 6.5 km spirit road (shendao) leading directly to the tomb of the Yongle emperor. The spirit road proceeds through the Great Red Gate, Stele Pavilion and pairs of monumental statues of officials, animals and legendary beasts before reaching Chang ling itself. The Hall of Heavenly Favors stands in a line behind the entrance and the Gate of Heavenly Favors and in front of a red gate, altar and stele tower. At that point the rectangular shape created by the courtyards and halls on this main axis is met by a circle, the tomb mound. Underground, the linear axis continues into the multi-chamber tomb, with the coffin chamber at the end. The approach to the subterranean tomb and the circular mound is repeated in each of the other 12 tombs. The earliest of them to be excavated, the tomb (1584–8) of the Wanli emperor (reigned 1573–1620), along the main axis consists of an underground antechamber, two long halls and the coffin chamber where the emperor and two empresses were buried, with side chambers connected to the second large hall via corridors. The plan replicates residential architecture, and it has more rooms and a grander spatial arrangement than any other tombs of imperial relatives or officials yet excavated.
The greatest architectural achievements of the Ming period are the imperial buildings of Beijing, most of them ordered by the Yongle emperor when he moved the capital north from Nanjing in 1421. Although most were substantially restored in the succeeding Qing period, leading to the designation Ming–Qing for their architectural style, the plans of the major architectural complexes and some individual features are Ming. The majority of imperial Ming buildings are inside the Forbidden City (Zijin cheng), with others spread through the northern and southern suburbs at the dynastic altars, complexes constructed for imperial sacrifices.
The Beijing imperial city may be called perfectly planned. Beyond the Meridian Gate (Wu men), the entrance to the Forbidden City, stand the two groups of three halls each that formed the core of the imperial building complex. Most magnificent was the first group, comprising the Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihe men) and three ceremonial halls of Supreme, Middle and Preserving Harmony (Taihe dian, Zhonghe dian and Baohe dian), also known as the Three Great Halls. Although all have been restored, the architectural features of the Hall of Heavenly Favors from the tomb of the Yongle emperor, including the pillars of equal length, eight intercolumnal bracket sets across the front façade and perfect column grid on the interior, are all present in the Hall of Supreme Harmony, which was the location of celebrations marking the New Year, the winter solstice, the emperor’s birthday and the announcement of successful imperial examination scholars. The three inner halls, or Three Back Halls, are similarly planned but not quite so magnificent. To either side of this group were east and west residential halls.
By the end of the Ming period eight additional imperial spaces were spread through Beijing. One complex and two other halls survive intact. The complex, known as the Altar of Heaven (Tian tan) group (and in the West as the Temple of Heaven group), is located south-east of the Forbidden City. Surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped double wall, its three main halls, orientated along a north–south axis, are from the south the Circular Mound (Huan qiu), the Imperial Heavenly Vault (Huangqiong yu) and the Hall for Sending Prayers for a Good Year (Qinian dian). Each is circular in plan, and the first and third is enclosed by a square wall. These two shapes, the circle representing heaven and the square the earth, were used much earlier in the Han ritual hall at Chang’an. The complex also included ovens and halls for the preparation and storage of goods used in the emperor’s performance of prescribed ceremonies at the times of the solstices. The two halls, standing east of the city, include a sacrificial pavilion (1421) built by the Yongle emperor at the twin Altars of the Soil and Grain (Sheji tan), and opposite, the main hall of the Ancestral Temple (Tai miao) complex, rebuilt in 1545. A final outstanding example of Ming construction is the Kuiwen Pavilion (1504) at the Temple of Confucius.
Numerous temples survive from the Ming period, including structures added to existing complexes such as the monasteries at Datong or the Jin Family Shrines near Taiyuan, both in Shanxi Province. One monastery in Taiyuan, with a long history up to the Ming, was the recipient of imperial patronage in the 1380's when the son of the first Ming emperor, Hongwu (reigned 1368–98), enlarged the Chongshan si and dedicated its main hall to his father. Known today for its invaluable collection of early editions of the Daoist canons, the core of the temple complex conforms to the gong scheme, a sign of its high religious ranking: the same plan was used for the front and back hall groups of the Forbidden City and the three main halls of the Altar of Heaven complex. Further south in the province, in Zhaocheng, an important Ming-period pagoda stands at the Guangsheng xia si. Known as the Flying Rainbow Pagoda (Feihong ta), the brick structure is faced with glazed ceramic tiles. Its 13 storeys are distinguished by their sharp decrease in perimeter from the bottom upward; the top storey has a diameter less than one-third of that of the base.
A third noteworthy hall stands at Linggu si in Nanjing. In 1381 the Hongwu emperor rebuilt a hall in brick, a more permanent material than the ubiquitous timber and generally reserved for funerary architecture. This ‘beamless hall’ is one of just a few examples of this architectural type with interior vaulted ceilings; another stands at Xuantong si on Mt Wutai, in Taihuai County, Shanxi Province.
Another apparent innovation of the Ming period is a building type comprising five pagodas clustered together. Represented by the White Marble Pagoda (1473) at Zhenjue si, Beijing, the five pagodas stand on a 5-m high base and may be interpreted as the sacred Buddhist mountain Sumeru, with four peaks surrounding the central one. The plan is said to have come to China with an Indian monk. A similar pagoda, known as the Diamond Throne Pagoda (Jin’gang baozuo ta), was built several centuries later at Biyun si in the Western or Fragrant Hills (Xi shan or Xiang shan) north-east of Beijing.
At Nanjing, Beijing and non-imperial cities such as Xi’an, portions of Ming-period brick-faced wall and adjoining gate-towers remain, as do independent towers for the city bell and drum, features of Chinese city architecture since earliest times but surviving in great number only from the Ming.
Domestic architecture of the Ming period survives throughout China’s provinces. Brick, two-storey houses of generally three bays or fewer and flat side façades are common in the vicinity of Huizhou, Anhui Province. Much more elaborate courtyard-style houses that were famous for their gardens were built in southern cities such as Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Semi-subterranean dwellings are found in China’s northern provinces, where they are still in use today, while in the southern provinces of Fujian and Guangdong, circular-plan communal housing complexes of the Hakka people may be found. By far the most pervasive domestic plan, however, is the house facing on to a courtyard, in use since at least the Han period (206 BC–AD 220). It is usual for the courtyard to be enclosed on all four sides (sihe yuan); even in three-sided complexes (sanhe yuan), the fourth enclosure is implied by the architectural arrangement.
(IX) Qing (1644–1911)
The Qing rulers were Manchu’s, originally semi-nomadic tribes of the north-eastern provinces, who brought with them to the Chinese throne certain of their native ways and traditions. At the same time, a policy of sinicization was adopted. Qing architecture therefore combined newly imported forms—especially those associated with lamaist Buddhism, practiced by many at the Qing court—and traditional Chinese building styles, including the continued establishment and repair of imperial, religious and ceremonial buildings.
A text that elucidates many building techniques of the Qing period is the 74-chapter architectural treatise entitled Gongbu gongcheng zuofa zeli (‘Engineering manual for the Board of Works’; 1734). This treatise and the Song-period Yingzao fashi are the only Chinese architecture manuals that describe the imperial tradition to have survived in full. Although it has no accompanying illustrations, its chapters describe the standard sizes of building frames, different types of bracket sets and uses of materials and labor. Studies of the manual in the 20th century have produced accompanying drawings. Evident in the text is the fact that Qing construction, including the modular unit, proportions of timber members, bracket sets, depth-to-width proportion of beams and the direction of roof construction, was different from that of the Song period. Using these two texts, it is clear that the Yuan was a transitional period in the history of Chinese construction, while the Ming was an age whose architecture anticipated the rules prescribed in the Gongbu gongcheng zuofa zeli.
Typical lamaist construction of the Qing dynasty is evident in an architectural complex in Beijing. In the 18th century the former residence of the Yongzheng emperor (reigned 1723–35) was converted into a monastery called the Yonghe gong, which under Yongzheng’s successor, the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1736–96), was made into a lamasery for the residence and training of 500 monks. Remaining today are five halls and a stele pavilion along a main north–south axis and subsidiary side galleries and towers. The White Pagoda (Bai ta) at Beihai (1651), on the north–west side of the imperial city, is a dagoba similar in style to, though taller than, the one built by Kublai Khan; it is attributed to the Nepalese artist Arniko.
The best examples of Qing-period lamaist architecture are at Chengde, north-east of Beijing, where in 1703 the Kangxi emperor (reigned 1662–1722) commenced the building of a summer palace called Bishu shanzhuang (Mountain Village for Escaping the Heat). In 1767 the Qianlong emperor began the construction there of replicas of famous lamaist monasteries and halls from Tibet, including the Potala Palace in Lhasa. The temples of Chengde are sometimes known as Wai ba miao (Eight Outer Temples) although there were more than eight.
From the same time survive the most important Chinese temples to civil and military officials. A shrine of Confucius had stood in Qufu, his birthplace, since 478 BC, the year after the sage’s death. Continually rebuilt since then, the main hall, the Dacheng dian of what became the Temple of Confucius (Kong miao), was constructed c. 1730. The principal temple complex to the god of war, Guandi, is in Yuncheng, at the southern tip of Shanxi Province. Its main hall, the Chongning- Hall, retains its early 18th-century features. In each case the main hall stands along the central north–south axis of the building complex. Both buildings have a double roof with two sets of intercolumnal brackets supporting the eaves from underneath. Each has a porch, around whose columns coiled dragons are carved in relief, as well as columns of uniform height and roof eaves that stretch across them with almost no slope. In one way, however, the Confucian site in Qufu is different not only from the main shrine to the war god but from any other complex for worship in China. Adjacent to the Temple of Confucius complex is the Kong Family Mansion (Kong fu), awarded to the descendants of Confucius in the mid-11th century. Incorporated into the mansion in the 16th century were the offices of the local magistrate, resulting in a mingling of public and private space, one in front of the other, each built according to the gong scheme. The similar plan to the two groups of three halls in the Forbidden City, Beijing, the front public and the back private, must not have been coincidental. Some halls of the mansion complex date from the Ming dynasty.
Late examples of traditional Chinese architecture are found at the summer palaces of the Qing emperors. Begun in the 17th century, the most famous of them, the Yihe yuan and Yuanming yuan, in the north-western suburbs of Beijing, suffered extensive damage in Anglo-French attacks in 1860. In spite of other pressing monetary needs, the Dowager Empress Cixi ordered the reconstruction of the Yihe yuan, commonly known as the Summer Palace, in 1888. There she kept the Guangxu emperor (reigned 1875–1908) under house arrest from 1898 until his death in 1908. Entering the Yihe yuan from the east, one passes through a gate to the main residential complex of the Dowager Empress, including a stage visible from her post behind a screen in her residential hall, and the complex of the Guangxu emperor. From there a 728-m, raised timber corridor with a painting on each of its 14,000 crossbeams leads to the Foxiang Pavilion (Foxiang ge) raised on a slope of Longevity Hill (Wanshou shan), overlooking the artificial Lake Kunming. Along the walkway beyond the Foxiang Pavilion is the famous Marble Boat, Cixi’s pleasure craft constructed at the expense of improvement of the navy.
The tombs of both Cixi and the Guangxu emperor are among three groups of imperial Qing tombs. The first Manchu rulers were buried in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, near the site of their first capital, before its removal to Beijing after the fall of the Ming dynasty. The first Qing emperor of China, the Shunzhi emperor (reigned 1644–61), selected the site that became known as the Eastern Qing Tombs (Dong ling), in Zunhua County, about 125 km east of Beijing. The fifteen tombs—five emperors, along with empresses, concubines and daughters—share a monumental white stone entry gate, stele pavilion and spirit road (shendao). The above-ground plan of each tomb consists of a rectangular approach to a circular mound, comparable to the Ming Tombs (Shisan ling) north of Beijing. Only the tombs of the