tailor made tour

Ask a Question


I accept the Privacy Policy.

Questions & Answers

Chinese Ancient Architecture

Chinese architecture has a time-honored history and great achievement. The Chinese ancient architecture is one of the important parts of art appreciation. As to appreciate architecture art, besides knowing the main characteristics of architecture art, we need to know some of important aspects of the Chinese ancient architecture.

The detailed elements, colonnades, sandalwood, foundation supports and cornices extracted from Chinese ancient architectures have become the modern architectures languages. Compared to masonry structure system of western ancient architecture, Chinese ancient architecture has its own system. The top four characteristics are as following:

1. Wood-based. Wood-based structure architecture has many advantages: the protection structure and supported structure are separated, therefore, the architecture has nice earthquake resistance, and the materials are easy to get. While it also has some disadvantages such as: easy to get fire, and suffer termite damage, so it’s keeping time is shorter than masonry structure architecture. In China, masonry structure is used inpagoda. The metal used in architecture is bronze,such as: Bowen Palace in forbidden city, Golden Temple at WuDangshan Temple, Bronze Hall of the Taihegong Taoist Temple.

Chinese traditional and ancient architecture Fujian Province

2. Staging system is the main principle in wood-based structure architecture: four columns and sandalwoods consist of a room. Generally speaking, Chinese ancient architecture always has an odd number of rooms, such as three rooms, five rooms, seven rooms, nine rooms. The larger numbers of rooms the architecture has, the class of the architecture is higher, for example, the Taihe Temple in Forbidden City has eleven rooms, and it’s the existing architecture at the highest level. Actually, the shape of roof of Chinese official architecture is large, and magnificence is the most obvious characteristic of ancient Chinese architecture.

3. Dou-gong is the critical part of the timber frame. It has special external frame: many layers of stylobate, colorful curving-slope roof, courtyard type buildings. From the culture relics being unearthed from mausoleum of Han Dynasty, we can find the courtyard type buildings appear in the more than two thousand years paintings. And the magnificent Forbidden City of Ming and Qing Dynasty adopted the complicated enclosed forms.

4. Chinese ancient architecture embodies Chinese ritual system thoughts. And Chinese ancient architecture stresses the hierarchical idea, pattern, scale, color, structure; all of these have strict regulations. To some extent, it developed the architectural form; meanwhile, it restricted the development of architecture. Besides, the ideology of the unity of heaven and man is also demonstrated in the development process of Chinese ancient architecture, which promotes the mutual coordination and integration of architecture and nature.

Quadrangle dwellings in Beijing

Architectural Style
China is a united multi-ethnic nation of 56 ethnic groups, including Han, Miao, Korea minority, and Mongol minority, etc. for the natural environment is totally different in the southern, northern, western, and eastern China, and the building materials are also different. According to their own production needs and living needs, they adopt the materials the natural environment provides to build different architecture, and create their own architecture style.
In loess covered areas of China's Northern provinces, ancient people use loess as material to build their house, then they use loess to make brick, and the building using bricks made of loess is convenient and durable. In the southern part of China, the weather is wet and humid, people build building by bamboo. In Mongolian area, according to the habit of nomadic people, yurt is specific to them. The yurt is easy to disassemble and move. In northwest of China, some architecture has Muslim characteristic. All in all, ancient people would like to use the materials the nature provides to build, which make the architectures with different styles, and make their contributions to Chinese ancient architecture.

Chinese traditional architecture in northwest of China

Development of Chinese Ancient Architecture
In the Paleolithic Age, men lived on fishery and hunting, and were sheltered in trees and caves. In the Neolithic Age, men engaged in raising animals and farming, and settled down by digging caves and by building simple houses with twigs and lumber, thus commencing their architectural activities.

During the 3,000 years of the feudalist society, Chinese ancient architecture formulated gradually its unique system, coupled with a considerable progress in urban planning, garden designing, and house construction technique. In 221 B.C., the First Emperor of the Qin Empire mobilized the resources of the country to do construction works on a massive scale, including A'Fang Palace, the Emperor's Mausoleum, the Great Wall and the Dujiangyan Water-Conservancy Project. From then on, many more massive construction works of lasting fame were carried out in the history of China.