28 March, 2021

The most delicately arched , chiseled and nicely decorated Chinese traditional edifices and castles bear testimony to a glorious civilisation and a sophisticated architecture.

The ancient buildings of China constructed out of timber are composed of three parts, podium, main body and pitch roof. The main building and the other parts are combined symmetrically along a North-South axis. Another special feature of the ancient Chinese buildings is the TOU-KUNG that acts as a decorative element. Moreover , it is regarded as a symbol of hierachical organisation. The Ju-zhi that holds the beams and the short columns supporting the beams in between is the system that determines the slope and the curve of the pitched roof. The aesthetical values of these beams and columns were proven to have distinguished the ancient Chinese architecture.

The allurement of Building:

Undoubtedly, the allurement of the ancient Chinese buildings had depended on the roof with the decorated and upward curves. The Chinese roof basically can be divided into four parts. Fudian roof, Xie shan roof, Gable roof and Cuan jian roof.

Fudian roof:

The Fudian roof which is evident in the edifices owned by the chieftains is characterised by the five ridges such as the main ridge and the four sloping ridges adorned with carvings that determine the curvature of the entire roof.

Xie shan roof:

This can be observed in the buildings of secondary importance. Xie Shan consists of nine ridges and a hipped roof encircled with a peristyle. In a way, the Xie shan roof is a combination of Fudian and Gable roofs.

Gable roof:

The Gable roof characterised by four slope ridges and one main ridge had been used by the ordinary people mainly because it had taken much effort to build it.

Cuan Jian roof:

Cuan jian known as the conical roof does not consist of a main ridge. The triple conical roof was used in the Qi Nian Dian which is a hall for prayers.

Suffice to say that in Chinese architecture the vital role had been played by the roof with upward-curved eaves. Speaking of the structure, it is very simple and rectanglular.

The Quadrangle:

The Quadrangle called Si he yuan in Chinese is a large spacious area used by the extended families. It can be said that quadrangle can be seen in palaces, temples, monasteries and government offices. In addition as pointed out by the architects, the houses were rectangle with south-facing doors. Another feature is that the entire complex had been enclosed by buildings and walls. No windows can be found outside the wall.

Symbols of trees:

In the Chinese culture human thoughts and feelings have been injected into the trees and plants and the ancient Chinese had immersed themselves in nature. What has been engraved in the Chinese culture is the respect for life and nature. Therefore, on every side of the Chinese society there had emerged the reflections of the culture. For example, the main material used by the ancient Chinese to construct buildings was timber because trees had symbolised life according to the Chinese culture. Moreover, the roots of constructing houses out of timber can be traced back thousands of years in China.

According to the records, it is the material that has distinguished the Chinese architecture from the western architecture. In the western countries unlike China, stones had been used by the architects in constructing churches in order to create an impression embedded with mysteries. But in China we can see the buildings constructed out of timber. Furthermore, the ancient Chinese had used stones to build mausoleums because the stones had symbolized only lifelessness.

The sturdy and tall pine trees that symbolise a strong-minded personality and the plum blossom of which the colour and posture are favoured by the Chinese and the bamboo trees had symbolised the temperaments and the feelings such as loftiness and chastity. The aquatic flowers such as the lotus and the Lily which grow in mire embody profound and notable life. When speaking of the garden designers of the ancient China, it should be pointed out that the ancient Chinese garden designers were believed to have focused on the representation of nature. According to the designers, It had taken much efforts to portray mountains and water.

Present Chinese architecture:

Needless to say that China is the world’s fastest growing major economy. But unfortunately, as time passed many changes began to appear in the Chinese culture. Western traditions and their lifestyles were gradually absorbed by the Chinese.

Eventually, the ancient edifices supported by the columns adorned with the dragon motifs, castles sheltered by the upward curved roofs and courtyards borded with flowers and plants had become the dinosaurs on Earth because the cancer disguised as the new technology and western traditions swallowed up all the veins of Chinese cultural values leaving only a memory in their hearts.