Ancient Chinese Architecture

Ancient Chinese architecture has developed to a distinctive style with a long history over 6000 years from the primary shallow hole-houses to the latest graceful gardens in Qing Dynasty. Miracles are made in skilled techniques and delicate designs by the industrious ancient Chinese people which are still intact standing there giving a speechless and breathless to the modern, the marvelous Great Wall extending on the high mountains and lofty hills, the Anji Bridge in Zhao County with the perfect combination of technology and art design, the Simu Temple which is the highest timber structured tower in the world in Ying County, the largest and intact existing complex, the famous Forbidden City, in addition, the classical garden is a gorgeous pearl of the Chinese cultural heritage with its distinct art style. All these exquisite architectures in the ingenious style are the momentous components of the ancient Chinese culture, which are not only the fine arts for appreciation and enjoyment but also the vivid historical records of China.  

History of Ancient Chinese Architecture
In general, the materials and structures of ancient architecture changed little in the history; while in different times, there are some featured differences in the styles because of the diverse concepts and values about beauty. In ancient society, there is often a strong closure among nationalities and areas; while in the times of a unified dynasty, it is often a time of a big national integration, kinds of culture are quickly fused together that new elements are brought into the architecture. Throughout the Chinese history, there are three famous national integrations, and thus three architecture styles accordingly, the Qin and Han style, Sui and Tang Style, Ming and Qing style.

Qin and Han Style
Main features of ancient Chinese architecture are already formed in Shang (1600 BC–1046 BC) and Zhou (1026 BC–256 BC) dynasties. The courtyard is built in symmetric layout in square and regular, architecture in wood beam frame, and the monomer shape always consists of roof, body and base of which the roof is the key part accounting for a big proportion. The northern style and the Yangtze and Huai River style are the two main styles at that time.

In the unified Qin Dynasty (221 BC–206 BC), the government unified the style based on the former two ones. Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD) has inherited and developed the Qin style. The representatives of Qin and Han style are the capital city, palaces, tombs and ritual functioned buildings. In general, the capital city is divided in regular ways and each part isolated from the other with high walls. The palaces and tombs are always built into complex and the main building is always a terraced pavilion. Architecture in Qin and Han are built with symbolized meaning in symmetric layout with distinct form and large roof, exaggerate shape, huge scale and many colorful cravings in strong tone.

Sui and Tang Style
Wei, Jin, South and North dynasties (220-589) is an important period that the architecture style has changed a lot. It is a period with many independent states that kinds of cultures are integrated and Buddhism is unprecedented flourishing. Some scholars tend to secluded in mountains and countryside, and the south graceful scenes are gradually developed that the Chinese garden art sprout out at that time.

In Sui (581–618) and Tang (618–907) dynasties, more communications with the western regions brings new elements in architecture; the tradition style and exotic style create a fresh style. In this time, the capital city is built to be grand and magnificent in regular layout; the palaces and temples are also built grand in a vast area. All the architectures are in heavy shape with gorgeous and luxurious decorations; temples and pagodas are particularly rich and varied in the scale, layout and tones.

Ming and Qing Style
After the Tang Dynasty, the commodity economy is developed greatly and the life in cities is more colorful that people’s concepts of beauty changed a lot. It is finally during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), especially Qing Dynasty (1636–1911) that the ancient Chinese architecture is mature. The cities remained in regular layout, while the lanes and markets are opened with various shops; there are more developed scenic spots and public places; important complexes are built in regular layout while the sequences are various; the residential houses and ethic buildings are improved in a higher level in the quality and art value; gardens are spring up with mature techniques. In brief, architectures are generous and magnificent, they are rigorous and clear in mechanism and designed with feelings and affections; the classical style of the ancient Chinese architecture is finally formed in the Qing Dynasty.

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