Posted: April 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

One of the oldest civilizations. Forms and motifs develop early and repeat often due to the culture’s respect for age and tradition.

  • Architecture
The chinese valued the site , pattern of the building, and tradition of the building itself. Architecture is governed by ordering systems such as axiality and hierarchy. Few stylistic changes occur over time. Traditional palace complexes, as centers of the government continually reflect historical design features that inspire through their monumental scale and beauty. Construction detailing, decoration, and color articulate a design language of beauty based on principles of Feng Shui. Color, form, and orientation may be symbolic. Social position and function determine the size, plan, and amount of embellishment.
Plan of Forbidden City, Beijing
Pagodas (buddhist temple in the form of a tower) , Shrines, Temples, Monasteries, Mausoleums, commercial structures, imperial palaces, both urban and country.
Jinlong Canyon hanging monastery, Shanxi Provence, China
Pagoda of Long-hua, Shanghai
Summer Palace, Beijing
Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Site Orientation
Chosen and planned partially and spiritually, Orient to the south (superiority) toward the sun, away from the cold (evil) north from which barbarians may come. Main buildings are set on a North-South axis, while lesser buildings are set on a East-West axis. Buildings stand in isolation. Bridges, courtyards gates, and other structures create a series of view and connections.
Bridge near Leshan Grand Buddha
Chinese are noteworthy for its variety of gateways. Vary in size, and serve as important focal points fo entry and emphasize procession along a linear axis. Elaborate designs include geometric shapes that may be round, scalloped, rectangular, or angled. Small gate pavilions surmounted by guardhouses, punctuate exterior walls, with bright colors accenting the opening.
Huating Temple gateway, Kunming
Floor Plans
Modular, consisting for rooms and courtyards, can be added or subtracted at will. Function and respect for traditional govern and placement of individual rooms. Public rooms are large, centrally located and placed on a processional axis. In palaces, axis develops through doors placed on a North-South orientation allowing royalty to walk from the main entry door through a vestibule to a large throne hall. Doors are located on the long side and not on the gabled end.
Stand on foundations of earth with terraces of marble, brick, or stone. Wood or stone columns raise from stone bases. Columns may be round, square, octagonal, or animal shaped. Above, a bracketing system supports the roof which is tiled and curves upwards.
Plain to elaborately embellished. Entries are important, usually feature decoration and color.
Facade of a building in China
Usually rectangular with wooden shutters or grilles.
Rectangular, made of paneled wood, embellished with carving, painting, and gilding. Some have latticework or fretwork.
Usually upward facing to deter evil spirits. Single or double hipped, gabled on important buildings, and occasionally flat. Shed (pent) is common on taller buildings. Ceramic tiles in rust, yellow, green, or blue. secured to the rafters by fasteners with decorative animal motifs (chi-shou). These Motifs symbolize authority, protection from evil spirits, and blessings of the gods.
  • Interiors
Chinese Interior Elevation
Feature large windows and doors that open to exterior courtyards and gardens. Formality  and symmetry govern shapes, arrangement of doors and windows, and furniture placement. Hierarchy is important for room and furniture placement.
Strong and bright (pigments are seldom mixed). red (Fire, Symbolizing happiness on doors or buildings), yellow (earth), gold, green (prosperity), and blue (heaven). Also used in decorations such as paintings and carving.
Large windows allow natural light, and Lamps give minimal artificial light.
Dirt, wood, or masonry are common. Marble is used for important rooms in palaces. Felt, rugs, mats, and pile rugs are also used.
Plain or partially embellished, natural wood.
Feature fretwork or grilles to integrate interiors and exterior walls.
Silk, damasks, brocades, and embroideries.
Silk Cocoon Dragon Textile
Important rooms may feature repetitive geometric designs with traditional motifs. Beams that are elaborately carved and painted often divide ceilings into sections.
  • Furnishings and Decorative Arts
Furniture, like interiors, exhibits formality, regularity, symmetry, and straight lines. Generaly relies on simplicity, structural honesty and refined proportions for beauty instead of applied ornament. Imperial pieces are often massive and/or embellished. Follow temples that reflect boxy form with limited diversity in visual images.
Stools, chairs, couches, beds, chests, cabinets, and tables.
Different furniture
Distinctive Features
Legs may be quadrangular with soft corners, circular, elliptical, or cabriole. The hooft foot with  a slight inward curve is typical.
Lines against or at right angles to the wall. NEVER ANGLED!!! Place of honer is far from the door as possible, facing South and at hosts left. Arm chairs are seats of honor.
Solid local woods such as: red sandalwood, rose-wood, chestnut, elm, oak, and imported ebony. souther pieces use bamboo. Lacquer, red lacquer (highly prized), made by hand.
Stools have four legs or may be cylindrical drums, couches also used for sleeping are large with low backs and arms, the backs are solid and feature fretwork.
Tall with stools support dining, writing, or form units with zow chairs. Generally are square or round. Rectangular side tables line the walls and are used for display, writing, and painting. some have four legs, others have trestle bases, stretchers, and are single or doubled.
Chests and cabinets, small and large.
Storage Cabinet
Movable canopy bed is rectangular with low railings, four to six post embellished with latticework, fretwork, and draperies. Used for sitting or reclining in the day. Usually the short legs terminate in hoof feet.
Wedding Bed
Decorative Arts
Carved lacquerware, bronze and porcelain vases, and collections of jade.
Jade Pendent
Horse sculpture
Interiors commonly feature screens, folding or set in a frame. Lacquered or painted in bright colors with symbols of health and happiness. Coromandel is a screen that is polychrome lacquer with inlays of Mother-of-Pearl and other materials.
Chinese Screen
Coromandel screen
Porcelain Jar
Porcelain Urn
Porcelain Vase
Porcelain Plate
  • Design Characteristics
Emphasize taoist qualities such as asymmetrical components, empty space, infinity, parts of elements representing the whole, and nature.
The chinese employ numerous motifs, many symbolic, and can be used alone or in combinations. Common in architecture, interiors, furnishings, and decorative arts. Included are: Lions, dragons, the phoenix, fret, lotus (purity), clouds, fruits, chrysanthemums, the shou (long life), and calligraphy. Others are: the bat (Happiness, five bats represent  the five blessings — Longevity, wealth, serenity, virtue, and an easy death), pine or evergreens, stork and tortoise (longevity), The eight Immortals are: a tao symbol, flaming wheel, endless knot, and state umbrella are buddhist emblems. Animal motifs are: Lions of Buddha, tiger, dragon and phoenix.
Dragon Motif
Five Bats
Lions of Buddha
Stork and Tortoise

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