Cultural Symbols in Chinese Architecture

Donia Zhang

Abstract


Culture has been recognized as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, and culture is often viewed as a system of symbols that arises from human interpretations of the world. The cultural codes of symbols and symbolism are imperative to be reexamined for any reinterpretation of a traditional culture. This article explores the origin and meaning of the Yin Yang symbol in Chinese culture, and its subsequent numerological and color applications in classical Chinese architecture, such as Sanqing (Three Pure Ones), Wuxing (Five Natural Elements), Bagua (Eight Trigrams) in courtyard house design, and Jiugongtu (Nine Constellations Magic Square Matrix) and Jingtianzhi (Nine Squares land ownership system) in imperial Chinese city planning. The examples cited are Beijing siheyuan (courtyard houses), the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and Ningbo’s Tianyi Ge library. The paper aims to inspire younger generations to continue Chinese architectural heritage, and respect traditional principles when planning and designing architectural projects. It finally proposes the Yin Yang Yuan symbol to expand traditional Yin Yang symbol, to solve the dilemma of binary thinking and to avoid extremities.

Full Text:

PDF

References


L. Kwok-Keung ‘An interpretation of Confucian virtues and their relevance to China’s modernization’ in S. Krieger and R. Trauzettel, ed., Confucianism and the Modernization of China (Mainz, Hase and Koehler Verlag, 1991), pp. 210-228 (p. 214).

Y. Dunkang ‘The concept of “Great Harmony” in the Book of Changes (Zhou Yi)’ in S. Krieger and R. Trauzettel, ed., Confucianism and the Modernization of China (Mainz, Hase and Koehler Verlag, 1991), pp. 51-62 (pp. 51-52).

F. Capra, The Tao of Physics (Boston, MA, Shambhala Publications, 1975/1999).

R. Kirkland, Taoism: The Enduring Tradition (New York, Routledge, 2004), p. 61.

Journey of Civilization: The Wisdom of Laozi (talk by Zhao Shilin) 20140818 《文明之旅:老子的智慧》. Retrieved September 19, 2016 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTzU4uAl0Ko

T. Kuwako ‘The philosophy of environmental correlation’ in M. E. Tucker and J. Berthrong, ed., Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1998), pp. 151-168 (p. 153).

R. P. Weller, and P. K. Bol ‘From heaven-and-earth to nature: Chinese concepts of the environment and their influence on policy’ in M. E. Tucker and J. Berthrong, ed., Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1998), pp. 313-342 (p. 320).

Qicheng Zhang: The Wisdom of Zhou Yi (CCTV-4 中文国际频道《文明之旅》20160711 张其成《周易》的智慧). Retrieved July 16, 2016 from: http://tv.cctv.com/2016/07/12/VIDE81GQiFyVXJ6OdQ6iIMfh160712.shtml

Ma Bingjian, The Architecture of the Quadrangle in Beijing 《北京四合院建筑》马炳坚编著 (Tianjin, Tianjin University Press, 1999).

D. Zhang, Courtyard Housing and Cultural Sustainability (Oxfordshire, UK, Ashgate/Routledge, 2013/2016).

R. G. Knapp, China’s Living Houses (Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 1999).

R. G. Knapp ‘Siting and situating a dwelling: fengshui, house-building rituals, and amulets’ in R. G. Knapp and K.-Y. Lo, ed., House Home Family: Living and Being Chinese (Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2005), pp. 99-138 (pp. 114-117).

Wang Qiming, Beijing Siheyuan (《北京四合院》王其明著, Chinese edition) (Beijing, China Bookstore, 1999), pp. 57, 90-93.

Liu Xujie ‘The origins of Chinese architecture’ in Fu Xinian, Guo Daiheng, Liu Xujie, Pan Guxi, Qiao Yun, Sun Dazhang, and N. S. Steinhardt, ed., Chinese Architecture (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 11-32.

Qiao Yun ‘Introduction’ in Fu Xinian, Guo Daiheng, Liu Xujie, Pan Guxi, Qiao Yun, Sun Dazhang, and N. S. Steinhardt, ed., Chinese Architecture (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 5-9.

History of Chinese Architecture Editorial Group, History of Chinese Architecture 《中国建筑史》 (Beijing, China Architecture and Building Press, 1986/2009), p. 35.

Pan Guxi ‘The Yuan and Ming Dynasties’ in Fu Xinian, Guo Daiheng, Liu Xujie, Pan Guxi, Qiao Yun, Sun Dazhang, and N. S. Steinhardt, ed., Chinese Architecture (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 199-260 (p. 226).

Luó Zhewen ‘Feng shui theory and ancient Chinese architectural planning and construction (foreword)’ in Luò Zhongzhao, Feng Shui and Modern Residences《风水学与现代家居》骆中钊编著 (Beijing, China City Press, 2006).

China Central Television Discovery Program, ‘Beautiful Chinese Architecture: The Same Strain’ (CCTV-10 科教频道《探索发现》20160318 《锦绣华屋》之《一脉相承》). Retrieved July 4, 2016 from: http://tv.cctv.com/2016/03/19/VIDEOYIZ4hNzPO4L05BWNMlK160319.shtml

China Central Television Discovery Program, ‘Beautiful Chinese Architecture: The Great Forbidden City’ (CCTV-10 科教频道《探索发现》20160315 《锦绣华屋》之《大哉紫禁》). Retrieved June 29, 2016 from: http://tv.cctv.com/2016/03/15/VIDEJspx51jIjO2yFzmFDoLP160315.shtml

Luò Zhongzhao, Feng Shui and Modern Residences 《风水学与现代家居》骆中钊编著 (Beijing, China City Press, 2006).

Liu Xujie ‘The origins of Chinese architecture’ in Fu Xinian, Guo Daiheng, Liu Xujie, Pan Guxi, Qiao Yun, Sun Dazhang, and N. S. Steinhardt, ed., Chinese Architecture (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 11-32.

China Central Television Discovery Program, ‘Beautiful Chinese Architecture: The Varied Vernacular Houses’ (CCTV-10 科教频道《探索发现》 20160316 《锦绣华屋》之《广厦万千》). Retrieved June 30, 2016 from: http://tv.cctv.com/2016/03/17/VIDEuSkD4bNIkJVEhXZfp4hQ160317.shtml (CCTV-10 科教频道《探索发现》 20160316 《锦绣华屋》之《广厦万千》).




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24294/adr.v1i1.211

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2018 Architecture and Design Review

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License