Stories of Ancient Chinese Architecture (Illustrated Version)

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Ancient Chinese architecture is an integral part of the rich and time-honored Chinese culture and an important component of the world architectural system. It is most famous for the Great Wall, but there are so much more. In 7000 years, Chinese people developed unique architectural philosophies, structures and techniques that are very different from their counterparts in other places of the world.

About Author

张慈贇,Born in Shanghai in 1949, ZHANG Ciyun (Peter) graduated from Jilin Normal University, PRC with a major in English and later from Stanford University in the United States with a Master's Degree in Journalism. Since 1980, he has worked for several newspapers and magazines in both Beijing and Shanghai. Also, he once served in the General Office of the Ministry of Communications as an interpreter and the Information Office of Shanghai Municipality as its Deputy General Director.

An acclaimed translator, reporter and editor, Mr.Zhang has helped bring into existence four English-language newspapers on the Chinese mainland,namely, China Daily, Beijing Weekend, Shanghai Star and Shanghai Daily. He is now the Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Shanghai Daily and an executive council member of Translation Association of China.He has translated and co-translated more than a dozen books and a large amount of documents, includingStrange Stories of Liao Zhai Studio and the English version of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. He has also published many English and Chinese articles and theses in newspapers and magazines both in China and overseas.

Table of Contents
故宫 The Palace Museum
Forbidden City — the dragon’s jewel
阿房宫 Epang Palace
Grandest palace remained a dream
布达拉宫 Potala Palace
The tallest ancient palace
大明宫 Daming Palace
Once world’s largest imperial palace
皇家坛庙 Imperial Temples
Imperial temples, altars dot Beijing
颐和园 Summer Palace
A best preserved imperial park
圆明园 Old Summer Palace
‘Versailles of East’ destroyed in war
华清池 Huaqing Pool
A pool where power and lust collide
秦皇陵 Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Grand mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
乾陵 Qianling Mausoleum
China’s only empress rests at Qianling Mausoleum
十三陵 The Ming Tombs
Thirteen emperors’ burial sites ‘masterpieces’
长城 The Great Wall
Wall part of complex defense network
西安城墙 The Xi’an City Wall
Defense included ingenious features
苏州城墙 The Suzhou City Wall
Wall very effective against invaders
登封观星台 Dengfeng Observatory
Tower used to make age’s best calendar
岳阳楼 Yueyang Tower
Yueyang tops among ancient towers
白马寺 White Horse Temple
Dream led to China’s first Buddhist temple
悬空寺 The Hanging Temple
Ancient architects produce spectacular mountain temple
五台山 Mount Wutai
Temple mount full of treasures
大昭寺 The Jokhang Temple
Tibet’s sacred monastery a living relic
应县木塔 The Sakyamuni Pagoda
Shanxi pagoda world’s oldest wood tower
大理三塔 Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple
Yunnan’s Buddhist gems offer quiet beauty
莫高窟 Mogao Grottoes
Spiritual, artistic and architectural wonders
化觉巷清真寺 The Great Mosque of Xi’an
Great Mosque stands the test of time
苏公塔礼拜寺 Emin Minaret Mosque
Worshippers, tourists revere this towering symbol of Islam
永乐宫 The Palace of Eternal Joy
Huge Taoist temple in Shanxi known for murals, Yuan styling
四合院 Beijing Courtyard House
Traditional dwellings designed with care
皖南民居 Southern Anhui Village Residences
Anhui’s rural gems of home building
石库门 Stone-Framed-Gate House
City lanes fuse Chinese, Western styles
窑洞 Cave House
Northern China’s cave houses last centuries
山西民居 Shanxi Courtyard House
Ancient Shanxi houses strong yet elaborate
客家民居 Hakka Walled Village
Walled villages built for families, defense
干栏式房屋 Stilt House
Building a home above land or water
骑楼 Arcade Building
Veranda-style buildings populate the south
开平碉楼 Kaiping Tower
Guangdong towers show Western influence
豫园 Yuyuan Garden
Classic garden a place of rare tranquility
苏州园林 Classic Gardens of Suzhou
Creating harmony between man and nature
岭南园林 Lingnan Gardens
Southern Chinese gardens open, natural
梁桥 Beam Bridge
Bridge building in China spans 6,000 years
拱桥 Arch Bridge
Arch bridges combine function and beauty
悬索桥 Suspension Bridge
Providing a connection through history
书院 Academy of Classic Learning
Academy designs display beauty of simplicity
会馆 Guild Hall
Ancient homes from home
曲阜孔子庙 Temple of Confucius, Qufu
Much thought went into philosopher’s temple
祠堂 Ancestral Temple
Homes for those no longer of this world
Sample Pages Preview

长城 (chang cheng)
  The Great Wall
  One of the Eight Wonders of the World
  The Great Wall is believed by many to be one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of mankind - as such, it is often called one of the Eight Wonders of the World.
  People often credit Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC), the First Emperor of a unified China, as the builder of the Great Wall. But con- struction of the wall actually started during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) and the Warring States Period (476-221 BC), long before Qin Shi Huang's time, and it was rebuilt for several times in later dynasties.
  However, the First Emperor did order additional construction and connection of various sections of defensive walls to form the Great Wall in northern China to fend off nomadic invaders. Unfortunately, most of the ancient walls built during the Qin time have disappeared and the existing wall we see today was mostly constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
  Built with bricks, rammed earth, stone and wood, the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty stretches more than 8,850 kilometers from Hushan in northeast China's Liaoning Province to Jiayuguan in northwest China's Gansu Province. Most Chinese people call it Wanli Changcheng, meaning literally "Ten Thousand Li Long Wall." Li is a traditional Chinese measure of distance, equaling 500 meters or half a kilometer.
  The average height of the wall stands at 7.8 meters, but in some sections, it reaches 14 meters. Since most segments of the wall were built along mountains, the height of the wall rises in relatively level places and drops on steep ridges.
  To ensure that two heavy, horse-drawn carts could rumble along side-by-side along the top of the wall, most portions of the Great Wall are quite wide, measuring an average of 6.5 meters at the bottom and 5.8 meters across the top of the wall.
  While planning the route of the wall, the builders made the best use of advantageous topographic features, such as high mountains, steep cliffs and sharp river bends, to amplify the wall's function of defense and also to save labor and resources.
  In earlier days, the walls were mainly built by filling wooden frames with earth and small stones. After the earth and stones were tamped solid, the wooden frames were removed.
  During the Ming Dynasty, mass production of bricks and tiles became popular. As a result, the Ming Great Wall was mostly built with bricks of different sizes and shapes, depending on whether they were used for the wall body, stairs, battlements or gates.
  The bricks made the wall stronger and last longer both in battles and in the fight against the elements.


Ancient Chinese architecture is a beautiful gem as well as an integral part of Chinese culture. It is also one of the three greatest architectural systems in the world, the other two being European and Arabic architecture.
As Liang Sicheng (1901-1972), a renowned Chinese architect and “father of modern Chinese architecture,” once pointed out that the architecture of China is as old as Chinese civilization. Some archaeological discoveries indicate that Chinese people began to develop a unique construction style as early as more than 7,000 years ago.
During the following centuries, Chinese artisans, builders and architects had invented a great number of ingenious tools, construction parts, structures as well as architectural designs, techniques and styles. They had also married the art and science of designing and erecting buildings with Chinese philosophy, religion, local customs and the traditional system of social hierarchy.
As time went by, many beautiful and grandiose buildings, such as palaces, temples, mausoleums, bridges and distinctive dwellings were built all around the country and some of them, such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the First Emperor’s Mausoleum featuring life-sized terracotta warriors are still in existence today.
Of course, there are so much more.
Traveling around China today, you may cross a bridge that was built several hundred years ago; or you may stay for a night in a courtyard or a cave-house that have been the traditional dwellings for the local people for centuries.
It is a feast for your eyes to visit famous temples, palaces and old gardens featuring exquisite designs and decorations in different part of the country. However, what’s more interesting or even enlightening are the historical stories behind the walls of these buildings.
In this book, the authors will tell you many of such stories and will guide you as you knock on the gate of this ancient kingdom.

 Sample pages of Stories of Ancient Chinese Architecture (Illustrated Version) (ISBN:9787532774135)
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