Ancient Architecture

Ancient Chinese Architecture

Together with European and Arabian architecture, ancient Chinese architecture is an important component of the world architectural system. During its long development, it gradually formed into a style which featured timberwork combining stone carving, rammed earth construction, bucket arch buildings and many other techniques. Industrious Chinese laboring people created many architectural miracles such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City and the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.

Forbidden City, Beijing
Forbidden City, Beijing
Badaling Great Wall, Beijing
Badaling Great Wall, Beijing
 Features: The most significant characteristic is the use of timber framework. Paintings and carvings were added to the architectural work to make it more beautiful and attractive. Ancient Chinese buildings have a long history which can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC - 771 BC). It has its own principles of structure and layout. Through the long development, many wonders have been created by industrious and clever laboring people. Ancient architectural miracles are innumerable ranging from Great Wall, White Horse Temple, Mogao Caves to Summer Palace and Forbidden City.
Intricate painted ceiling of a pavilion
Intricate painted ceiling of a pavilion
The layout of a courtyard is symmetrical.
Symmetrical layout of a courtyard
Ancient Chinese architecture is mainly timberwork. Wooden posts, beams, lintels and joists make up the framework of a house. Walls serve as the separation of rooms without bearing the weight of the whole house, which is unique to China. As a famous saying goes, 'Chinese houses will still stand when their walls collapse.' The specialty of wood requires antisepsis methods to be adopted, thus develops into Chinese own architectural painting decoration. Colored glaze roofs, windows with exquisite applique design and beautiful flower patterns on wooden pillars reflect the high-level of the craftsmen's handicraft and their rich imagination.

The layout of a courtyard complex is also unique to China. The main structure is located on the central axis of a court while less-important structures are located to the left and right. The whole layout is symmetrical. Compared with European architectural style which is open and shut, a courtyard is like a hand scroll of painting which should be unfolded little by little. The scenery is different in each courtyard. Even in moving several steps within the court yard, you will be surprised at the changing of prospects. Likewise from the interior of the buildings the view from no two windows is the same.

 Architecture Styles: There were many different styles of ancient Chinese buildings. All of them are unique and equally exquisite.

Humble Administrator's Garden, Suzhou
Humble Administrator's Garden, Suzhou

 Imperial Architecture
 Traditional Chinese Residence
   Seal-like Compound in Yunnan
   Earthen Buildings of Hakkas in Fujian
   Courtyards in Beijing
   Farmers' Caves in Northern Shaanxi
 Garden Architecture
 Buddhist Architecture
 Taoist  Architecture
 Chinese Temples
   Buddhist Temples
   Taoist Temples
   Islamic Mosques

   Confucius Temples

 China Architecture Culture: Architecture and culture are closely related to each other. Many buildings contain cultural connotations. The cultural facts will help people better understand the architectural structure and the design.
 Feng Shui
 Chinese Memorial Arch

- Last updated on Jul. 17, 2023 -
Questions & Answers on Ancient Chinese Architecture
Asked by Ivana from CROATIA | Jul. 16, 2023 09:56Reply
Small shrined next to buildings
Hi, I saw small shrines next to homes with some candy left inside. They contain little statues of people (1 or 2 usually). What do they represent?
Answers (1)
Answered by Olivia | Jul. 17, 2023 20:54

Well, they are vey possibly Gods of Earth or Fortune. In some cases, they may also be Gods of Doors.
Asked by Rhodora Berangel from PHILIPPINES | Oct. 18, 2020 03:53Reply
What is best date and month for building a house?
I born on October 16,1980
Answers (1)
Answered by Deirdre | Oct. 18, 2020 20:25

Oh, every month has several lucky days for building a house. Would you mind providing a rough time?
Asked by Vihaan from INDIA | Apr. 02, 2019 20:21Reply
Why does ancient Chinese architecture have curved in most buildings?
Answers (2)
Answered by Moria from USA | Apr. 03, 2019 20:35

Most of them is a kind of decoration to make the buildings more beautiful.
Answered by Ryan 12 year old | Apr. 12, 2021 00:45

Its not just because of decoration. Roofs are very important to Chinese architecture: Not only do they protect residences from the elements, but they also have a deeper meaning. For example, temple roofs are curved because Buddhists believed that this helped ward off evil spirits, which were believed to assume the form of straight lines.
Asked by Sage from UNITED KINGDOM | May. 18, 2017 17:28Reply
Why was The Wall built?
Some people say it was for border lines, but there must be a different reason.
Answers (5)
Answered by Penut Butter from AUSTRALIA | May. 18, 2017 17:32

It was made to prevent intruders from entering China
Answered by jandavid from U.S | Dec. 19, 2017 05:56

It was used to prevent Mongols from entering china.
Answered by Jan from UNITED STATES | Jan. 17, 2019 10:35

The purpose of walls like the Great Wall was always defensive. Before China was unified, there were walls not only between China and other countries but between warring parts of China.
Answered by Vihaan from INDIA | Apr. 02, 2019 20:24

It was the state Chu who first built the wall. It was during the Qin Dynasty that the kingdom of Qin united the different parts into one empire. To defend off the invasions from northern invaders, Emperor Qin Shi Huang had all the walls joined up. Thus, the Great Wall came into being.
Answered by Juliana Home from USA | Apr. 08, 2019 15:45

They built the great wall of China because it was to help people from the invaders and help keep China safe.
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