Magnificent survey – Chinese Architecture

This 2019 book published by Princeton University Press is a magnificent history of Chinese architecture from the earliest periods of Chinese history to the present. Each dynasty is covered beginning with a succinct overview of the political history before moving on to describe the palace, tombs and buildings styles.

The writing is clear and easy to follow. The pictures are sharp and illustrative of the concepts of Chinese architecture described.

The pagoda as a unique Chinese architectural form, distinct from the stupa form, is well illustrated with numerous pictures. Nancy states that this form evolved from the stupa and inspired by the que/ free standing pillars more compatible with Chinese timber – frame construction. {p 50}. However, Mark Edward Lewis, in his China between Empires the Northern and Southern Dynasties, states that the pagoda was inspired by a passage in the Lotus Sutra that talks of a great bejeweled seven storey tower. {p 105}.

Chinese bridges as a form is not as comprehensively covered. The emphasis is on cities, tombs and buildings designs. Highly recommended.

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