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Architecture and culture are tightly related to each other. Architectural style may be regarded as a
reflection of the life and the culture of the people in a particular history period. Each great architectural work
is an integral part of its own time, and expresses the culture and technology of the particular period in

Architecture styles have greatly changed over the course of time.

Traditional architecture is today but a remnant of the past, an antique ruin which a modern architect may
admire but would hardly seek to imitate. Architectural style changes over time, just like the flows of water
in a river todays water is no longer the same as yesterdays; but in any valid architecture there always
remains an underlying system that gives the architecture its validity. In a sense, architecture is the carrier
of culture.

Traditional architecture in a large country with a long, diverse history such as China contains many
appropriate and time -lasting architectural solutions. Learning from the past can help us ensure the
continuation of our culture, and provide us with some useful resources and reference materials to apply to
contemporary architectural problems.

China is a nation of vast territory, long history, and rich resources. Great differences in geographical and
climatic conditions have caused marked diversity in the architecture of various regions in China. However,
it is possible to distinguish the underlying distinctive common characteristics. Since ancient times, Chinese
culture has been heavily influenced by conservative philosophies like Confucianism, Taoism etc. Over the
centuries, the structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main
changes being on the decorative details. Chinese architecture has had a major influence on the
architectural styles of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

Styles of Chinese ancient architecture are rich and varied, such as temples, imperial palaces, altars,
pavilions, official residencies and folk houses, which greatly reflect Chinese ancient thought - the
harmonious unity of human beings with nature.

Chinese architecture refers to a style of architecture that has taken shape in East Asia over the years. An
ancient civilized nation and a great country on the East Asian continent, China possesses a vast territory
covering 9.6 million sq. km. and a population accounting for over one-fifth of the worlds total, 56nationalities
and a recorded history of 3,OOO years, during which it has created a unique, outstanding traditional
Chinese Culture.

Traditional Chinese buildings are always found in pairs or groups, whether they are residences, temples or
palaces. Most structures in Chinese architecture are simple rectangles, and it is the architectural complex
composed by single structures rather than the single structures themselves that expresses the broadness
and magnanimousness of ancient Chinese architecture. Traditional Chinese architecture, unlike that of
other cultures, uses wood-frame construction as one of its most distinctive features.

Traditional Chinese architecture can still be seen throughout China, offering a tangible expression of
traditional Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese architecture encompasses palaces, temples, tombs, parks,
and residences. In both individual structures and overall building practices, traditional Chinese architecture
represents the synthesis of political, economic, cultural, and technical influences over the ages. In the past,
these structures provided the ancient Chinese people with functional space to live and work in. Today, they
make us to experience the essence of Chinese culture.
Styles of Chinese ancient architecture are rich and varied, such as temples, imperial palaces, altars,
pavilions, official residencies and folk houses, which greatly reflect Chinese ancient thought - the
harmonious unity of human beings with nature.
Since ancient times, Chinese culture has been heavily influenced by conservative philosophies like
Confucianism, Taoism etc. Over the centuries, the structural principles of Chinese architecture have
remained largely unchanged, the main changes being on the decorative details.
Traditional Chinese buildings are always found in pairs or groups, whether they are residences, temples or
palaces. Traditional Chinese architecture, unlike that of other cultures, uses wood-frame construction as
one of its most distinctive features.



History of China has been divided into 4 eras:

Prehistoric Era

Ancient China

Imperial China

Republican China (or Modern Era)

Xia Dynasty

The Xia Dynasty (c. 2070-1600 BCE) was the first government to emerge in ancient China and became
the first to adhere to the policy of dynastic succession; thus making it the first dynasty of China. It was
regarded as a mythical construct of later Chinese historians until excavations in the late 20th century CE
uncovered sites which corresponded to descriptions in these earlier historians' accounts. The Xia were
overthrown by the Shang Dynasty, a more historically certain governmental entity, who were in turn
overthrown by the Zhou Dynasty.

The argument claiming the Xia Dynasty is a mythological construct claims that the Zhou (and later
dynasties) wanted to make clear that the previous ones lost their right to rule through immoral conduct and
so created a proto-dynasty - the Xia - as a prehistoric model for this. Many scholars today still maintain that
the Xia Dynasty is a myth but seem to be at a loss to explain why the physical evidence uncovered argues
against their claim. Those who believe the Xia Dynasty was a reality are at an equal disadvantage in that
none of the sites uncovered so far positively identify themselves as belonging to the Xia Dynasty and could
as easily be interpreted as early Shang Dynasty buildings.

Xia dynasty is related to the excavations at Erlitou in central Henan province, where a bronze smelter
from around 2000 BC was unearthed.

Early markings from this period found on pottery and shells are thought to be ancestral to modern Chinese

With few clear records matching the Shang oracle bones or the Zhou bronze vessel writings, the Xia era
remains poorly understood and little is known about the architecture of Xia Dynasty.

According to mythology, the dynasty ended around 1600 BC as a consequence of the Battle of Mingtiao.
Fig. Zhou bronze vessel Fig. Shang oracle bones

Shang dynasty


The Shang dynasty (Chinese:Shng cho) or Yin dynasty (Chinese: pinyin: Yn di), according to
traditional historiography , ruled in the yellow river valley in the second millennium BC, succeeding the xia
dynasty and followed by the Zhou dynasty. The classic account of the Shang comes from texts such as the
book of documents,bamboo annals and record of grand historian . According to the traditional chronology
based on calculations made approximately 2,000 years ago by liu xin, the Shang ruled from 1766 to
1122 BC, but according to the chronology based upon the "current text" of Bamboo Annals, they ruled from
1556 to 1046 BC. The XiaShangZhou Chronology Project dated them from c. 1600 to 1046 BC.

The Shang dynasty is the earliest dynasty of traditional Chinese history supported by archaeological
evidence. Excavation at the Ruins of Yin (near modern-day Anyang), which has been identified as the last
Shang capital, uncovered eleven major royal tombs and the foundations of palaces and ritual sites,
containing weapons of war and remains from both animal and human sacrifices. Tens of thousands
of bronze, jade, stone, bone, and ceramic artifacts have been found.

The Anyang site has yielded the earliest known body of Chinese writing, mostly divinations inscribed
on oracle bones turtle shells, ox scapulae, or other bones. More than 20,000 were discovered in the initial
scientific excavations during the 1920s and 1930s, and over four times as many have been found since.
The inscriptions provide critical insight into many topics from the politics, economy, and religious practices
to the art and medicine of this early stage of Chinese civilization.

Archaeological findings providing evidence for the existence of the Shang dynasty, c. 16001046 BC, are
divided into two sets.
The first set comes from sources at Shangcheng. The second set is at An-yang, in modern-day Henan.
The findings at An-yang include the earliest written record of Chinese past so far discovered.

In the cities people lived in rectangular houses laid out in rows, built of wood and rammed earth. In the
center of the city, there was a big palace or temple on a high earth platform. One building at An-yang was
a big hall with pillars all the way around it.

These buildings can be compared to Greek temples from around 800 BC, which also have wooden
columns all the way around them and thatched, slanted roofs.

There was a city wall of rammed earth around the Shang capital at An-yang. These were built by piling up
dirt and pounding it until it was as hard as rock.

Other people at that time were building rammed earth altars, in circular patterns like this one to worship
Heaven, and square ones to worship Earth.

In the summertime, people moved out of their dark sod houses and lived instead in a tree-house built on
a wooden platform, with the roof made of poles and branches. Living high up in the air kept them safe from
animals and snakes. Fig. Shang Dynasty Altar Fig. Shang Dynasty city wall around Zhengzhou

Shang Houses and altars shang dynasty city wall around zhengzhou

The Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BCE)

was the longest-lasting of Chinas dynasties. It followed the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600-1046 BCE) and it
finished when the army of the state of Qin captured the city of Chengzhou in 256 BCE. The long history of
the Zhou Dynasty is normally divided in two different periods: Western Zhou (1046-771 BCE) and Eastern
Zhou (770-256 BCE), so called following the move of the Zhou capital eastwards where it was safer from

The most influential minds in the Chinese intellectual tradition flourished under the Zhou, particularly
towards the last period of the Zhou Dynasty, considered a time of intellectual and artistic awakening. Many
of the ideas developed by figures like Laozi, Confucius, Mencius and Mozi, who all lived during the
Eastern Zhou period, would shape the character of Chinese civilization up to the present day.


The Zhou people were not invaders; they were Chinese-speaking people descendant from the Longshan
Neolithic culture. During the course of several centuries, the Zhou moved away from barbarian pressures,
migrating towards the westernmost agricultural basin of North China, the lower Wei River valley, present-
day Shaanxi province. Here they began to develop Shang-style agriculture, and they also built a city in an
area named Plain of Zhou, which gave its name to the state and the dynasty. The Shang ruling class
considered the Zhou semi barbarious country cousins. For many years the Zhou and the Shang coexisted
alternating peace and war.

The first important historical figure of the Zhou is King Wen (1152-1056 BCE), who is described as a living
standard of benevolence and wisdom. He became king of Zhou in 1099 BCE during the last days of the
Shang Dynasty. King Wen is credited with conceiving the ambitious plan of undermining the authority of
the Shang by making alliances with neighboring chiefs that gave the Zhou the military power to
make conquest possible. Wens growing power disturbed the Shang court to the point that they imprisoned
him in the city of Youli. However, Wens supporters ransomed him by giving the Shang a large number of
gifts. The second son of King Wen was King Wu, who built a new capital and named it Haojing. In 1046
BCE, Wu led an army of 50,000 troops against a Shang army of 700,000 in a battle known as the Battle of
Muye. The Shang people were so unhappy under the rule of the Shang king that the Shang soldiers offered
little resistance and many of them joined King Wu's side. The Shang king retreated to his palace and
committed suicide: He locked himself up in the building and set it on fire.

The Zhou dynasty was the longest-lasting dynasty in Chinese history, from 1066 BC to approx. 256 BC.
By the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the Zhou dynasty began to emerge in the Yellow River valley,
overrunning the territory of the Shang.

There had been a lot of big palaces and shrines. These palaces were built mainly of big wooden beams.
They had rammed earth walls, like the buildings of the Shang Dynasty. They had courtyards. Archaeology
tells us that some of these buildings had clay roof tiles.

Rich people's houses already looked a lot the way rich people's houses looked in later China, with walls
around them and courtyards and more private areas for the women in the back.

The Zhou emperors made laws about how fancy house could be. Only the emperors were allowed to have
artists carve their pillars and paint them red. Only the very richest families could paint their pillars black.
People who were not so rich painted their pillars yellow.



One of the great religious beliefs that influenced the design of the classical Chinese city and Chinese
architecture is Confucianism. In order to create a stable social order, Confucianism established the strict
doctrines putting the society in order with rules and filial piety. An axial symmetrical city layout was the
most suitable means of expressing the concept of rigid hierarchical social system in ancient China. This is
because compositional elements in an axial layout plan are never independent they are always
subordinate to the axis and ruled by its coordinates. The relationship of each compositional element to the
reference axis is an important factor in the axis plan. For example, it is important whether a building is on
the north-south axis or on the east-west axis. The classical Chinese city axial plan was based on an
orthogonal system that was regarded as the best means to express the social system in ancient China.
Some common characteristic features of the classical Chinese cities were as follows: 1. The classical
Chinese citys plan exhibited obvious axial symmetry, with palace or other important government building
in the axial center, symbolizing the centralized power of Chinese emperor. 2. The traditional Chinese cities
were usually designed with a square plan; the streets were laid out running north-south and east-west along
the plan axis to form a checker-board grid. 3. They were all enclosed inside a wall. Like the Chinese city,
the house, representing a microcosm of Chinese private life, was also influenced by Confucian doctrine.
The obvious axial arrangement of Chinese architecture had often been seen as an expression of Confucian
idea of harmonious social relationship, which was formal, regular and clearly defined. Nothing inharmonious
or irregular existed inside this kind of Chinese building. Usually the north-south axis was considered to be
the major axis and east-west axis as the minor. This was because China is geographically situated north
of the equator and the climate is, for the most part, cold in the winter and warm in the summer with a
southeasterly prevailing wind. A north-south axis makes it possible for building to take the advantage of the
southeasterly winds and sunshine. Thus, traditional Chinese buildings along the south-north axis usually
have a more pleasant environment than the traditional Chinese buildings along the east-west axis. One of
the essential points of the Confucianism is HARMONY. Harmony in a family was considered the primary
source of happiness of ones life in traditional China. Traditional Chinese believed the Confucian ethical
concept of DEFERENCE TO ELDERS was the useful way to have family harmony in which happiness and
propriety prevailed. The classical Chinese house was planned to express and reinforce this philosophy.
The halls for the older generations and for important ceremonies were arranged along the main axis, which
usually was the north- south axis, to have the best ventilation and sunshine, while the young occupied the
side halls facing east and west. The halls for the parents would be higher, more exquisitely decorative than
the quarters for children. Various types of buildings had been created to fit the different uses. Such as, o
Ting (Hall) the largest and the most formal room used to treat important guests, o Tang (Living room)
the place to hold family meeting o Lou (Apartment) the place for family member live and for taking
advantages of scenery o Ting (Pavilion) the place for relaxation Usually, in ancient China, the entire
house was enclosed by a high, solid wall. One or two doors lead out to the street. The function of the wall
was to make the house a safe domain of a family, to protect the home from theft and fire, and to provide a
sense of privacy and seclusion


One of the basic principles of classical Chinese buildings is the USE OF A JIAN MODULE, much like the
modular concept of prefabrication in contemporary architecture.

Traditional Chinese carpenters used JIAN a structured bay as a standard unit to construct all buildings.
Jian was a rectangular space marked by Repetition adjacent structural frames. Jian, as the basic interior
unit, can be of Jian expanded or repeated along the architectural plan axis to join together to create a hall,
then a building.

Along a longer axis, several buildings can be connected around a traditional Chinese courtyard to form a
traditional Chinese courtyard house. Several traditional Chinese courtyard house units along the city plan
axis create a small street district. A number of such districts form a grid-like network based on the longer
city plan axis with palaces, government buildings and other public buildings in the center. This is typical of
traditional Chinese cities.


In ancient China, almost all of the main structures of classical Chinese architecture were made of wood.
Thus, the art of traditional Chinese architecture may be seen as the aesthetic of wood.

The original texture and color of the wood was exposed. The wood frame in traditional Chinese was only
painted with a kind of transparent wood oil to prevent it from decaying. This kind of transparent oil allows
the woods original texture, grain and color to be seen. The wood frame, the skeleton of the classical
Chinese building, supported the weight of the huge roof as well as the upper stories. Walls were used only
as enclosing elements. This traditional Chinese structural system made it possible for the interior space to
be divided freely according to the needs. In the division of the interior space, besides using solid fixed
partitions, such as solid walls, sliding screens and folding panels, Chinese also used temporary partitions,
such as a moon door, decorative panels, open shelves, decorative panels, etc. These partitions only
partially divided the space, to mark the separation of the space and allow free access and the continuity
of vision.

In traditional Chinese buildings in southern China, the character of the exposed wood structure was even
more obvious. In this Chinese region, the weather is more hot and humid, so the walls are thinner and not
only the interior wood structure but also all the columns and beams were exposed or half embedded in the
outside walls of the building. The exposed framework in the wall is the integral part of the composition of
classical Chinese architecture.



An important feature in Chinese architecture is its emphasis on articulation and bilateral symmetry, which
signifies balance. Bilateral symmetry and the articulation of buildings are found everywhere in Chinese
architecture, from palace complexes to humble farmhouses. Secondary elements are positioned either side
of main structures as two wings to maintain overall bilateral symmetry .In contrast to the buildings, Chinese
gardens are a notable exception which tends to be asymmetrical. The principle underlying the gardens
composition is to create enduring flow.


- In Traditional Chinese architecture, the buildings or building complexes encloses open spaces within
itself. These enclosed spaces come in two forms: THE COURTYARD AND THE "SKY WELL
The use of open courtyards is a common feature in many types of Chinese architecture. This is best
exemplified in the Siheyuan, which consists of an empty space surrounded by buildings connected with one
another either directly or through verandas.

- These enclosures serve in temperature regulation and inventing the building complexes.

- Northern courtyards are typically open and facing the south to allow the maximum exposure of the building
windows and walls to the sun while keeping the cold northern winds out.

- Usually, large deciduous trees are planted inside the courtyard. During summers it provides shade
whereas in the winter, it allows in plentiful sunshine. Hence the courtyard is really an ideal space for

- Although large open courtyards are less commonly found in southern Chinese architecture, the concept
of a "open space" surrounded by buildings, which isseen in northern courtyard complexes, can be seen in
the southern building structure known as the "sky well". This structure is essentially a relatively enclosed
courtyard formed from the intersections of closely spaced buildings and offer small opening to the sky
through the roof space from the floor up.

- Southern sky wells are relatively small and serves to collect rain water from the roof tops while restricting
the amount of sunlight that enters the building. Sky wells also serve as vents for rising hot air, which draws
cool air from the lowers stories of the house and allows for exchange of cool air with the outside.

- The Sky Well (in Hui Style architecture) is the most important feature of the house. It is a variation on the
courtyard of the Central-Courtyard Houses found in northern China. Unlike the courtyard, the Sky Well, is
very small, similar in dimensions to the opening of a well, hence, the name.

- The Sky Well is the only internal part of the house directly exposed to the exterior. In this way, it connects
the home to the earth outside the built structure. It provided both sunlight and rain water, and was the only
open area in which inhabitants conducted their daily activities, thus representing the important connection
of Heaven, Man, and Earth in line with Feng Shui principles.

- The ground level of the Sky Well is typically lower than that of the Zheng Tang (Main Hall). The ground is
covered with stone slats, beneath which is an area for the storage of rain water, which is connected to an
underground drainage system. The last function of the Sky Well, particularly in a two story residence or
higher, is to serve as a chimney, for removing dust and stagnant air, thus permitting improved air circulation.

- The projected hierarchy and importance and uses of buildings in traditional Chinese architecture are based
on the strict placement of buildings in a property/complex.

-Buildings with doors facing the front of the property are considered more important than those facing the
sides. Buildings facing away from the front of the property are the least important. As well, building in the
rear and more private parts of the property are held in higher esteem and reserve for elder members of the
family or ancestral plaques than buildings near the front, which are typically for servants and hired help.
Front-facing buildings in the back of properties are used particularly for rooms of celebratory rites and for
the placement of ancestral halls and plaques. In multiple courtyard complexes, central courtyards and their
buildings are considered more important than peripheral ones, the latter typically being used as storage or
servants rooms or kitchens

- The Forbidden City emphasizes on symmetry, which connotes a sense of grandeur. Even the style of the
roof shows the power of the sovereign, with the ridges engraved with the immortal or beasts symbolizing

- This massive imperial courtyard complex clearly embodies the Confucian emphasis on strict divisions of
rank, and the position of the individual within a hierarchical system- Emphasis on divisions between ruler
and subjects, husband and wife, Nobles and commoners etc.,

- The overall arrangement of the Forbidden City accords with traditional Chinese ritual requirements and
the Yin-Yang Principle.

- The front part is a place for the emperor to handle official businesses, and the rear part is the residence
for emperors and concubines.

- Within the complex there are several immense courtyards divided by individual gates.

- There is a shrine for the ancestors in the east and another one for the agricultural deities in the west.

- The structure is symmetrical.

- In addition to the palaces, there is a fabulous garden for the imperial family to relax themselves.



- Compared with the imperial palace, residential buildings for the royal relatives seemed less solemn and
much smaller in size and scale. There were less sidesteps in front of gates.

- Ridges were decorated with engraved beasts; however, the number of beasts could not exceed nine
because the number "nine" carried a special significance in old China and symbolized the emperors
supreme sovereignty.


- Although lower in rank than the above two categories, mandarins residence was also restricted by a set
of rules.

- All buildings were legally regulated. "Guardian lions" were not allowed to stand in front of the gate; and
engraved beasts were forbidden to decorate ridges of roof.


- Different from government officials, business people belonged to a much lower social class no matter how
rich Yintaidi in Ningbo they might were.

- Doors of these buildings were totally different in style from that of officials residence.

- There were no ornaments around the door symbolic of official position in ancient Chinese hierarchical


- Ordinary people could not afford buildings as decent as those of the wealthy or officials. The houses were
very simple. Doors and windows were much smaller; Siheyuan belonging to the wealthy usually featuring
an A Gate into the Siheyuan elaborate doorway belonging to commoner


- Classical Chinese buildings, especially those of the wealthy are built with an emphasis on breadth and
less on height, with close heavy platform and a large roof that floats over this base, with the vertical walls
not well emphasized. This contrasts Western architecture, which tends to grow in height and depth. Chinese
architecture stresses the visual impact of the width of the buildings.

- The halls and palaces in the Forbidden City, for example, have rather low ceilings when compared to
equivalent stately buildings in the West, but their external appearances suggest the all-embracing nature
of imperial China.


- Chinese architecture from early times used concepts from Chinese cosmology such as fengshui
(geomancy) and Taoism to organize construction and layout from common residences to imperial and
religious structures. This includes the use of: o Screen walls to face the main entrance of the house, which
stems from the belief that evil things travel in straight lines. o Talismans and imagery of good fortune: o
Door gods displayed on doorways to ward off evil and encourage the flow of good fortune o Three
anthropomorphic figures representing Fu Lu Shou stars are prominently displayed, sometimes with the
proclamation "the threes star are present. o Animals and fruits that symbolize good fortune and prosperity,
such as bats and pomegranates, respectively. The association is often done through rebuses.

-Orienting the structure with its back to elevated landscape and ensuring that there is water in the front.

- Considerations are also made such that the generally windowless back of the structure faces the north,
where the wind is coldest in the winter
- Ponds, pools, wells, and other water sources are usually built into the structure

- The use of certain colors, numbers and the cardinal directions in traditional Chinese architecture reflected
the belief in a type of immanence, where the nature of a thing could be wholly contained in its own form.
One way to summon good fortune is to invoke the character fu, seen on the wall to the right. Fu can be
translated as "happiness," "good fortune, "blessings," or "luck." A picture of a tiger with the eight trigrams.
This is often hung above doors in some parts of China, the word for tiger is pronounced "fu." The eight
trigrams are thought to ward off evil influences. In combination with the tiger fierce face, this image makes
a powerful amulet (element of good luck).

-A stylized form of shou can be seen in the middle of the door-Because Chinese people honor age and
desire long life, the character representing longevity shou is also often seen on Chinese houses. Another
character thought to express longevity is wan which means "ten thousand." This character is often
represented stylistically as a backwards swastika.



The ancient buildings use wood as chief material. And the components are mainly columns, beams, and
purlins, which are connected by tenons and mortises. As a result, the wooden structure is quite flexible.
There is also a unique design only found in China named Dougong (a system of brackets inserted between
the top of a column and a crossbeam), which is one of the most important character in ancient Chinese

The Eave of the Ancient Palace in the Forbidden City


The ancient Chinese architectures are greatly praised for the elegant profile and varied structure, for
example, the overhanging eaves, upward roof corners, and different shapes of roofs. The unique outside
has not only fit and satisfid the practical functional need of building, but also exhibited its wonderful
appearance. It is a good model of a combination of practicality and beauty

In China, buildings such as palaces, temples and folk houses are basically in a combined complex. The
building complex can be divided into buildings centered on different courtyards and then into single rooms.
Most of the buildings strictly follow the axis-centered principle with symmetrical wings. So the buildings look
symmetrical on the left and right sides. Such layout of ancient Chinese architectures has reflected the
aesthetic standard of harmony and symmetry in ancient China.

Temple of Heaven


Architects in ancient China pay special attention to the ornaments either from a whole or in a specific part.
They use different colors or paintings according to the particular need or local customs. Some buildings
use multiple colors to make strong contrast. Others use soften color to make it simple but elegant. Besides
the stress on the colors, ancient buildings attach the same weight on decorations, furnishings inside and
ornament outside. Carved beams, painted rafters, various patterns, inscribed boards, couplets hung on the
pillars, and wall paintings are used to add to the colorful and beautiful style. Stone lions, screen walls,
ornamental columns, as well as flowers are used in the outside of a building to make ornaments.


-Pillars and Beam


- Pillar and Transverse Tie Beam


- is a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment. It is closely
linked to Daoism. The term Feng shui literally translates as "wind-water" in English. This is a cultural
shorthand taken from the passage of the now-lost Classic of Burial recorded in Guo Pu's commentary Feng
shui is one of the Five Arts of Chinese Metaphysics, classified as physiognomy (observation of
appearances through formulas and calculations). The Feng shui practice discusses architecture in
metaphoric terms of "invisible forces" that bind the universe, earth, and humanity together, known as qi.

Historically, Feng shui was widely used to orient buildingsoften spiritually significant structures such as
tombs, but also dwellings and other structuresin an auspicious manner. Depending on the particular style
of Feng shui being used, an auspicious site could be determined by reference to local features such as
bodies of water, stars, or a compass.

Feng shui was suppressed in mainland China during the state-imposed Cultural Revolution of the 1960s
but has since then regained popularity.


As of 2013 the Yangshao and Hongshan cultures provide the earliest known evidence for the use of feng
shui. Until the invention of the magnetic compass, feng shui apparently relied on astronomy to find
correlations between humans and the universe. In 4000 BC, the doors of Banpo dwellings aligned with
the asterism Yingshi just after the winter solstice this sited the homes for solar gain. During
the Zhou era, Yingshi was known as Ding and used to indicate the appropriate time to build a capital city,
according to theShijing. The late Yangshao site at Dadiwan (c. 3500-3000 BC) includes a palace-like
building at the center. The building faces south and borders a large plaza. It stands on a north-south axis
with another building that apparently housed communal activities. Regional communities may have used
the complex.

A grave at Puyang (around 4000 BC) that contains mosaic actually a Chinese star map of the Dragon and
Tiger asterisms and Beidou (the Big Dipper, Ladle or Bushel) is oriented along a north-south axis. The
presence of both round and square shapes in the Puyang tomb, at Hongshan ceremonial centers and at
the late Longshan settlement at Lutaigang,suggests that gaitian cosmography (heaven-round, earth-
square) existed in Chinese society long before it appeared in the Zhou Bi Suan Jing.

Cosmography that bears a striking resemblance to modern feng shui devices and formulas appears on a
piece of jade unearthed at Hanshan and dated around 3000 BC. Archaeologist Li Xueqin links the design
to the liuren astrolabe, zhinan zhen, and luopan.

Beginning with palatial structures at Erlitou, all capital cities of China followed rules of feng shui for their
design and layout. During the Zhou era, the Kaogong ji codified these rules. The carpenter's manual Lu
ban jing (simplified Chinese codified rules for builders. Graves and tombs also followed rules of feng shui,
from Puyang to Mawangdui and beyond. From the earliest records, the structures of the graves and
dwellings seem to have followed the same rules.

Early instruments and techniques

The history of feng shui covers 3,500+ years before the invention of the magnetic compass. It originated
in Chinese astronomy. Some current techniques can be traced to Neolithic China, while others were added
later (most notably the Han dynasty, the Tang, theSong, and the Ming).

The astronomical history of feng shui is evident in the development of instruments and techniques.
According to the Zhouli, the original feng shui instrument may have been a gnomon. Chinese used
circumpolar stars to determine the north-south axis of settlements. This technique explains why Shang
palaces at Xiaotun lie 10 east of due north. In some cases, as Paul Wheatley observed, they bisected the
angle between the directions of the rising and setting sun to find north. This technique provided the more
precise alignments of the Shang walls at Yanshi and Zhengzhou.

The oldest examples of instruments used for feng shui are liuren astrolabes, also known as shi. These
consist of a lacquered, two-sided board with astronomical sightlines. The earliest examples of liuren
astrolabes have been unearthed from tombs that date between 278 BC and 209 BC. Along with divination
forDa Liu Ren the boards were commonly used to chart the motion of Taiyi through the nine palaces.[18] The
markings on a liuren/shi and the first magnetic compasses are virtually identical.

The magnetic compass was invented for feng shui and has been in use since its invention. Traditional feng
shui instrumentation consists of the Luopan or the earlier south-pointing spoon though a conventional
compass could suffice if one understood the differences. A feng shui ruler (a later invention) may also be


In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be
complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to
each other as they interrelate to one another. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water,
expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and
yang. This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well
as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms
of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (t'ai chi), and qigong(Chi Kung), as
well as appearing in the pages of the I Ching.

Duality is found in many belief systems, but Yin and Yang are parts of a Oneness that is also equated with
the Tao. A term has been coined dualistic-monism or dialectical monism. Yin and yang can be thought of
as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole
is greater than the assembled parts. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot
exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object,
depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang shows a balance between two opposites with
a portion of the opposite element in each section.

In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments,
are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole. In the ethics
of Confucianism on the other hand, most notably in the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu (c. 2nd century BC),
a moral dimension is attached to the idea of yin and yang.
The modern "yin and yang symbol"

Bagua (eight trigrams)

Two diagrams known as bagua (or pa kua) loom large in feng shui, and both predate their mentions
in the Yijing (or I Ching).The Lo (River) Chart (Luoshu) was developed first, and is sometimes associated
with Later Heaven arrangement of the bagua. This and the Yellow River Chart(Hetu, sometimes associated
with the Earlier Heaven bagua) are linked to astronomical events of the sixth millennium BC, and with the
Turtle Calendar from the time of Yao. The Turtle Calendar of Yao (found in theYaodian section of
the Shangshu or Book of Documents) dates to 2300 BC, plus or minus 250 years.
In Yaodian, the cardinal directions are determined by the marker-stars of the mega-constellations known
as the Four Celestial Animals


The Azure Dragon (Spring equinox)Niao (Bird ), Scorpionis


The Vermilion Bird (Summer solstice)Huo (Fire ), Hydrae


The White Tiger (Autumn equinox)Mo (Hair ), Tauri (the Pleiades)


The Black Tortoise (Winter solstice)X (Emptiness, Void ), Aquarii, Aquarii

The diagrams are also linked with the sifang (four directions) method of divination used during the Shang
dynasty.[45] The sifang is much older, however. It was used at Niuheliang, and figured large in Hongshan
culture's astronomy. And it is this area of China that is linked to Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) who allegedly
invented the south-pointing spoon (see compass).[46]


Buddhism is Chinas oldest foreign religion. It merged with native Daoism and folk religion. Modern Chinese
Buddhists are generally also Taoists. Ancient Hindu Buddhism taught by Buddha involved reaching
Enlightenment through meditation. How to go about this and what it means is open to interpretation. When
early Buddhist scriptures were translated into Chinese, Taoist terminology based on native religion was
often used. People interpreted the scripture in their own ways. In contrast, Islam and Christianity both have
a main text and a long set interpretive history in the Middle East and Europe. Rites, customs, and
interpretations of scripture are finely explained. Though individual beliefs of Chinese Christians and Muslims
are colored by Taoist concepts, in contrast to Buddhism, no generally popular Sinofied version of the two
religions developed. Buddhism has had a long history in China, and native Buddhist religions developed
that are accepted by Chinese Buddhists..

Leshan Giant Buddha


Mayahana Buddhism is the type of Buddhism in China. It originally developed in the Kushan Empire that
the Chinese called Yuezhi. Then various schools sects developed in China and became popular in other
countries like Japan. There are no religious polls, but there may be hundreds of millions of people who
believe a combination of Buddhism and Taoism in China. One difference of much Chinese Buddhism
compared to the original teachings is the belief that Buddha is not just a teacher who taught what to do but
is a god to be prayed to for help and salvation. Chinese Buddhists may pray to both Buddha and Taoist
gods, and they often also pay homage to ancestors believing that their ancestors want their help. For
example, they may burn paper that their ancestors can use as money. People who call themselves
Buddhists usually have Taoist beliefs.

Buddha was said to have reached Enlightenment after fasting. It was said that he was extremely skinny
and gaunt. In some countries, Buddha was depicted as being very skinny and meditating under a tree. In
Mayahana Buddhism in Central Asia and in Buddhas carved along the Silk Road before the end of the
Tang Dynasty, he is depicted as being strong and healthy like a Greek god. In modern China, the Happy
Buddha is most commonly seen. He is depicted as being fat and laughing or smiling. The main goal of life
in modern China is said to be happy. Maybe that is why Buddha is shown this way. The Happy Buddha
has been the common popular Buddha in China for hundreds of years.


Buddhism started as a Hindu influenced religion in India. Details about Buddhas life and original teachings
as presented in the first century BC Buddhist scriptures are important for understanding how Chinese
Buddhism developed. Guatama Buddha was the founder of the religion. He lived between 600 and 400 BC.
Buddha and his followers left no writings, but his rules for monastic life and teachings were memorized and
passed down by oral tradition until about the second century BC when the first Buddhist scriptures were
written. The oral tradition was corrupted. Shortly after this, the first scriptures were brought to China

Longmen Grottoes

Guatama Buddha was said to be the prince of a little kingdom that was inmodern Nepal. Maybe he wasn't
Indo-European. There are many legends such as that seers predicted that he would be either a great holy
man or a great king. His father wanted him to be a great king and tried to keep his son from all religion and
sights of death and suffering. So when grew up, he was shocked by seeing an old man and a corpse. Then,
he wanted to solve suffering and death.

When he was 29 years old, he became a disciple of famous teachers in India, learned Hinduism, and wasn't
satisfied. Then, he tried to learn the truth through not eating and body mortification. He nearly starved
himself to death and almost drowned. Then, he ate, meditated and avoided extremes of self-indulgence or
self-mortification. However, he was almost like a skeleton. He vowed to sit under a tree until he knew the
truth and became Enlightened when he was 35.
Then, he started teaching. He taught that everybody could be Enlightened. He contradicted the Hindu belief
that only high-caste people might be holy which threatened the hierarchical society. It is said that many
disciples became Arhats, and he taught everybody no matter their caste. Some Hindus thought that the
religion was false, and his enemies tried to kill him. His idea would destroy the hierachical society. He died
in old age, and his body was cremated.


Buddhist teachers may have arrived in the third century BC because there is evidence that the Qin Emperor
ordered the destruction of the religion about 213 BC. At the time that the first Buddhist scriptures came to
China, the Han Empire existed. After it fell, there were separate kingdoms and other empires that had their
own religions and different degrees of contact with Buddhists in Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast
Asia. Different kinds of Buddhism developed in these countries, and their teachings were changed by
Chinese, so the religious history is complex with many different sects. Sometimes the religion and Buddhists
were supported and sponsored by the rulers during the past 2000 years, and sometimes Buddhists were
eradicated and temples and scriptures were destroyed to make people not believe it.

White Horse Temple

There were two natural land routes into China from Buddhist regions during the Han Empire (206 BC 220
AD). One was through Xinjiang and is called the Silk Road, and one went through Yunnan and is called the
Chama Road.

Earliest base-structure type for Chinese pagodas were square-base and circular-base. By the 5th-10th
centuries the Chinese began to buildoctagonal-base pagoda towers. The highest Chinese pagoda from the
pre-modern age is the Liaodi Pagoda of Kaiyuan Monastery, Dingxian, Hebeiprovince, completed in the
year 1055 AD under Emperor Renzong of Song and standing at a total height of 84 m (275 ft). The pagoda
was built of brick and stone and has the classic gradual tiered eaves marking each storey, and has a section
of its walls partially open at one side, which allows one to view the interior of the pagoda, the inner column
shaped as another pagoda inside, and the thickness of the pagoda's walls. Although it no longer stands,
the tallest pre-modern pagoda in Chinese history was the 100-metre-tall wooden pagoda (330 ft)
of Chang'an, built by Emperor Yang of Sui. The Liaodi Pagoda is the tallest pre-modern pagoda still
standing, yet in April 2007 a new wooden pagoda at the Tianning Temple ofChangzhou was opened to the
public; this pagoda is now the tallest in China, standing at 154 m (505 ft).


Iconography of Han is noticeable in architecture of the Chinese Pagoda. The image of the Shakyamuni
Buddha in the abhaya mudra is also noticeable in some Chinese pagodas. Buddhist iconography is also
inside of the symbolism in the pagoda. In an article on Buddhist elements in Han art, Wu Hung suggests
that in these tombs, Buddhist iconography was so well incorporated into native Chinese traditions that a
unique system of symbolism had been developed. It was believed by some that they would influence the
success of young students taking the examinations for a civil service degree. When a pagoda of Yihuang
County in Fuzhou collapsed in 1210 during the Song Dynasty, all the local inhabitants believed that the
unfortunate event was directly correlated with the recent failure of many exam candidates in the prefectural
examinations for official degrees, the prerequisite for appointment in civil service. The pagoda was rebuilt
in 1223 and had a list inscribed on it of the recently successful examination candidates, in hopes that it
would reverse the trend and win the county supernatural, cosmic favo


From the Eastern Han Dynasty to the Southern and Northern Dynasties (~25-589) pagodas were mostly
built of wood, as were other ancient Chinese structures. Wooden pagodas are resistant to earthquakes,
however many have burnt down, and wood is also prone to both natural rot and insect infestation.
Examples of wooden pagodas:

White Horse Pagoda at White Horse Temple, Luoyang.

Futuci Pagoda in Xuzhou, built in the Three Kingdoms period (~220-265).
Many of the pagodas in Stories About Buddhist Temples in Luoyang, a Northern Wei text, were wooden.

The literature of subsequent eras also provides evidence of the domination of wooden pagoda construction
in this period. The famous Tang Dynasty poet, Du Mu, once wrote:

480 Buddhist temples of the Southern Dynasties,

uncountable towers and pagodas stand in the misty rain.

The oldest extant fully wooden pagoda standing in China today is the Pagoda of Fugong Temple in Ying
County, Shanxi Province, built in the 11th century during the Song Dynasty/Liao Dynasty (refer
to Architecture section in Song Dynasty).


During the Northern Wei and Sui dynasties (386-618) experiments began with the construction of brick and
stone pagodas. Even at the end of the Sui, however, wood was still the most common material. For
example, Emperor Wen of the Sui Dynasty (reigned 581-604) once issued a decree for all counties and
prefectures to build pagodas to a set of standard designs, however since they were all built of wood none
have survived. Only the Songyue Pagoda has survived, a circular-based pagoda built out of stone in 523


The earliest extant brick pagoda is the 40-metre-tall Songyue Pagoda in Dengfeng Country, Henan. This
curved, circle-based pagoda was built in 523 during the Northern Wei Dynasty, and has survived for 15
centuries. Much like the later pagodas found during the following Tang Dynasty, this temple featured tiers
of eaves encircling its frame, as well as a spire crowning the top. Its walls are 2.5 m thick, with a ground
floor diameter of 10.6 m. Another early brick pagoda is the Sui Dynasty Guoqing Pagoda built in 597.


The earliest large-scale stone pagoda is a Four Gates Pagoda at Licheng, Shandong, built in 611 during
the Sui Dynasty. Like the Songyue Pagoda, it also features a spire at its top, and is built in the pavilion
Brick and stone

One of the earliest brick and stone pagodas was a three-storey construction built in the (first) Jin
Dynasty (265-420), by Wang Jun ofXiangyang. However, it is now destroyed.

Brick and stone went on to dominate Tang, Song, Liao and Jin Dynasty pagoda construction. An example
of such would be the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (652 AD), built during the early Tang Dynasty.
The Porcelain Pagoda of Nanjing has been one of the most famous brick and stone pagoda in China
throughout history. The Zhou dynasty started making the ancient pagodas about 3,500 years ago and are
still being made today.


Grottoes are a form of Buddhist architecture originated from India. In ancient times, Buddhists built grottoes
on remote mountains for practicing their religion, so grottoes were built to serve Buddhism. Grottoes in
China were originally built imitating those in India after Buddhism was spread to China. Most grottoes were
built along the Yellow River area in North China


Age: About 1500 years

Location: Datong City, Shanxi Province, North China

Feature: A World Heritage Site and the largest among the four.

Yungang Grottoes, with 252 caves and 51,000 Buddhist statues are the classical masterpieces of Chinese
Buddhist art in the 5th and 6th centuries. The whole grotto complex is magnificent with delicate carvings. It
extends about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) long from east to west. The statues are precious and vivid,
representing the development of art, architecture, music and religion at the time of construction.

Age: About 1600 years

Location: Dunhuang City, Gansu Province, Northwest China

Feature: A World Heritage Site and the best preserved among the four, with colorful frescos and statues.

Mogao Grottoes , also known as "the Thousand Buddha Caves", is praised as "a glittering pearl that adorns
the Silk Road". Mogao Grottoes were carved out of the sandstone cliffs of the Singing Sand Mountains
spanning 10 centuries, and the first one was chiseled out in 366 AD. The mural paintings and more than
2,000 color statues are regarded as the greatest treasure-house of Buddhist art in the world.
Longmen Grottoes

Age: About 1500 years

Location: Luoyang City, Henan Province, Central China

Feature: A World Heritage Site, with the largest number of statues among the four, and has collections of
ancient Chinese art of calligraphy.

Longmen Grottos enjoy a good location where two mountains (Mount Xiang and Mount Longmen) confront
each other and Yi River flows between. Spanning a length of around 1 kilometer on the hillside along the
Yihe River, the niches resemble dozens of honeycombs dotting the area. There are about 2.100 grottoes
and niches, over 40 crematory urns, 3,600 inscribed stone tablets and over 100,000 Buddhist images and
Maijishan Grottoes

Age: About 1600 years

Location: Tianshui City, Gansu Province, Northwest China

Feature: A grottoes complex under state-level protection. The mountain is of typical Danxia Landform.

Maijishan Grottoes is 150 meters tall, and it was named for its shape -- like that of a pile of wheat.
Excavation and rock carving continued for more than a thousand years. There preserved 194 grottoes,
7000 clay sculptures and carved stone statues from several ancient dynasties. The artistic style in these
grottoes show the influence of Central Asian cultures.

Temples symbolize the long history and rich culture of China, and are regarded as valuable art treasures.
There are many different religions in China, such as the Buddhism, Christianity and Islam introduced from
other regions, as well as Taoism and Confucianism, the native-born religions. Of course, temples or houses
of worship of different religions differ. Buddhist temples include a temple, pagoda and grotto, which are
called Si, Ta, and Shiku in Chinese respectively. Taoist architecture is variously called Gong, Guan or An
in Chinese. Confucian temples, such as Kong Miao, Yonghe Lamasery (Harmony and Peace Palace
Lamasery) and the Temple of Heaven are called Miao, Gong, or Tan in Chinese. An Islamic house of
worship is referred to as a Mosque. Christian churches have also added some Chinese flavor to them.

- Main Hall, Shaolin Temple, Luoyang

Confucius Temple, Qufu

Chinese temples are well kept cultural artifacts of every dynasty. And temple culture has influenced every
aspect of Chinese people's life such as painting, calligraphy, music, sculpture, architecture, temple fairs,
folk-customs and many others. The following are typical religious architectural styles in China.

The European churches often use complicated spire, arched domed roof and stained glass window to
convey religious morals. Every detail of the buildings tries with intentions to express the opposite of the
Promised Land in Heaven and miserable world on Earth. However, in a different way, Chinese temples
want to express the concept of the integration of heaven and humanity, that is, human beings is a part of
nature. Followed by this idea, many temples actively embrace themselves into nature. The building
integrated with nature is exactly the embodiment of the integration of heaven and humanity. This is to
explain why many Chinese temples are located in mountains and forests.

What's more, like a beautiful picture which makes up of lines of different lengths and thicknesses, Chinese
temples uses various pillars, beams and arches interlaced with each other to compose an architecture
complex. Each building doesn't stand alone, for example, the hall of Mahavira should stand out against the
mountain forests and side halls to highlight its elegance and artistic conception.

In addition, it is learned that the space awareness reflected in Chinese temples is different from that in
European churches. In order to make people feel small and helpless compared to the powerful lord,
European churches emphasize on huge and enclosed space. But Chinese temples give people the feeling
of harmonious environment and comfortable life when they stroll in the changeable and complicated
buildings. The spirit of entering the mortal world is encouraged when practice religious services.


Yonghe Lama Temple, in the northeast corner of downtown Beijing, has over 300 years of rich imperial and
Buddhist history. It contains the largest wooden Buddha in the world.

Yonghe Lama Temple was originally used as the official residence for court eunuchs of the Ming dynasty.
It was converted to the royal court of Prince Yongzheng during the Qing dynasty, in the 33rd year (1693)
of Emperor Kangxi's reign. In the 3rd year of Yongzheng's reign (1725), it was elevated to an imperial
palace for short stays away from the capital, and its name was changed to Palace of Eternal Peace
(Yonghegong). During the 9th year of Emperor Qianlong's reign (1744), it was dedicated for use as a Lama

The dimensions of the temple are magnificent. It has five courtyards in a row. The front structural layout of
the temple is bright and spacious. It is dotted with screen walls with carved murals, statues and decorated
archways. The interior pavement leads to the main halls. The evergreen pine and cypress trees make for
a peaceful and secluded environment. The back structural layout is composed of a cluster of buildings,
halls and pavilions intermingled with each other. Upturned eaves and ridges are beautifully interwoven,
forming a picturesque architecture.

The main structures in the Yonghe Temple complex are: Palace of the Heavenly King, Palace of Eternal
Peace (Yonghegong), Eternal Blessing Hall, the Hall of the Wheel of the Law and Hall of Boundless
Happiness. The Hall of the Wheel of the Law is extremely imposing; the overall arrangement of its plan
view forms a cross, and the ceiling is decorated with small lama pagodas.

The Hall of Boundless Happiness is the biggest building in the Lama Temple. It is flanked by the Hall of
Everlasting Health and the Hall of Peace. In the Hall of Boundless Happiness, stands a huge and famous
statue of Buddha, 26 meters high, carved out of a whole piece of sandalwood. It is the biggest wood-carving
Buddha in the world.

Many visitors to the temple burn joss sticks to worship the Buddha idol. It is wise to buy the joss sticks
outside. If there are too many pilgrims, you will not have the chance to burn your joss sticks, and the lama
will ask you to leave them on the sacrifice table.

the way of life propagated by Confucius in the 6th5th century BCE and followed by the Chinese people for
more than two millennia. Although transformed over time, it is still the substance of learning, the source of
values, and the social code of the Chinese. Its influence has also extended to other countries,
particularly Korea, Japan, andVietnam.

Confucianism, a Western term that has no counterpart in Chinese, is a worldview, a social ethic, a political
ideology, a scholarly tradition, and a way of life. Sometimes viewed as a philosophy and sometimes as
a religion, Confucianism may be understood as an all-encompassing way of thinking and living that entails
ancestor reverence and a profound human-centred religiousness. East Asians may profess themselves to
be Shintists, Daoists,Buddhists, Muslims, or Christians, but, by announcing their religious affiliations,
seldom do they cease to be Confucians.

Although often grouped with the major historical religions, Confucianism differs from them by not being an
organized religion. Nonetheless, it spread to other East Asian countries under the influence of Chinese
literate culture and has exerted a profound influence on spiritual and political life. Both the theory and
practice of Confucianism have indelibly marked the patterns ofgovernment, society, education,
and family of East Asia. Although it is an exaggeration to characterize traditional Chinese life and culture
as Confucian, Confucian ethical values have for well over 2,000 years served as the source of inspiration
as well as the court of appeal for human interaction between individuals, communities, and nations in the
Sinitic world.


The story of Confucianism does not begin with Confucius. Nor was Confucius the founder of Confucianism
in the sense that the Buddha was the founder of Buddhism and Jesus Christ the founder of Christianity.
Rather, Confucius considered himself a transmitter who consciously tried to reanimate the old in order to
attain the new. He proposed revitalizing the meaning of the past by advocating a ritualized life. Confuciuss
love of antiquity was motivated by his strong desire to understand why certain life forms and institutions,
such as reverence for ancestors, human-centred religious practices, and mourning ceremonies, had
survived for centuries. His journey into the past was a search for roots, which he perceived as grounded in
humanitys deepest needs for belonging and communicating. He had faith in the cumulative power of
culture. The fact that traditional ways had lost vitality did not, for him, diminish their potential for regeneration
in the future. In fact, Confuciuss sense of history was so strong that he saw himself as a conservationist
responsible for the continuity of the cultural values and the social norms that had worked so well for the
idealized civilization of the Western Zhou dynasty.
The historical context

The scholarly tradition envisioned by Confucius can be traced to the sage-kings of antiquity. Although the
earliest dynasty confirmed by archaeology is the Shang dynasty (18th12th century BCE), the historical
period that Confucius claimed as relevant was much earlier. Confucius may have initiated a cultural process
known in the West as Confucianism, but he and those who followed him considered themselves part of a
tradition, later identified by Chinese historians as the rujia, scholarly tradition, that had its origins two
millennia previously, when the legendary sages Yao and Shuncreated a civilized world through moral

Confuciuss hero was Zhougong, or the duke of Zhou (fl. 11th century BCE), who was said to have helped
consolidate, expand, and refine the feudalritual system. This elaborate system of mutual dependence was
based on blood ties, marriage alliances, and old covenants as well as on newly negotiated contracts. The
appeal to cultural values and social norms for the maintenance of interstate as well as domestic order was
predicated on a shared political vision, namely, that authority lies in universal kingship, heavily invested
with ethical and religious power by the mandate of heaven (tianming), and that social solidarity is achieved
not by legal constraint but byritual observance. Its implementation enabled the Western Zhou dynasty to
survive in relative peace and prosperity for more than five centuries.

Inspired by the statesmanship of Zhougong, Confucius harboured a lifelong dream to be in a position to

emulate the duke by putting into practice the political ideas that he had learned from the ancient sages and
worthies. Although Confucius never realized his political dream, his conception of politics
as moral persuasion became more and more influential.

The concept of heaven (tian), unique in Zhou cosmology, was compatible with that of the Lord on High
(Shangdi) in the Shang dynasty. Lord on High may have referred to the ancestral progenitor of the Shang
royal lineage, but heaven to the Zhoukings, although also ancestral, was a more-generalized
anthropomorphic god. The Zhou belief in the mandate of heaven (the functional equivalent of the will of the
Lord on High) differed from the divine right of kings in that there was no guarantee that the descendants of
the Zhou royal house would be entrusted with kingship, for, as written in the Shujing (Classic of History),
heaven sees as the people see [and] hears as the people hear; thus, the virtues of the kings were essential
for the maintenance of their power and authority. This emphasis on benevolent rulership, expressed in
numerous bronze inscriptions, was both a reaction to the collapse of the Shang dynasty and an affirmation
of a deep-rooted worldview.

Partly because of the vitality of the feudal ritual system and partly because of the strength of the royal
household itself, the Zhou kings were able to control their kingdom for several centuries. In 771 BCE,
however, they were forced to move their capital eastward to present-day Luoyang to avoid barbarian attacks
from Central Asia. Real power thereafter passed into the hands of feudal lords. Since the surviving line of
the Zhou kings continued to be recognized in name, they still managed to exercise some measure of
symbolic control. By Confuciuss time, however, the feudal ritual system had been so fundamentally
undermined that the political crises also precipitated a profound sense of moral decline: the centre of
symbolic control could no longer hold the kingdom, which had devolved from centuries of civil war into 14
feudal states.

Confuciuss response was to address himself to the issue of learning to behuman. In so doing he attempted
to redefine and revitalize the institutions that for centuries had been vital to political stability and social
order: the family, the school, the local community, the state, and the kingdom. Confucius did not accept the
status quo, which held that wealth and power spoke the loudest. He felt that virtue (de), both as a personal
quality and as a requirement for leadership, was essential for individual dignity, communal solidarity, and
political order.

Confucian ideology was the core of feudal China's hierarchical social system.

Traditional courtyard residences drew strict distinctions between interior and exterior, superior and
inferior, and male and female; internal affairs and external affairs, the honorable (master) and humble
(maid) ranking.

The compounds were enclosed and isolated from the outside world, and serving as material expressions
of Confucian ideology.

The chinese quadrangle buildings (known as Si He Yuan") was highly influenced by Confucanism's rite.


Taoism, also known as Daoism, is a religious, philosophical and ritual tradition of Chinese origin which
emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao (literally "Way", also romanized as Dao). Taoist schools function
as theoretical and liturgical frameworks for both popular and high cults of broader Chinese religion, and
some of them (the Quanzhen traditions) have a distinct monastic institution. The Tao is a fundamental idea
in Chinese philosophies and religions other than Taoism; in the latter, however, it denotes the principle that
is both the source and the pattern of development of everything that exists. Taoism differs specifically
from Confucian traditions by not emphasizing rigid rituals and social order, which are fundamental in the
The roots of Taoism go back at least to the 4th century BCE. Early Taoism drew its cosmological notions
from the School of Yinyang (Naturalists), and was deeply influenced by one of the oldest text of Chinese
culture, the Yijing, which expounds a philosophical system about how to keep human behavior in
accordance with the alternating cycles of nature. The Tao Te Ching, a compact book containing teachings
attributed to Laozi (Chinese: pinyin: Loz; WadeGiles: Lao Tzu), is widely considered the keystone work
of the Taoist tradition, together with the later writings of Zhuangzi.

Only by the Han dynasty (3rd century CE) the various sources of Taoism coalesced into a coherent tradition
of religious organizations and orders of ritualists in the state of Shu (modern Sichuan). In earlier ancient
China, Taoists were thought of as hermits or recluses who did not participate in political life. Zhuangzi was
the best known of these, and it is significant that he lived in the south, where he was part of local Chinese
shamanic traditions. Women shamans played an important role in this tradition, which was particularly
strong in the southern state of Chu. Early Taoist movements developed their own institution in contrast to
shamanism, but absorbed basic shamanic elements. Shamans revealed basic texts of Taoism from early
times down to at least the 20th century. Institutional orders of Taoism evolved in various strains that in more
recent times are conventionally grouped into two main branches: Quanzhen Taoism and Zhengyi
Taoism.After Laozi and Zhuangzi, the literature of Taoism grew steadily and was compiled in form of a
canonthe Daozangwhich was published at the behest of the emperor. Throughout Chinese history,
Taoism was nominated several times as a state religion. After the 17th century, however, it fell from favor.

Taoist propriety and ethics may vary depending on the particular school, but in general they tend to
emphasize wu wei(effortless action), "naturalness", simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three
Treasures: jing (sperm/ovary energy, or the essence of the physical body), qi ("matter-energy" or "life
force", including the thoughts and emotions), and shn (spirit or generative power).

Taoism has had a profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries,
and Taoists(Chinese: ; pinyin:doshi, "masters of the Tao"), a title traditionally attributed only to the clergy
and not to their lay followers, usually take care to note distinction between their ritual tradition and the
practices of Chinese folk religion and non-Taoist vernacular ritual orders, which are often mistakenly
identified as pertaining to Taoism. Chinese alchemy (especially neidan), Chinese astrology, Chan (Zen)
Buddhism, several martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have
been intertwined with Taoism throughout history. Beyond China, Taoism also had influence on surrounding
societies in Asia.

Today, the Taoist tradition is one of the five religious doctrines officially recognized in the People's Republic
of China (PRC) as well as Taiwan, and although it does not travel readily from its East Asian roots, claims
adherents in a number of societies.Taoism also has a presence in Hong Kong and in Southeast Asia.

The word "Taoism" is used to translate different Chinese terms which refer to different aspects of the same
tradition and semantic field:

1. "Taoist religion" (Chinese: pinyin: dojio; lit. "teachings of the Tao"), or the "liturgical" aspect A family
of organized religious movements sharing concepts or terminology from "Taoist philosophy" the first of
these is recognized as the Celestial Masters school.
2. "Taoist philosophy" (Chinese: pinyin: doji; lit. "school or family of the Tao") or "Taology"
(Chinese: pinyin: doxu; lit. "learning of the Tao"), or the "mystical" aspect The philosophical
doctrines based on the texts of the I Ching, the Tao Te Ching (or Daodejing, Chinese: pinyin: dodjng)
and the Zhuangzi (Chinese: pinyin: zhungzi). These texts were linked together as "Taoist philosophy"
during the early Han Dynasty, but notably not before. It is unlikely that Zhuangzi was familiar with the text
of the Daodejing, and Zhuangzi would not have identified himself as a Taoist as this classification did not
arise until well after his death.

However, the discussed distinction is rejected by the majority of Western and Japanese scholars. It is
contested by hermeneutic (interpretive) difficulties in the categorization of the different Taoist schools, sects
and movements. Taoism does not fall under an umbrella or a definition of a single organized religion like
the Abrahamic traditions; nor can it be studied as a mere variant of Chinese folk religion, as although the
two share some similar concepts, much of Chinese folk religion is separate from the tenets and core
teachings of Taoism. Sinologists Isabelle Robinet and Livia Kohn agree that "Taoism has never been a
unified religion, and has constantly consisted of a combination of teachings based on a variety of original

Chung-ying Cheng, a Chinese philosopher, views Taoism as a religion that has been embedded into
Chinese history and tradition. "Whether Confucianism, Daoism, or later Chinese Buddhism, they all fall into
this pattern of thinking and organizing and in this sense remain religious, even though individually and
intellectually they also assume forms of philosophy and practical wisdom." Chung-ying Cheng also noted
that the Daoist view of heaven flows mainly from "observation and meditation, [though] the teaching of the
way (dao) can also include the way of heaven independently of human nature".In Chinese history, the three
religions of Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism stand on their own independent views, and yet are
"involved in a process of attempting to find harmonization and convergence among themselves, so that we
can speak of a 'unity of three religious teaching' (sanjiao heyi)"

The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (Qin Shi Huang) (Chinese: pinyin: Qnshhung Lng) is
located in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province of China. This mausoleum was constructed over 38
years, from 246 to 208 BC, and is situated underneath a 76-meter-tall tomb mound shaped like a truncated
pyramid. The layout of the mausoleum is modeled on the Qin capital Xianyang, divided into inner and outer
cities. The circumference of the inner city is 2.5 km (1.55 miles) and the outer is 6.3 km (3.9 miles). The
tomb is located in the southwest of the inner city and faces east. The main tomb chamber housing the coffin
and burial artifacts is the core of the architectural complex of the mausoleum.

The tomb itself has not yet been excavated. Archaeological explorations currently concentrate on various
sites of the extensivenecropolis surrounding the tomb, including the Terracotta Army to the east of the tomb
mound. The Terracotta Army served as agarrison to the mausoleum and has yet to be completely


Work on the mausoleum began soon after Emperor Qin ascended the throne in 246 BC when he was still
aged 13, although its full-scale construction only started after he had conquered the six other major states
and unified China in 221 BC. The source of the account of the construction of the mausoleum and its
description came from Sima Qian in chapter six of his Records of the Grand Historian, which contains the
biography of Qin Shi Huang:

In the ninth month, the First Emperor was interred at Mount Li. When the First Emperor first came to the
throne, the digging and preparation work began at Mount Li. Later, when he had unified his empire, 700,000
men were sent there from all over his empire. They dug through three layers of groundwater, and poured
in bronze for the outer coffin. Palaces and scenic towers for a hundred officials were constructed, and the
tomb was filled with rare artifacts and wonderful treasure. Craftsmen were ordered to make crossbows and
arrows primed to shoot at anyone who enters the tomb. Mercury was used to simulate the hundred rivers,
the Yangtze andYellow River, and the great sea, and set to flow mechanically. Above were representation
of the heavenly constellations, below, the features of the land. Candles were made from fat of "man-fish",
which is calculated to burn and not extinguish for a long time. The Second Emperor said: "It would be
inappropriate for the concubines of the late emperor who have no sons to be out free", ordered that they
should accompany the dead, and a great many died. After the burial, it was suggested that it would be a
serious breach if the craftsmen who constructed the mechanical devices and knew of its treasures were to
divulge those secrets. Therefore after the funeral ceremonies had completed and the treasures hidden
away, the inner passageway was blocked, and the outer gate lowered, immediately trapping all the workers
and craftsmen inside. None could escape. Trees and vegetations were then planted on the tomb mound
such that it resembles a hill.

Sima Qian, Shiji,

Some scholars believe that the claim of having "dug through three layers of groundwater" to be figurative. It
is also uncertain what the "man-fish" in the text refers to, interpretation of the term varies
from whale to walrus and other aquatic animals such as giant salamander.

Before the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor was completed, a peasant rebellion broke out during the
late Qin dynasty. Zhang Han redeployed all the 700,000 people building the mausoleum to suppress the
rebellion, so the construction of the mausoleum ceased. After Xian Yu entered Xianyang, he is said to have
looted the tomb. Afterwards, it is said that a shepherd unintentionally burnt down the underground palace
of the mausoleum. The story goes that he went into a cave of the mausoleum, dug by Xiang Yu, to look for
his sheep with a torch in his hand, and a fire was started, burning away all the remaining tomb structures. No
solid evidence of this has been found, and some scholars think that the mausoleum did not suffer any large-
scale destruction.

In 1987, the mausoleum, including the Terracotta Warriors, were listed as World Heritage Sites


The first fragments of warriors and bronze arrowheads were discovered by Yang Zhifa, his five brothers,
and Wang Puzhi who were digging a well in March 1974 in Xiyang, a village of the Lintong county. At a
depth of around two meters, they found hardened dirt, then red earthenware, fragments of terracotta,
bronze arrowheads and terracotta bricks. Yang Zhifa threw the fragments of terracotta in the corner of the
field, and collected the arrowheads to sell them to a commercial agency. Other villagers took terracotta
bricks to make pillows. A manager in charge of the hydraulic works, Fang Shumiao, saw the objects found
and suggested to the villagers that they sell them to the cultural centre of the district. Yang Zhifa received,
for two carts of fragments of what would turn out to be terracotta warriors, the amount of 10 yuans. Zhao
Kangmin, responsible of the cultural centre, then came to the village and bought everything that the villagers
uncovered, as well as re-purchasing the arrowheads sold to the commercial agency.

In May 1974, a team of archaeologists from Shaanxi went to the site to undertake the first excavations of
what would later be designated Pit 1. In May 1976, Pit 2 was discovered by drilling and in July the Pit 3. The
excavations over an area of 20,000 square meters produced about 7,000 statues of terracotta warriors and
horses, and about a hundred wooden battle chariots and numerous weapons.Large structures have been
erected to protect the pits; the first was finished in 1979. A larger necropolis of six hundred pits have been
uncovered by 2008.Some pits were found a few kilometers away from the mound of the tomb of
Emperor Qin Shi Huang
General view of the pit n1 in the museum of Xi'an

Forbidden City (Palace Museum)

Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum, and Gu Gong in Chinese, lies at the city center of
Beijing, and once served as the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368
- 1911). It was first built throughout 14 years during the reign of Emperor Chengzu in the Ming Dynasty
(1368-1644). Ancient Chinese Astronomers believed that the Purple Star (Polaris) was in the center of
heaven and the Heavenly Emperor lived in the Purple Palace. The Palace for the emperor on earth was so
called the Purple City. It was forbidden to enter without special permission of the emperor. Hence its name
'The Purple Forbidden City', usually 'The Forbidden City'.

Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the
world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a 52-meter-wide moat and a 10-
meter-high wall are more than 8,700 rooms. The wall has a gate on each side. The distance between the
south Meridian Gate (Wumen) and the north Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) is 961 meters (1,051
yards), while the distance between the east and west gates is 753 meters (823 yards). There are unique
and delicately structured towers on each of the four corners of the curtain wall. These afford views over
both the palace and the city outside.

It is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his
supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal

Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming
dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some
five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural
Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide.

Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor
(Emperor Chengzu, Zhu Di) of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420, and then
the capital city was moved from Nanjing to Beijing the next year. It was said that a million workers including
one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Stone needed was quarried from
Fangshan District. It was said a well was dug every fifty meters along the road in order to pour water onto
the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amounts of timber and other materials were
freighted from faraway provinces.

Ancient Chinese people displayed their very considerable skills in building it. Take the grand red city wall
for example. It has an 8.6 meters wide base reducing to 6.66 meters wide at the top. The angular shape of
the wall totally frustrates attempts to climb it. The bricks were made from white lime and glutinous rice while
the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites. These incredible materials make the wall
extraordinarily strong.

Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in it. Roofs are built with yellow glazed
tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a
special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The
reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.

Nowadays, it is open to tourists from home and abroad. Splendid painted decoration on these royal
architectural wonders, the grand and deluxe halls, with their surprisingly magnificent treasures will certainly
satisfy 'modern civilians'.

Perhaps the most actually consists of numerous walls and fortifications, many running parallel to
recognizable symbol of China and its long and vivid history, the Great Wall of China each other. Originally
conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang (c. 259-210 B.C.) in the third century B.C. as a means of preventing
incursions from barbarian nomads into the Chinese Empire, the wall is one of the most extensive
construction projects ever completed. The best-known and best-preserved section of the Great Wall was
built in the 14th through 17th centuries A.D., during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Though the Great Wall
never effectively prevented invaders from entering China, it came to function more as a psychological
barrier between Chinese civilization and the world, and remains a powerful symbol of the countrys enduring


Though the beginning of the Great Wall of China can be traced to the third century B.C., many of the
fortifications included in the wall date from hundreds of years earlier, when China was divided into a number
of individual kingdoms during the so-called Warring States Period. Around 220 B.C., Qin Shi Huang, the
first emperor of a unified China, ordered that earlier fortifications between states be removed and a number
of existing walls along the northern border be joined into a single system that would extend for more than
10,000 li (a li is about one-third of a mile) and protect China against attacks from the north.

When Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered construction of the Great Wall around 221 B.C., the labor force that
built the wall was made up largely of soldiers and convicts. It is said that as many as 400,000 people died
during the wall's construction; many of these workers were buried within the wall itself.

Construction of the Wan Li Chang Cheng, or 10,000-Li-Long Wall, was one of the most ambitious building
projects ever undertaken by any civilization. The famous Chinese general Meng Tian directed the project,
and was said to have used a massive army of soldiers, convicts and commoners as workers. Made mostly
of earth and stone, the wall stretched from the China Sea port of Shanhaiguan over 3,000 miles west into
Gansu province. In some strategic areas, sections of the wall overlapped for maximum security (including
the Badaling stretch, north of Beijing, that was later restored by the Ming dynasty). From a base of 15 to 50
feet, the Great Wall rose some 15-30 feet high and was topped by ramparts 12 feet or higher; guard towers
were distributed at intervals along it.


With the death of Qin Shi Huang and the fall of the Qin dynasty, much of the Great Wall fell into disrepair.
After the fall of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), a series of frontier tribes seized control in northern
China. The most powerful of these was the Northern Wei dynasty (386-535 A.D.), which repaired and
extended the existing wall to defend against attacks from other tribes. The Bei Qi kingdom (550577) built
or repaired more than 900 miles of wall, and the short-lived but effective Sui dynasty (581618) repaired
and extended the Great Wall of China a number of times.

With the fall of the Sui and the rise of the Tang dynasty (618-907), the Great Wall lost its importance as a
fortification, as China had defeated the Tujue tribe to the north and expanded past the original frontier
protected by the wall. During the Song dynasty (960-1279), the Chinese were forced to withdraw under
threat from the Liao and Jin peoples to the north, who took over many areas on both sides of the Great
Wall. The powerful Yuan (Mongol) dynasty (1206-1368) established byGenghis Khan eventually controlled
all of China, parts of Asia and sections of Europe. Though the Great Wall held little importance for the
Mongols as a military fortification, soldiers were assigned to man the wall in order to protect merchants and
caravans traveling along the profitable trade routes established during this period.


Despite its long history, the Great Wall of China as it is exists today was constructed mainly during the
mighty Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Like the Mongols, the early Ming rulers had little interest in building
border fortifications, and wall building was limited before the late 15th century. In 1421, the Ming emperor
Yongle proclaimed Chinas new capital, Beijing, on the site of the former Mongol city of Dadu. Under the
strong hand of the Ming rulers, Chinese culture flourished, and the period saw an immense amount of
construction in addition to the Great Wall, including bridges, temples and pagodas. The construction of the
Great Wall as it is known today began around 1474. After an initial phase of territorial expansion, Ming
rulers took a largely defensive stance, and their reformation and extension of the Great Wall was key to this

The Ming wall extended from the Yalu River in Liaoning Province to the eastern bank of the Taolai River in
Gansu Province, and winded its way from east to west through todays Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing,
Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia and Gansu.

Starting west of Juyong Pass, the Great Wall was split into south and north lines, respectively named the
Inner and Outer Walls. Strategic passes (i.e., fortresses) and gates were placed along the wall; the
Juyong, Daoma and Zijing passes, closest to Beijing, were named the Three Inner Passes, while further
west were Yanmen, Ningwu and Piantou, the Three Outer Passes. All six passes were heavily garrisoned
during the Ming period and considered vital to the defense of the capital.


In the mid-17th century, the Manchus from central and southern Manchuria broke through the Great Wall
and encroached on Beijing, eventually forcing the fall of the Ming dynasty and beginning of the Qing
(Manchu) dynasty (1644-1912). Between the 18th and 20th centuries, the Great Wall emerged as the most
common emblem of China for the Western world, and a symbol both physicala manifestation of Chinese
strengthand psychologicala representation of the barrier maintained by the Chinese state to repel foreign
influences and exert control over its citizens.

Today, the Great Wall is generally recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in history.
In 1987, UNESCO designated the Great Wall a World Heritage site, and a popular claim that emerged in
the 20th century holds that it is the only manmade structure that is visible from the moon. Over the years,
roadways have been cut through the wall in various points, and many sections have deteriorated after
centuries of neglect. The best-known section of the Great Wall of ChinaBadaling, located 43 miles (70 km)
northwest of Beijingwas rebuilt in the late 1950s, and attracts thousands of national and foreign tourists
every day.

The Temple of Heaven (Chinese; pinyin: Tintn; Manchu: Abkai mukdehun), is an imperial complex of
religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by
the Emperors of the Ming and Qingdynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest.
It has been regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese heaven worship, especially by the reigning
monarch of the day, predates Taoism.


The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was
also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The complex was extended and
renamed Temple of Heaven during the reign of theJiajing Emperor in the 16th century. Jiajing also built
three other prominent temples in Beijing, the Temple of Sun in the east, the Temple of Earth in the north,
and the Temple of Moon in the west. The Temple of Heaven was renovated in the 18th century under
the Qianlong Emperor. By then, the state budget was insufficient, so this was the last large-scale renovation
of the temple complex in imperial times.

The temple was occupied by the Anglo-French Alliance during the Second Opium War. In 1900, during
the Boxer Rebellion, the Eight Nation Alliance occupied the temple complex and turned it into the force's
temporary command in Beijing, which lasted for one year. The occupation desecrated the temple and
resulted in serious damage to the building complex and the garden. Robberies of temple artifacts by the
Alliance were also reported. With the downfall of the Qing, the temple complex was left un-managed. The
neglect of the temple complex led to the collapse of several halls in the following years.

In 1914, Yuan Shikai, then President of the Republic of China, performed a Ming prayer ceremony at the
temple, as part of an effort to have himself declared Emperor of China. In 1918 the temple was turned into
a park and for the first time open to the public.

The Temple of Heaven was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 and was described as "a
masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of
great importance for the evolution of one of the worlds great civilizations..." as the "symbolic layout and
design of the Temple of Heaven had a profound influence on architecture and planning in the Far East over
many centuries.


The Temple grounds cover 2.73 km of parkland and comprises three main groups of constructions, all built
according to strict philosophical requirements:

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 36 meters in diameter
and 38 meters tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests.
The building is completely wooden, with no nails. The original building was burned down by a fire caused
by lightning in 1889.] The current building was re-built several years after the incident.
The Imperial Vault of Heaven is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone
base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and resembles it, but is smaller. It is
surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. The
Imperial Vault is connected to the Hall of Prayer by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360-metre-long (1,180 ft)
raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer.
The Circular Mound Altar is the altar proper, located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is an empty
circular platform on three levels of marble stones, each decorated by lavishly carved dragons. The numbers
of various elements of the Altar, including its balusters and steps, are either the sacred number nine or its
nonuples. The center of the altar is a round slate called the Heart of Heaven or the Supreme Yang , where
the Emperor prayed for favorable weather. Thanks to the design of the altar, the sound of the prayer will be
reflected by the guardrail, creating significant resonance, which was supposed to help the prayer
communicate with Heaven. The Altar was built in 1530 by the Jiajing Emperor and rebuilt in 1740.

In ancient China, the Emperor of China was regarded as the Son of Heaven, who administered earthly
matters on behalf of, and representing, heavenly authority. To be seen to be showing respect to the source
of his authority, in the form of sacrifices to heaven, was extremely important. The temple was built for these
ceremonies, mostly comprising prayers for good harvests.

Twice a year the Emperor and all his retinue would move from the Forbidden City through Beijing to encamp
within the complex, wearing special robes and abstaining from eatingmeat. No ordinary Chinese was
allowed to view this procession or the following ceremony. In the temple complex the Emperor would
personally pray to Heaven for good harvests. The highpoint of the ceremony at the winter solstice was
performed by the Emperor on the Earthly Mount. The ceremony had to be perfectly completed; it was widely
held that the smallest of mistakes would constitute a bad omen for the whole nation in the coming year.


Earth was represented by a square and Heaven by a circle; several features of the temple complex
symbolize the connection of Heaven and Earth, of circle and square. The whole temple complex is
surrounded by two cordons of walls; the outer wall has a taller, semi-circular northern end, representing
Heaven, and a shorter, rectangular southern end, representing the Earth. Both the Hall of Prayer for Good
Harvests and the Circular Mound Altar are round, each standing on a square yard, again representing
Heaven and Earth.

The number nine represents the Emperor and is evident in the design of the Circular Mound Altar: a single
round marmor plate is surrounded by a ring of nine plates, then a ring of 18 plates, and so on for a total of
nine surrounding rings, the outermost having 99 plates.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has four inner, twelve middle and twelve outer pillars, representing
the four seasons, twelve months and twelve traditional Chinese hours respectively. Combined together, the
twelve middle and twelve outer pillars represent the traditional solar term.

All the buildings within the Temple have special dark blue roof tiles, representing the Heaven.

The Seven-Star Stone Group, east of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, represents the seven peaks
of Taishan Mountain, a place of Heaven worship in classical China.

There are four main supportive, dragon pillars each representing a season. The structure, held up by these
dragons, imitates the style of an ancient Chinese royal palace. Twelve inner pillars symbolize the lunar
months, and it is thought that the twelve outer pillars refer to the 12 two-hour periods of the day.

The Summer Palace (Chinese:; pinyn: Yhyun), is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces
in Beijing, China. It serves as a popular tourist destination and recreational park. Mainly dominated by
Longevity Hill (; Wnshu Shn) and Kunming Lake (; Knmng H), it covers an expanse of 2.9 square
kilometres (1.1 sq mi), three-quarters of which is water.

Longevity Hill is about 60 metres (200 feet) high and has many buildings positioned in sequence. The front
hill is rich with splendid halls and pavilions, while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with natural beauty.
The central Kunming Lake, covering 2.2 square kilometres (540 acres), was entirely man-made and the
excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill.

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the
Summer Palace "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and
open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to
form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value".


Pre-quing dynasty

The origins of the Summer Palace date back to the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty in 1153, when the fourth
ruler, Wanyan Liang (r. 11501161), moved the Jin capital from Huining Prefecture (in present-day Acheng
District, Harbin, Heilongjiang) to Yanjing (present-dayBeijing). He ordered the construction of a palace in
the Fragrant Hills and Jade Spring Hill in the northwest of Beijing.

Around 1271, after the Yuan dynasty established its capital in Khanbaliq (present-day Beijing), the
engineer Guo Shoujing initiated a waterworks project to direct the water from Shenshan Spring in Baifu
Village , Changping into the Western Lake , which would later become Kunming Lake. Guo's aim was to
create a water reservoir that would ensure a stable water supply for the palace.

In 1494, the Hongzhi Emperor (r. 14871505) of the Ming dynasty had a Yuanjing Temple built for his wet
nurse, Lady Luo, in front of Jar Hill , which was later renamed Longevity Hill. The temple fell into disrepair
over the years and was abandoned, and the area around the hill became lush with vegetation. The Zhengde
Emperor (r. 150521), who succeeded the Hongzhi Emperor, built a palace on the banks of the Western
Lake and turned the area into an imperial garden. He renamed Jar Hill, "Golden Hill" and named the lake
"Golden Sea" Both the Zhengde Emperor and the Wanli Emperor (r. 15721620) enjoyed taking boat rides
on the lake. During the reign of theTianqi Emperor (r. 162027), the court eunuch Wei Zhongxian took the
imperial garden as his personal property.