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Culture of China: Traditional Chinese Residences

  • Traditional Chinese Residences
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Product Description

Product: Traditional Chinese Residences
Author: Wang Qijun
Language: English
Published by Foreign Languages Press, 2002
Paperback, 7.5 x 6.625 inches, 107 pages
ISBN: 7119030418 9787119030418

This album, with over 100 color photos and black-and-white drawings, gives a general introduction to the history of traditional Chinese residences and their artistic characteristics and architectural forms. The illustrations are accompanied by a detailed explanatory text.

The album shows various examples of the wide scope of Chinese residences, such as the courtyard houses (siheyuan ) of Beijing, earthen dwellings in Fujian Province, and Tibetan fortified manor houses. 

Chinese residences occupy a prominent place in world architectural history. The fengshui principles guiding the location and construction of early dwellings meant that they blended in with and complemented their surrounding topography.

Chinese fengshui -- geomancy, is based on the theories of qi (vital energy), yin/yang (positive and negative forces), and the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire and earth. In combination with these principles, geomancers also used The Eight Trigrams from the Book of Changes to divine an appropriate site for a new building.

Chinese residences were built according to a strict hierarchy. The History of the Song Dynasty states: "The home of a prince in office is known as a fu, that of an official a zhai, and that of a commoner is called jia." There were stipulations as to the size and style of dwellings at each hierarchical level. During the Ming Dynasty, this tradition ostensibly continued, but many high officials, rich merchants and landlords ignored it. Historical records show that certain people owned palatial houses of up to 1,000 rooms, with splendid gardens, and covering an area of several thousand square kilometers.

The "void/solid" convention of building apparent in traditional Chinese residences, whereby the void sets off the solid, which, in turn, defines space, has been a significant and influential aspect of world architectural aesthetics. The beauty of contrast this principle embodies is defined as: "Density to the point of impermeableness, and emptiness to the point where horses might gallop through." Within this concept, railings, pierced stonework or brickwork, and window lattices act as frames and distancing agents -- intermediaries for exterior views and inside settings. Structures that partition and connect materialize the principle of the void accompanied by the solid. Rhythmic variances of the void and the solid imbue a residence with tranquility, and a sense of solitude.

In prehistoric times, dwellings were crude, and tended to be similar in design the world over; they differed only in the availability of local building materials and the topography they had to adapt to. As the techniques of production improved, the styles of clothing, cuisine, transportation, etc. of different peoples gradually took on their own national colors and cultural characteristics. The same was true for the shelters that people built to dwell in, and a wide diversity of styles formed all over the world. Chinese residences, in particular, occupy a unique place in the history of world architecture.


A Survey of Traditional Chinese Residences

The Development of Traditional Chinese Residences
The Artistic Features of Traditional Chinese Residences

Proper Layout: The Void Accompanied by the Solid
Tranquil Interior Surrounded by Solid Walls
Displaying a Picturesque Tone
Simplicity Elegance and Connection Between Exterior and Interior
Tasteful Decoration in Bright Colors
Poetic and Melodious Beauty

Major Architectural Forms of Traditional Chinese Residences

The Courtyard House of Beijing
Residences in Qixian County, Shanxi Province
Cave Dwellings
Residential Buildings in Southern Anhui Province
Residential Buildings in the Southern Region of Rivers and Lakes
Red-brick Dwellings in Quanzhou
Earthen Buildings in Fujian Province
Fortified Compound in Southern Jiangxi Province
The U-shaped Compounds of the Hakka
Fortified Buildings in Kaiping
Flagstone Buildings in Guizhou Province
Residential Buildings of the Koreans
Mongolian Yurts
Residential Buildings of the Uygurs
Houses on Stilts
Residential Buildings in Lijiang
The Houses of the Bai
Tibetan Fortified Manor Houses
Appendix: Locations of Major Types of Chinese Residences

The "Culture of China" Series:
The “Culture of China?Series introduces various aspects of Chinese art and culture. All titles in the series have nice text with color photos and chronologies. All books are well-designed, formatted, and printed on high quality glossy paper, both beautiful and educational.
All titles in the series: Traditional Painting ; Land of Silk ; Ancient Sculpture ; Fascinating Stage Arts ; Folk Genre Paintings ; Pottery and Porcelain ; Rare Wild Animals ; Taoism ; Traditional Chinese Residences ; Ancient Chinese Architecture ; Art of Chinese Pavilions ; Chinese Archeology ; Famous Mountains and Rivers ; Folk Handicrafts ; Southwestern Silk Road ; Traditional Chinese Costumes ; West China Panorama ; World Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites ; China's Ethnic Minorities ; Classical Chinese Gardens ; Museums: Treasure Houses of History...

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