Re­li­gious struc­tures in­flu­enced by tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE | TREND - By XUWEI

The ar­chi­tec­tural lay­outs of Bud­dhist and Taoist tem­ples have largely been sim­i­lar in China, as the build­ings of both re­li­gions have been un­der strong in­flu­ence from the tra­di­tional cul­ture, ac­cord­ing to ar­chi­tects.

“To me, the only tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ence is that the build­ing in the main court­yard of a Bud­dhist tem­ple is a pagoda, while the build­ing in that of aTaoist tem­ple is an al­tar,” saidTao Jin, an ar­chi­tect who has spe­cial­ized in the de­sign­ing of re­li­gious build­ings.

Taoist architecture in­cludes tem­ples, palaces, nun­ner­ies, al­tars and huts where re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties are per­formed.

Sim­i­lar to Bud­dhist architecture, it can be di­vided into holy halls for sac­ri­fice, al­tars to pray at, houses to live in and rooms to chant scrip­tures in ac­cor­dance with their use, ac­cord­ing to the web­site of the Taoist As­so­ci­a­tion of China.

Liang Sicheng, the late Chi­nese ar­chi­tect and scholar of­ten known as the fa­ther of mod­ern Chi­nese architecture, wrote that the lay­out of Bud­dhist build­ings in China had al­ready been shaped dur­ing the 4th and 5th cen­turies.

“They gen­er­ally adopted the court­yard lay­out of worldly build­ings. Start­ing from the main gate of the tem­ple, there will be a palace hall be­tween fixed dis­tances. The im­por­tance of the halls will in­crease grad­u­ally, with the most im­por­tant hall is lo­cated in the third or fourth of all build­ings,” he wrote.

Quite dif­fer­ent from the com­mon stereo­type that Bud­dhist tem­ples are gen­er­ally lo­cated in sub­ur­ban area or even wild moun­tains, Liang wrote that a ma­jor­ity of Bud­dhist tem­ples were lo­cated in the densely pop­u­lated ur­ban ar­eas in the an­cient times.

Tao said a ma­jor­ity of both Taoist and Bud­dhist tem­ples were built with wooden struc­tures in the an­cient times.

“And that has also made them vul­ner­a­ble to fire, and dif­fi­cult to pre­serve in the long term,” he said.

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