Wooden soul:

China Pictorial (English) - - Culture Books -

Color Draw­ings of Chi­nese Ar­chi­tec­ture (Es­sai sur l'ar­chi­tec­ture chi­noise) Anony­mous, trans­lated by fan dong yang, Beijing times chi­nese press, june 2017

Prior to the emer­gence of pho­tog­ra­phy, priests, mis­sion­ar­ies and schol­ars from Western coun­tries trans­mit­ted in­for­ma­tion about the East­ern world by draw­ing what they saw. The color draw­ings col­lected in this book were com­pleted in the 18th Cen­tury by French mis­sion­ar­ies and Chi­nese painters and lack his­tor­i­cal records.

The 188 draw­ings se­lected for the book show­case al­most ev­ery seg­ment of tra­di­tional Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­ture in­clud­ing tools, ma­te­ri­als such as bricks and tiles, walls, screens, pavil­ions, bridges, tow­ers and a wide va­ri­ety of struc­tures with both highly de­tailed and macro-per­spec­tive work.

The edi­tors il­lus­trate con­no­ta­tions of tra­di­tional Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­ture with text from var­i­ous per­spec­tives: The screens rep­re­sent the of­fi­cial sys­tem in an­cient China; The pavil­ions and tow­ers rep­re­sent the unique Chi­nese land­scape; The in­door de­tails de­pict so­cial po­si­tions and the sense of pro­pri­ety in so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties in an­cient China; And the re­la­tion­ship be­tween tow­ers and lim­its on build­ing height ev­i­dences be­liefs and ideals of an­cient Chi­nese royal fam­i­lies and of­fi­cials. Artists at­tempted to de­scribe a mor­pho­log­i­cal China, said trans­la­tor Fan Dongyang.

The draw­ings ap­pear in both Chi­nese ax­ono­met­ric and Western sceno­graphic meth­ods, leav­ing an as­sump­tion that they were com­piled by both Chi­nese and French artists. Also worth men­tion­ing is that they de­pict a com­bi­na­tion of re­al­ity and imag­i­na­tion: The “pavil­ion,” for in­stance, is a real struc­ture but was de­picted in an ab­stract man­ner, while some of the “al­ti­tude build­ings” were in­spired com­pletely by imag­i­na­tion.

In the pref­ace, Fan Dongyang ad­mits that the in­for­ma­tion sur­round­ing these works is in­com­plete and even wrong. For ex­am­ple, there is lit­tle about the tech­nique used to make wooden struc­tures in tra­di­tional Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­ture, and the imag­ined “al­ti­tude struc­tures” may be en­tirely wrong based on avail­able ev­i­dence. Nev­er­the­less, the draw­ings rep­re­sent the en­tire process of “ma­te­rial col­lec­tion, cat­e­go­riza­tion, anal­y­sis, as­sump­tion and seek­ing ev­i­dence, es­tab­lish­ing cause and ef­fect and ask­ing and an­swer­ing ques­tions” on the sub­ject of Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­ture in a spirit of “science” ad­vo­cated by Europe in the Age of En­light­en­ment dur­ing the 18th Cen­tury. It is there­fore of great value from this per­spec­tive.

The trans­la­tor of the book, Fan Dongyang, is a young Chi­nese scholar spe­cial­iz­ing in Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­ture and ur­ban and ru­ral plan­ning. He re­ceived a mas­ter’s de­gree from Sciences Po in Paris and a PH.D. in ur­ban and ru­ral plan­ning from China’s Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

Old tools for brick­lay­ers.

Old tools for car­pen­ters.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.