Traditions of Architectural Technology

Chinese Building Manuals and Traditions of Architectural Technology

Feng Jiren

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An illustration from the Yingzao fashi (Building Standards): Side view of two bracket sets (juan 30: 7b; 1925 edition).

In China, master craftsmen and imperial architects as well as scholars summarized practical knowledge of building in manuals and presented them to specific audiences. Among the many texts available, the Song official building manual Yingzao fashi (Building Standards, 1103) established an authoritative and orthodox reference for later-period building practices. This project explored how later generations in China preserved this legacy and how post-Song building manuals dealt with the conflict between maintaining tradition and incorporating innovation and technical invention. By comparing the contents of the Yingzao fashi and later works the research uncovered distinctive cultural connotations and architectural conceptualization that underlie technical methods, the Chinese professional terminology, and both structural and decorative details.