Douba Zaojing and its Colored Paintings on the First Floor of the Timber Pagoda

Gu, Xinyi, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Huang, Yunsheng, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Brothers, Cammy, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Li, Shiqiao, Department of Architecture, University of Virginia

Comprehensive studies were done on the wooden structure of the Timber Pagoda (1056 CE) of the Liao dynasty in northern China and the standard colored paintings based on Yingzao Fashi. Focusing on one single example of douba zaojing (octagonal domed coffered ceiling), this thesis makes an effort to combine the strengths of researches on both structure and ornamentation by treating the composition of the wooden members and the colored paintings on the zaojing as a whole, and employing the approaches of both architectural analysis and art historical studies.

The first intention of this thesis is to infer the patterns of colored paintings and their composition on the zaojing which have been repainted in modern times following the original contours. A painting of restoration is drawn by the author as a suggestion of the original appearance. This thesis further argues that the Liao design of douba zaojing is a reinvention based on three traditions: the Han tradition of zaojing in palace halls, the tent canopies from the Middle East and the umbrella canopies that started to be used in Buddhist art during the Southern and Northern dynasties. Through this reinvented zaojing, buddhist statues gain a stronger relation to the architectures housing them.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
colored paintings, douba zaojing, original
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