Urban Elite Houses in the Song Dynasty

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-6933-782X
Zhang, Ding, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Huang, Yunsheng, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia

The Song dynasty was highly evaluated for its achievement in ideology, philosophy, culture, literature, art and technology. The Song city witnessed a flourishing economics and the breakdown of the ward-wall system. Dwellings were no longer isolated in walled wards, and more involved in the public social life than ever before. This thesis analyses house descriptions in literary materials and paintings to demonstrate how urban elite houses changed in this transformative dynasty. To win over scholar-officials, the Song emperors offered privilege for them including loose house regulations. Urban elite houses carried the daily routine which advocated by the elite group to symbolize the elites’ social status. As the ward-wall system collapse, elite houses blended with common people’s houses and commercial buildings in the city. To adjust themselves to the new urban life, the elites designed homes which isolate themselves from the bustling city and political strife. These houses were endowed with owners’ political ambition or frustration, and spiritual pursuits by giving meaningful names and inscriptions for structures and creating gardens. For the elites, houses bore the images of their minds.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Chinese houses, Song dynasty, Chinese architecture
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