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Build for the Living: Stone Buildings of the Yuan Dynasty

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It is easy to find an association between stone architecture and the afterlife in pre-modern China, given that most architecture of brick and stone was used only for mortuary monuments. People in pre-modern China may have believed that timber architecture was for the living while stone architecture was for the deceased. The fact that stone architecture often was designed to imitate timber architecture further buttresses the dominance of timber, both structurally and aesthetically, in the architectural history of pre-modern China. This article focuses on several stone buildings that were built during the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) for daily religious activities and were rare exceptions to the normative association of stone architecture with the afterlife. Through the study of the structure, decorative motifs and history of these stone buildings, I determine whether they were built to reflect the tradition of imitation timber architecture or were an exception to the dominance of timber architecture. I investigate how these stone buildings should be contextualized in the history of Yuan as well as the history of Chinese architecture.

10.3868/s020-004-015-0015-8
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/content/journals/10.3868/s020-004-015-0015-8
2015-08-19
2017-11-24

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