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Title: Taiwanese vernacular architecture and settlements : the influence of religious beliefs and practices
Author: Chen, Chie-peng
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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In analysing architectural environments, several approaches can be used. In this thesis, a religious viewpoint is adopted to interpret Taiwanese architecture and settlements, and the relationships between religious beliefs and the built environment are therefore mainly emphasised. Three important Chinese traditional life notions, feng-shui (geomancy), the supernatural, and ethics have been applied to interpret those relationships throughout the thesis. The thesis is composed of two main parts covering, first, vernacular Taiwanese houses, and, second, settlements. A distinction is also made between static and dynamic aspects. Statically, it is shown how the Taiwanese people, by means of the three traditional notions of feng-shui, the supernatural and ethics, arrange their architectural spaces and spatial elements and engage the whole construction process in building their vernacular houses and settlements in order to maintain a harmonious relationship between gods, ancestral spirits and ghosts. But, an analysis is also made of various religious activities which are intimately related to vernacular houses and settlements to show how they have been applied to further improve the harmonious relationship dynamically. The historical, social, religious and architectural background to the development of Taiwan are described first of all. The two stages of the process of the construction of Taiwanese architecture, first the selection, by virtue of the concepts of feng-shui, of an auspicious site for a building and its spatial elements, and, second, the holding of a series of ceremonies which seek to unite man and nature, and man and supernature, are then outlined. The concepts of feng-shui, the supernatural and ethics are used to interpret the meanings of the main spaces of vernacular houses and the relationships between those spaces and many rituals of Taiwanese life. It is shown how the early immigrant society of Taiwan, as a result of social and economic factors, was transformed into an indigenous society, in which different groups lived together in settlements. A relationship between the layout of these settlements and the cosmos was developed by the use of yasheng objects and rituals along with Chinese concepts of the cosmos.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available