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Title: The use of ceramic in Chinese late imperial architecture
Author: Eng, Sunchuan Clarence
ISNI:       0000 0004 2722 7053
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines the choice of ceramic materials for traditional architecture and the circumstances which influenced their selection. Traditional Chinese buildings have been studied by architectural historians more for the qualities of their timber framework and less for their ceramic content, even though this can be the major visible component of a structure. Because of their dissimilar production techniques, function and often size, Chinese architectural ceramics do not fit comfortably alongside the appreciation and study of [me ceramic wares for domestic or ritual use. Architectural components therefore occupy an interdisciplinary area bordering upon Chinese architectural history and Chinese ceramics, and this is reflected in a small but growing body of relevant literature. Field-work has focused on extant structures and archaeological remains in the former Ming capitals of Nanjing and Beijing, and on sites throughout Shanxi Province, the latter a region rich in extant examples of traditional architecture and ceramic ornament produced by elite patronage of skilled local craftsmanship. Buildings were used as the primary source and observations of architectural ceramics in situ compared against specimens in collections and described in documentary sources. Structures studied were primarily on religious sites and also included palace halls and screen-walls. The study focused on the Ming period, but structures from earlier and later periods were included in order to observe changes in styling and techniques. Chinese traditional buildings are designed for continuous maintenance, and the precise age of individual components is often mixed. The social history of a structure, with its various renovations and repairs, is therefore often more significant than its date of origin. The study examines evidence of trial, innovation and stylistic freedom alongside factors which may have promoted or hindered these choices, and very different circumstances appear to have prevailed in all three study locations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral