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Chinese Gates of Late Imperial China in the Context of Cosmo-Religious Rituals

Jiang, Bing (2014) Chinese Gates of Late Imperial China in the Context of Cosmo-Religious Rituals. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Previous studies on Chinese traditional gates, gatehouses, gateways or city gates were either embedded implicitly in the studies on physical forms and structures of general timber buildings since the 1920s, or dependently hidden in the vast researches on popular customs, literature and religions. In both of these contexts, Chinese gate buildings appeared as beautiful and typical figures as other types of Chinese architecture, with sometimes elaborate yet seemingly randomly and irrational decorations and ornaments that have been taken for granted by the Chinese. The question ‘what could Chinese gates mean’ in this background is not properly answered. This thesis is an excursion into the true character of traditional Chinese gate buildings in their relationships with space, rituals and possible cosmological origins, beyond their vivid images of Chinese style. It is proposed in this thesis that traditional Chinese gates, both of imperial palace gates and domestic entrances, are understood as thresholds, a symbol that marks spatial and political class boundaries in need of social protocols, rites and orders, and a unique intermediary that has been taken for granted by people (the Human World) to correspond to ancient Chinese cosmological understandings. This threshold is the result and dynamic symbol of cosmos of the time. From the oracle bone inscripts for gates/doors of the Shang period to the repeated greetings from the main gate via the U-shaped passage to the main hall in the pre-Han and Han period; from sacrifices to gates to ceremonial pai-lou gateways built for the imperial parade; from the ming-tang in classical texts to the Beijing city gates that practiced the ming-tang ideal; from the symbolic rules for lucky gates to the ritual of opening Wealth gates, sources over a long time span are collected, and arguments are mounted to discover how Chinese gates as architecture might be associated with cosmic symbols and ritual significance, and to further express the fundamental concerns of the implicit and inherent meanings of gates, which truly define them. The ideas proposed in this thesis are radical. However, what is delivered here attempts to bridge some gaps in the field and to provide a base for understanding and a possible direction for further research on the subjects relevant to Chinese architecture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Architecture (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.617235
Depositing User: Miss Bing Jiang
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2014 11:18
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 11:17
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6685

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