Most of the works of Chinese architecture from before 1360 have not survived. Many of the Chinese buildings were built out of wood. Some structures such as The Great Wall of China, pagodas, tombs, and some bridges were constructed of brick and stone.
Chinese architecture is characterized by a graceful, overhanging roof with turned up eaves. The roof was not supported by walls, but by decorated brackets that were supported by columns. Walls were used only to enclose the room. The roof tiles were covered with colorful and attractive tiles.
With the coming of Buddhism the only change in Chinese architecture was the building of pagodas. Pagodas were square, hexagonal, or octagonal. They were many stories tall, and at the top of each story there was an upward-curving tile roof. The pagodas were commonly built of brick and tile.
Two important Chinese structures are the Forbidden City and The Great Wall. Beijings Forbidden City is a walled in enclosure containing palaces, hallways, and courtyards. It is spectacularly decorated. The Great Wall of China winds 1500mi. (2400 km) across the northern part of China. It consists of many walls that were joined together into one. It was originally connected in the 3rd century BC, then rebuilt in the Wei (386-534) and Sui (581-618) dynasties, and once more in the Ming (1368-1644) dynasty. The Great Wall is 13-40 ft. (4-12m) thick, and 20-50 ft. (6-15m) tall. The wall has several gates going through it.
For nearly 2000 years Chinese architecture stayed basically the same. Eventually the buildings were built larger with less curved roofs, and the brackets were more decorative then useful. The buildings were more commonly made of stone.
Chinese architecture greatly influenced the architecture of Japan. It came to Japan in the 6th century with the coming of Buddhism. the Japanese temple design was similar to the pattern of the symmetrical Chinese temple. Japanese buildings had graceful overhanging roofs and columns.
Wood was the preferred building material for Japanese buildings. They were simple and only had vital supports that were designed to withstand earthquakes. Each building was sparsely decorated. They were built with gardens and ponds around them and in courtyards within the buildings. Outer walls were movable panels, and the inner walls were usually screens dividing rooms.
When Buddhism came to Japan, the Japanese started building pagodas. They were about 5 stories tall and made out of wood. They were usually a part of a group of buildings.
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