Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Value of Foguang Temple

By Li Haoyang 

China has a long history. Lots of important and treasure things have lost during the history stream. Sometimes Chinese can only study and know some old time’s creative stuffs from the books. The discovery of the Foguang Temple has great meaning. First of all, the building itself has unmatched meaning. How a wood building survival to now during the 1200 years? The Dougong contribute to its survival. And the location of it also good for maintain it. The site of the temple is in the middle of the hill. It is so hard to go inside. By this case, temple is away from the people, also away from the war. The climate in the hill is great. Not too cold or too hot, especially not to moist. Luckily, we can touch it and do research of it today.
The Tang Dynasty is a prosperity country. Not only of the economy and the military, but also of the culture. At that time, the technique of bronze and silver and stone had development very fast. And the peace make artist have lots of time and opportunity to do the art works. (Akiyama, Ando, Matsubara, Okazaki & Sekino, 1968) But the paintings are easily broken in the 1000 years. So each extant painting is treasure. In Foguang Temple, There lots of painting on the wall. Interesting things, there are also some paintings from some later periods and some paintings are repaired or mimic by nowadays painters. There are compared together. Tang Dynasty’s painting is still the most beautiful one.
As long as Foguang Temple exists, we do not just rely on the books to feel the wisdom in the past.
Foguang Temple and with some other Tang Dynasty wood buildings together make it possible to finish the book Ying Zao Fa Shi in the Song Dynasty. As I mentioned in the introduction, Ying Zao Fa Shi play a very important role in the Chinese building history. The book is following the Foguang Temple and its same period building’s system. From that book, we can see the way to deal with the wooden building. But before the Foguang Temple and Nanchan Temple (The oldest extant wooden building) have been discovered. Almost all the temple in the China we know is after Song Dynasty. It means these wooden buildings are following the Ying Zao Fa Shi. But when people had known Foguang Temple, we can see the different between Foguang Temple and later building. We can see how Ying Zao Fa Shi written. In the first edition book, the system of structure is almost the same as the Foguang Temple. The book also had changed in the later time. But the main system is still from Foguang Temple. Only the size of Dougong had change a lot. And the standard of Dougong is also influence the later times. The dimension of one member of the Dougong - the width if the Gong or “arm” - was set as the module for determining the proportions of every structural member as well as that of the entire building. The modular is classified into a certain number of “sizes” or “classes” for buildings of different sizes and functions. By employing this modular system in the process of designing, the architect’s work is much simplified and structural members could be prefabricated elsewhere and then assembled at the building site. Certainly, judging from the scientific standards of today, this rather rudimentary system could stand no comparison with the modular, prefabrication, standardization and typification of today. Nevertheless, it may justly be called an elementary prototype of the modern method. (Liang, 2011, P10)

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