Architectural Art with the Splendor of Divine Nature and Deep Cultural Meaning
[PureInsight.org] Different Gods created different human races and imparted different cultures. In its two thousand year development, Christianity left many lasting artistic works. Also, in the Tang Dynasty, the synergy of Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism brought about the most prosperous civilization in China’s history.
Architecture is one of the most well developed material art forms on earth. It is music frozen into physical form and painting made three-dimensional.
Observing the history of eastern and western architecture, the most brilliant architectural works all shine with the splendor of divine nature and bear deep cultural meaning.
I. The Most Brilliant Architectural Artworks Are Connected with Gods
1. Ancient Greek Architecture
Ancient Greek architecture not only lays a foundation for western classical construction, but has a very profound influence. The characteristic of ancient Greek architecture is harmonious, perfect and noble. In particular, the ancient Greek temple is the most distilled reflection of these characteristics.
Column-shaped construction embodies harmony and nobility. There are three shapes of ancient columns, namely the Doric order, the Ionic order and the Corinthian order. The accurate proportions of the columns (foundation, body and head) and the molding patterns show their sublime beauty.
The Parthenon temple is located at the highest point of the Acropolis, and it employs a rectangular layout based on three level foundations. It looks firm and imposing.
2. St. Sophia Church
In A.D.313, The Roman Emperor Constantine gave protection to those Christians who were being persecuted by the Romans, ordered their confiscated possessions returned and granted Christianity a legal status. After Emperor Constantine unified Rome, he moved to Byzantium and the style of the church changed to the Byzantine style.
St. Sophia Church is a comprehensive embodiment of the architecture of the Byzantine style. The spherical dome of the church is like a pearl mounted on the seashore: magnificent and awe-inspiring. Although the exterior was roughly decorated, the interior is very delicate. Through 40 small holes located in the big dome, natural light is brought into the church, which makes the atmosphere changing, graceful and mystical. The stained glass on the doors and windows are colorful, the columns and walls are decorated with colorful marbles. A beautiful glass mosaic alternating with blue and gold colors is fastened to the inside of the dome.
3. Koln Church
During the Middle Ages, Christian theology prevailed in Europe. At that time, architectural art made a tremendous breakthrough, producing Gothic church architectural art such as seen in the Notre Dame and Koln churches. These artistic masterpieces could serve the purpose of bringing people’s spirit into humble and sincere confession.
In western countries, people believe in God and believe that God created human beings, and because humans committed wrongdoing they were cast down to this human world. People can return to heaven only by believing in God and atoning for their sins. God cannot only save people from tribulations, but He also judges their good and bad behaviors. The laws in this human world have been designed according to God’s intention, and even a king is also restrained by these heavenly laws. God has absolute power.
If one is not in opposition to these heavenly laws, they can make breakthroughs with devoted confession, and finally reach the divine level.
On its front side, Koln Church has two towers 160 meters high. They are solemn, sacred, delicate, and also incorporate the special character of Germany. The high ogive of the tower is vertical, which demonstrates an aesthetic effect of sublimation and the transcendence of this secular world.
4. St. Peter's Church
St. Peter's Church, located at where Saint Peter was martyred, is the largest church in the world and it is also an important monument of the Italian Renaissance.
Its entire architecture is in the structure of a cross with magnificent decorations inside. On the famous arched roof in the middle is a masterpiece by Michelangelo. On the roof and walls are paintings of biblical scenes, and there are eleven sculptures on the eaves of the circular roof.
The Baroque-style architecture is splendid, novel, whimsical, irregular and against classical traditions. The Rococo style is gentle and slim. These two styles give people a kind of pleasure-seeking and decadent feeling. Maybe they can make people feel cozy and happy, but they do not inspire in people feelings of sacredness like the Koln Church.
The most distinguished architectural styles are all related to Gods. Belief in gods can purify people’s hearts, open their minds and let people have mystical experiences. Without the guidance of Gods, people would enjoy a pleasure-seeking life and gradually descend in their spiritual level.
II. Traditional Chinese Architecture is Based On the Profound Chinese Traditional Culture
Western architecture is built with brick and stone, while Chinese traditional architecture is built with wood.
Ancient Chinese architecture shows the profound Chinese culture, the cosmic theory that man is an integral part of nature, and the teachings of Daoism on following the natural way and reaching a lofty and harmonious realm.
Ancient Chinese architecture is simple and introspective and has the splendor and balance of the Confucian School. Without abrupt changes, towering points and eccentricity, ancient Chinese architecture can be enjoyed and understood easily and it follows the cultural characteristics of “simplicity and honesty.”
1. The Siheyuan Style
The Confucian School teaches people to be peaceful and rational. Loyalty, piety, courteousness, and righteousness have been unconsciously influencing the Chinese culture for thousands of years: “Once you are righteous and honest, you yourself become cultivated, then the family becomes ordered, then the country becomes organized, and then all the world becomes peaceful;” “From an individual to a great person, people should be useful to the world.”
Traditional Siheyuan architecture consists of houses on all sides. Its layout is very compact, orderly, symmetrical and stable. The inside courtyard can host a range of independent activities. People can talk and drink tea with happiness. The structure of the house coincides with the Dao School principle of yin and yang, the five elements, secular balance, the feudal code of ethics and geomancy. Siheyuan architecture is the most common residential architecture and is a representation of the stability of the common people.
In Siheyuan architecture, several generations can live under the same roof, and there exist the relationships of individuals and group, father and son, mother and daughter, and they live together harmoniously. Siheyuan is an architectural form that represents the family, and it can be seen how deeply the Chinese pay attention to piety and family affection when people mention Siheyuan architecture.
Siheyuan is the miniature of the society in that it shows the proper regard for the elderly and keeping the inside information separate from the outside. From palace to dwelling house, the compound style is widely used, and it also has the function to keep and strengthen ethical rules and thinking.
The Forbidden City in Beijing has a symmetrical layout with a clear structure. It is an example of Siheyuan architecture on the largest scale and most complicated style.
Contrary to Siheyuan architecture, the Chinese temple deliberately mixes the inside and the outside and pays attention to the mutual exchange of inside and outside space. The temple’s doors, walls, pavilions, and corridors are all open to the outside and manifest the cosmic theory that man is an integral part of nature and the highlights the balance of yin and yang.
Ancient temples are usually located in mountains and are in harmony with nature. Temples have not only a solemn atmosphere but a natural feel. The perking eaves, like both the pigeon wings and new moon, make the heavy construction look graceful. The graceful eaves also direct people’s eyes to the ethereal heavenly paradise.
Architecture from the Tang Dynasty is magnificent, simple and powerful. Today, the Nanchan Temple main hall and the Foguang Temple main hall on Wutai Mountain are still intact. Built in A.D. 782 in the Tang Dynasty, Nanchan Temple is one of the earliest examples of wooden temple architecture. Foguang Temple was built in A.D.857 and there are “four superb works” inside, namely: sculpture, wall painting, calligraphy, and architecture. They also are called “treasures in the world.” Besides having stupas all around, they are tall, forceful, simple and glorious, which shows the magnificent decorative arts of the Tang Dynasty.
Zhenwu Pavilions in Rong County, Guangxi Province have an ingenious construction that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The pavilion is made of wood without a single piece of iron. By using the lever control theory, the whole construction makes use of mutual support and mutual restraint. The roof is smooth, simple and unfolding.
About 400 years ago, the Zhenwu Pavilion maintained intact after experiencing five earthquakes and three violent typhoons. The Zhenwu Pavilion, along with the Yueyang Mansion, Huanghe Mansion and Tengwang Pavilion, are called the four famous mansions in the regions south of the Yangtze River and they are also four ancient mansions which have not been rebuilt, but still have their original construction intact.
3. Classical Gardens
Chinese classical gardens are influenced by the poetry of the Tang and Song dynasties and are rich in poetic and artistic conception. They are usually the model of a scholar’s freehand brush painting. Pavilions, terraces, and open halls contrast and complement with lakes and mountains. Carved beams and painted rafters along with couplets open up a new view. Landscapes, with many twists and turns, change when you move a little bit, and show a hidden but beautiful scene.
“Recreating the cosmos within a distance close at hand,” and “Although it is built by people, it seems to be created by heaven” are two phrases that have been used to describe the classical gardens. Modeled after nature and embodying a return to one’s original self and a leisurely life, are the artistic conception and meaning of these classical gardens.
The Suzhou Chinese garden combines natural beauty and the creative arts, and it is refined and elegant.
In Siheyuan architecture, the temple and garden stand for the common people, monks and scholars in China.
Chinese traditional culture has a profound history. By studying it seriously, one can grasp its connotations and lay a solid foundation for further understanding and innovation.
In the most recent one hundred years, because of the interference and distortion of the traditional Chinese culture under the tyrannical rule of the Chinese Communist Part (CCP) and the impact of commodity globalization, the traditional Chinese culture has been deviating and distorting. It is very important to rediscover the true culture and reject the dross. Isn’t it pitiable to lose our genuine traditional culture, and instead take some of the garbage from western countries as a treasure?
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2008/8/24/54507.html