Since the Han Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty, due to the expansion of the territory and the influence of Buddhism in the Tang Dynasty, in addition to the existence of physical structures, the structure and paintings of grottoes have also become the subject of research. After the Song Dynasty, there are a large number of physical building survivors, as well as recording texts available for reference, which are the most abundant time-points for studying Chinese traditional architectural physical materials.
Architecture in the Tang Dynasty
Both the capital city of Chang'an and Luoyang of the Tang Dynasty were built with large-scale palaces, courts, and government offices, with more standardized and reasonable layout.
Among them, Chang’An was the most magnificent city in the world at that time whose planning was also the most stringent of the ancient Chinese capitals. The Daming Palace in the city was even more majestic whose site area was equivalent to about three times the total area of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
In addition, most of the buddhist pagodas in the Tang Dynasty were built with masonry, including: Giant and Small Wild Goose Pagodas in Xi'an, Light Tower of Huaisheng Temple in Guangzhou and Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple in Dali. The existing Tang pagodas were built with brick and stone. There are only four wooden buildings of the Tang Dynasty remains, including the Foguang Temple and Nanchan Temple. The earliest Nanzenji Temple was built in 782A.D. which was in the middle Tang Dynasty. The buildings of the early Tang Dynasty can only be viewed from Dunhuang frescoes and contemporary Japanese architecture.
Architecture in the Song Dynasty
The architectural code of the Song Dynasty already had a detailed description of construction. For example, in the Song Dynasty, Yu Hao, a materialist wrote three volumes of The Wooden Scriptures between AD 965 and AD 995. He was responsible for the construction of a wooden tower in Kaifeng, but the tower was destroyed by fire and later reconstructed in iron. At that time, since his works were related to the wealthy craftsmanship, he was considered to have a low academic level, which led to the fact that the book was not officially recorded. Although there were other similar documents in the Tang Dynasty, such as "The Order of the Encounter”, Li Jie's construction method was still the oldest existing Chinese architectural construction code.
With the rejuvenation of Buddhism by the Emperor Song, old Buddhist temples were reconstructed and expanded. For example, Da Xiangguo Temple in Kaifeng, Henan, Zhengding Longxing Temple in Hebei, Yunqing Temple in Deqing, and Fengguo Temple in Yi County. They all inherited the Buddhist temple architecture of the Tang Dynasty as the main layout of the central axis. The pagoda was introduced with Buddhism in the early Eastern Han dynasty. Although the Buddhism once declined during the middle and late Tang and the Five Dynasties, Buddhism was revived in the Song Dynasty. Therefore, many pagodas were still built. Since the pagodas were from India, most of the tall pagodas are common in the suburbs to avoid comparison with the Drum Towers and the Gate Towers in the Emperor City.
The Anji Bridge, which was completed in the Sixth Year of the Sui Dynasty (610 years), is also known as the Zhaozhou Bridge and the Dashi Bridge. The bridge is a segmental arch bridge that inspired the later bridge projects, such as the Yongtong Bridge built in the Song.
Since the Tang Dynasty, Confucius Temples had been set up in various schools. During the Song Dynasty, the palaces for worship sprung up. In addition, if the emperor's seal was banned, the college would build the Imperial Book Cabnet. For example, the Imperial Book Cabnet of Pinging School, formerly known as the Six Sutra Court, was a two-storey tower building adjacent to Chishui. It was later destroyed and rebuilt as a three-storey Imperial Book Cabnet.
The individual buildings and group images in the Song Dynasty gardens are ever-changing and can be seen from the existing Song paintings. In Wang Ximeng’s Landscape, various shapes of layout were clearly presented, relying on the mountains and facing the water, the rock crossing the cave as the basic mode.
Architecture in the Yuan Dynasty
In the Yuan Dynasty, white glazed tiles were used as a feature of the times.
Architecture in the Ming and Qing Dynasties
In terms of architecture, the Ming and Qing Dynasties reached the last peak of traditional Chinese architecture, presenting a concise form and sophisticated details.
Due to the reduction in the proportion of the brackets and the depth of the outfall, the side legs and the entasis were no longer used in the official buildings. The proportion of the beams becoming heavy and the soft lines of the roof disappear, they presented a restrained but stable and rigorous style forming a refined architectural style and a symbolic enhancement. It also greatly reduced the use of wood, achieving a sense of larger space with less material. In the Ming and Qing buildings, masonry were adopted which promoted the development of masonry structures. In the meantime, the hall without beams, which could be commonly seen in China, was a concrete manifestation of this progress. In short, the art of architecture during the Ming and Qing Dynasties did not go downhill, but seemed to be a sunset that was about to disappear on the horizon. It was still radiant.