Pillars of Heaven: The Symbolic Function of Column and Bracket Sets in the Han Dynasty

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Wooden columns surmounted by bracket sets are a key element of the great buildings of Imperial China and have received a tremendous amount of attention from scholars and architectural professionals. This article revisits the question of their symbolic function during the Han dynasty (206 bce-ce 220). In addition to their structural role, column and bracket sets fulfilled important social and cultural needs related to the representation of celestial and spiritual qualities. Understood variously as pillars of heaven, gates of heaven, the constellations, Kunlun Mountain and celestial plants, column and bracket sets engendered a rich iconography that served to bond architecture closely to the heavens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
JournalArchitectural History
Volume63
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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