Chinese Architecture: Art and Artifacts

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The Dougong

One particular feature in this structural frame deserves special attention. It is the dougong, employed generally in buildings of a monumental character. In order to counteract the shearing stress at the joints of vertical and horizontal members, particularly at the points where the beams is supported by the post, the architect of perhaps more than two thousand years ago invented the method of putting trapezoidal blocks and bow-shaped “arms” in tiers as corbels, and thus created a transitory element known as dougong. The term means simply block (dou) and “arm” (gong). The tiers of “arms,” when extending into the interior of the building, receive the ends of the principal beams, while the other half of the “arms,” extending outward, receive the overhanging eaves of the roof. The dougong was originally conceived as a structural element, but its decorative potentiality was soon discovered and exploited to the utmost degree.

Chinese Architecture: Art and Artifacts

By the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press

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