Yuanfang Liu

Yuanfang Liu
1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
To be held virtually via Zoom
Moyun Zhou
PhD Candidate,
Department of Architecture,
The University of Hong Kong
Chinese Buddhist Temple & Local Gentry: Spatial Transformation from Song-Jin and Ming-Qing
Yuanfang Liu
PhD Candidate,
Department of Architecture,
The University of Hong Kong

Please find Zoom meeting details as follows:

Meeting ID: 934 6561 6016
Password: 610258


The research looks into the construction of Buddhist temples in medieval and late imperial Southeast Shanxi, investigating the structural-spatial transformation of their three-by-three-bay central Buddha halls under the changing role of local gentry patronage. The presentation first provides an examination on structures built during the Song-Jin period, identifying four structural typologies used to frame their architectural space. These halls, albeit slightly different in structural frames, have a similar outlook of a hip-and-gable roof with fully enclosed outer walls, gives these temples a distinctive appearance away from that of folk religions. The consistency can be understood as the result of a long and influential tradition maintained by the monastic community, traced back as early as in the eighth-century Nanchansi main hall. On the other side, the local gentry only played a limited role in the construction of Buddha hall in determining the architectural spatial form, even though these projects were commissioned under their patronage.

The second half of the presentation concentrates on structural-spatial developments in the Ming-Qing Buddha halls, discussing how these different characteristics reflect the rising role of local gentries that tended to envision an entirely different ideal for Buddhist space. This period saw the decline of Nanchansi prototype with the emergence of non-Buddhist spatial elements, such as the open portico used in temples of folk religions. This could be considered as the syncretic and eclectic take of the local gentry in the plural religious environment of Ming-Qing. The shift of the focus of lay patronage from the central Buddha hall towards auxiliary structures such as gate towers and pagodas with stunning visual effects, reshaping Buddhist temple space in Ming-Qing Southeast Shanxi, turning into flamboyant showcases where the local gentry displayed their status.

Speaker Bio

Yuanfang Liu is a PhD candidate from the Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong. She holds a BA in Architecture from Tsinghua University, China.

Her research interest is Chinese architecture history and theory. And currently, her work focuses on the spatial transformation of Chinese Buddhist temples in northern China from Tang-Song to Ming-Qing, and the corresponding structural and cultural factors.

Discussant Bio

Moyun Zhou is a PhD candidate whose research interests lie in Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture in the world from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, with a specific focus on the mid-sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries ecclesiastical architecture in East Asia.