cover image Chinese Architecture

Chinese Architecture

Rizzoli, Laurence Liu. Rizzoli International Publications, $75 (297pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1082-6

From cave temples bedecked with intricate carvings and giant Buddhas, to Han wood-frame houses whose courtyard centers embody Confucian ethical principles, this magnificent volume gauges the breadth and depth of Chinese architecture over the past 2000 years. Liu, a Chinese professor of architecture, took the remarkable color photographs that accompany his absorbing text. He spotlights tracery windows, polychrome statues, pagodas, private and imperial gardens, Taoist frescoes, glittering Islamic mosques--a proliferation of forms and structures often overlooked by other scholars. Classical Chinese architecture has its own unit of spatial organization (the jian ) and its own symbolic vocabulary that expresses the harmony of humans with nature and the cosmos. Liu lucidly deciphers this vocabulary, whether he is discussing city planning, a Beijing gateway or the Potala Palace in Tibet. (Nov.)