The Architecture of the Three Teachings

In: Modern Chinese Religion I (2 vols.)


During the 10th–13th centuries, architecture associated with the worship of Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist divinities increasingly conformed to both palatial complexes and temples to the spirits of antiquity, thus facilitating the development of the three teachings as a category of official Chinese religion. This essay investigates the symbolic potential of the courtyard complex and palatial-style buildings: 1) The ways in which the tradition of Zhou dynasty ritual architecture was invoked to create symbolically potent monuments; 2) How regional variation in timber-frame buildings could be appropriated for particular symbolic effect regardless of sectarian affiliation; 3) Examples of how Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian complexes customized indigenous Chinese building traditions for their own purposes.