1st Edition

Architecture, Ritual and Cosmology in China The Buildings of the Order of the Dong

By Xuemei Li Copyright 2023
    284 Pages 138 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Drawing on the author’s extensive fieldwork in the Dong areas in southwest China, this book presents a detailed picture of the Dong’s buildings and techniques, with new insights into the Dong’s cosmology and rituals of everyday life meshed with the architecture, and the symbolic meanings. It examines how the buildings and techniques of the Dong are ordered and influenced by the local culture and context.

    The timber bridges and drum towers are the Dong’s most prominent architectural monuments. Usually built elaborately with multiple roofs, these bridges and drum towers were designed and maintained by the local carpenters who also built the village suspended houses, in an oral tradition carried down from father to son or to apprentice. They were funded entirely by the local people, and the bridges tend to be built in places without great pressure of traffic or another bridge already existing close by. Why does such great expense go into the Dong’s buildings with elaboration? How were they built? And what do they mean to their users and builders?

    This book is an anthropological study on the Dong’s architecture and technique, and it aims to contribute a discourse on the interdisciplinary research area. It is suitable for graduate and postgraduate readers.

    Preface Acknowledgement 1.The Geography of the Dong 2.The Cosmology of Separation and Reunion of the Dong 3.The Drum Tower as the Cosmological Centre of Separation and Reunion 4.Wind and Water (fengshui 风水) in Shaping the Dong Villages 5.The Traditional Building Techniques of the Dong 6.The Rituals which Accompany the Construction of Dong House 7.Conclusion: Symbolic Meaning, Ritual and Architectural Order Bibliography Index



    Xuemei Li holds a PhD in Architectural History and History from the Architectural School at Sheffield University. Her research on the vernacular architecture and traditional techniques of the Dong community has been published in the Journal of Landscape Research, the Journal of Architecture, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians and the Journal of Architectural Research Quarterly. She has taught Architectural History and Theory, and Architectural Structure courses in the universities of America, Canada and China. She was Visiting Scholar in Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, at Columbia University, and Associate Professor in He Xiangning College of Art and Design at Zhongkai Agricultural University.