Visual Source Paper
VISUAL SOURCE PAPER 5
PictureSelected: TheGreat Hall of Nanchansi at Mt Wutai
Book:TheCambridge Illustrated History of China.
TheGreat Hall of Nanchansi at Mt Wutai
Builtin the year 782 BC, the GreatHall of Nanchansiis one of the oldest buildings in the history of china (Ebrey,2010).In particular, the GreatHall of Nanchansiis regarded as the oldest surviving Chinese extant timber-framebuilding. The painting referenced above is that of the greathall of Nanchansi(Ebrey,2010).Thehall is located at mount Wutai, near the town of Doucun in theChinese Shanxi Province. The Nanchan temple hall was establishedduring one of the historic dynasties in the Chinese history, the TangDynasty. The hall is also referred to as the Great Budha Hall ofNamchan Temple.
Thetemple was made by the ancient Chinese Buddhists whose mission was toestablish a common place for worshiping their gods. The hall is madeof timber built as a three bay square hall. Twelve pillars aredirectly planted into a foundation of brick to support the roof(Ebrey,2010).Thesestructural features reflect the low-status that the hall was regardedwith at the time of construction. This is because the message sent bythe temple was that of Buddhist worship center and not political orsocial status building.
Theartifact has taken few different meanings over its existence inhistory. The building was built as a temple in the times of the TangDynasty. However, it changed to be a harbor for sculptures that havefound a resting place in the temple(Ebrey,2010).Inthe current times, the temple hall is famous for the sculptures morethan for itself. In addition to the historical context of itsbuilding, the hall has an interesting historical fact of survival.The building escaped the Buddhist purges and was not destroyed sincethe historical times. Up to the time of its discovery in the 1950s,the building was almost intact and had just a few square columnsreplaced.
Moreover,the temple became an architectural site and attracted severalelements of building design. The temple itself has a uniquearchitectural style that defines it existence. This is the definingelement of the ancient Chinese buildings which still exists in thecurrent times. This site is not just a temple or a religiousarchitectural site, the temple hall is a home for original Tangsculptures(Ebrey,2010).Thesculptures are artistically important as they date to the time of theconstruction of the temple hall. Inside the interior spaces of thehall lies seventeen sculptures established together with a stonepagoda.
Thebuilding conveys interesting information about the architecturalpotential of the ancient Chinese. Built during the most ancientdynasties in China and probably in the world, the sight of theartifact sparks an imaginative look of the lifestyle of the ancientChinese(Ebrey,2010).Inaddition, the artifact communicates the information of the religiousinclinations of the ancient Chinese. As a Buddhist temple, the templeillustrates religious diversities of the ancient Chinese.
Theimage of the temple tells of the architectural brilliance that thebuilders at the time of the Tang Dynasty possessed. They had cleardesigns and value for the purpose with which they were building theirstructures. The image shows how the artifact relates with other suchbuildings built at the time of the Tang industry. The temple hallalso illustrates how Buddhism was significant in transforming theimagination of how china looked like during the Tang times(Ebrey,2010).
Ebrey,P. B. (2010). The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge:Cambridge
Ebrey,P. B. (2010). TheCambridge Illustrated History of China.Retrievedfrom Google Books,
<http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=vr81YoYK0c4C&pg=PA108&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q=tea&f=false>April 18, 2014