Comparative analysis of Buddhian and Daoi temple architecture of ancient China




temple architecture, China, Taoism, Dao, Buddhism, synthesis of the arts, middle ages, symbol, sculpture, landscape, design, layout


The article is devoted to the peculiarities of the architecture of Buddhist and Taoist temple complexes of ancient China. The work is aimed at identifying the religious and geographical features of the distribution and location of temple complexes, comparing the principles and methods of organizing the temple space. Questions are raised of constructive comparison of regional features of sculptural and monumental-decorative decoration of Buddhist and Taoist architectural structures in terms of their similarities and differences.
The purpose of this article is to establish and compare the criteria for the distribution and location of complexes, the principles of organizing architectural and landscape compositions, types of structures, features of the sculptural and decorative decoration of Buddhist and Taoist temple complexes.
To solve the theoretical issues of building medieval Chinese temples, the following methods were used: the empirical method, the method of comparative analysis, the scientometric method (analysis of the historical experience of designing and building the object under study according to literary sources).
The main differences of opposing cultures (philosophy, symbols, concepts of life and death), due to which the architectural space of Buddhist and Taoist temple complexes was formed, were revealed, these include: planning, territorial location, the use of works of fine art (sculptures and paintings), a feature of the and outer temple structure.
This article proposed a structural table of the direct influence of two cultures of ancient China on certain criteria for architectural planning, which are identified with the philosophy and geographical location of the temples.
The modern vision of the problem of perception of ancient Chinese temple architecture, which has a globalization impact on the temple architecture of Europe, is assessed, which in turn requires the formation of a new comparative analysis on the subject of kinship and differences from the Gothic planning structure.
During the study, a number of differences in philosophical and cultural concepts were noted, which leads to polar differences in the nature of the design of temple complexes. All identified criteria were systematized.

Author Biography

Wu Changzhi, O.M. Beketov National University of Urban Economy in Kharkiv



Chen, Xiaolu. (2021). On the Origin and Development of Three-back-shared Buddhist Temple in western Region. Available online:

Lin, Wei-Cheng. (2014). Building Sacred Mountain: The Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai. Washington: University of Washington Press.

Liu, Jie, and Changdong Chen. (2016). Bucolic Fu’an. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, pp. 20, 243, 293–318.

Liu, Jie, and Gang Hu. (2011). Bucolic Qingyuan. Hangzhou: Zhejiang Ancient Books Publishing House, pp. 296–318.

Liu, Jie, and Weiping Shen. (2005). Lounge Bridges in Taishun. Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, pp. 6–20.

Liu, Jie. (2017). The Architectural Artistry of China’s Timber Arch Covered Bridges. Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, pp. 262–66.

Liu Shufen. (1994). “Bei Qi Biaoyixiang Yicihui shizhu—zhonggu Fojiao shehui jiuji de ge’an yanjiu” (The Northern Qi Yicihui stone pillar of Biaoyixiang—A case study of a medieval Buddhist relief society). Xinshixue (New history) 4, no. 5 (1994):1–47.

Luo, Shiping. (2012). Xianren hao louju: Xiangyang xin chutu xianglun taolou yu Zhongguo futuci leizheng [Immortals favor tower dwelling: A comparative study on the newly unearthed ceramic building model with chattras from Xiangyang and the futuci of China]. Gugong Bowuyuan Yuankan [Palace Museum Journal] 4: 10–26.

Ma, Xueqiang. (2016). Eight Hundred Miles of Oujiang. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

Miller, Tracy. (2015). Of Palaces and Pagodas: Palatial Symbolism in the Buddhist Architecture of Early Medieval China. Frontiers of History in China 2: 222–63.

Osada, Tokiwa, and Sekino Tadashi. (1939). The Historical Sites of Chinese Culture. Kyoto: nihonnoshingaku, vol. 4, p. VI-69-120.

Salguero, C. Pierce. (2014). Translating Buddhist Medicine in Medieval China. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Shi, Jie. (2014). Incorporating All For One: The First Emperor’s Tomb Mound. Early China 37: 359–91.

Steinhardt, Nancy S. (1998). Early Buddhist Architecture and Its Indian Origins. In Flowering of a Foreign Faith. Edited by Janet Baker. New Delhi: New Delhi Publishers, pp. 38–53.

Steinhardt, Nancy S. (2019). Chinese Architecture: A History. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Wang, Rongguo. (1997). The History of Buddhism in Fujian. Xiamen: Xiamen University Press, p. 4.

Wong, Dorothy. (2008) “The Mapping of Sacred Space: Images of Buddhist Cosmographies in Medieval China.” In The Journey of Maps and Images on the Silk Road, edited by Philippe Forêt and Andreas Kaplony, 51–79. Leiden and Boston: Brill.

Yang Hsüan-chih. (1984).A Record of Buddhist Monasteries in Lo-yang. Translated by Yi-t’ung Wang. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Yang Xuanzhi. (2006).Luoyang qielanji jiaojian (A Record of Buddhist Monasteries in Luoyang, with annotation). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

Yu, Shuishan. (2015). Ito Chuta and the Narrative Structure of Chinese Architectural History. JA (Journal of Architecture) 20: 1–35.

Yu, Shuishan. (2015). The Formation of the Basic Narrative Structure of Chinese Architectural History as Reflected in Ito Chuta’s Scholarship. Zhongguo jianzhu shilun huikan (The Journal of Chinese Architecture History) 11: 3–30.

Xu Yongli, and Li Jing. (2007).“Cong Beiwei huangshi fojiao huodong kan Songyuesi ta de xingzhi zhunbei” (Analysis of the form preparation for the Songyuesi pagoda from the view of royal religious activities in Northern Wei dynasty). Huazhong jianzhu (Huazhong architecture) 25, no. 11: 101–3.

Zhang Gong. (1997). Han-Tang Fosi wenhua shi (shang) (A history of Buddhist temple culture from Han-Tang, vol. 1). Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe.

Zhang, Shiqing. (2009). The Architecture of Chen Taiwei Palace in Luoyuan, Fujian. Cultural Relics 1: 67–75.

Zhang, Shiqing. (2002). Buddhist Temples of Jiangnan in China. Wuhan: Hubei Education Press, pp. 72–73.

Zhang, Shiqing. (2012). The Main Hall of Baoguo Temple in Ningbo: Survey Analysis and Basic Research. Nanjing: Southeast University Press, pp. 188, 204.

Zhong Xiaoqing. (1998) “Bei Wei Luoyang Yongningsi ta fuyuan tantao” (On the reconstruction of the Yongningsi pagoda in Northern Wei’s Luoyang). Wenwu (Culture relics), no. 5: 51–64.

Zhongguo Xuo. (2015). Shehui kexueyuan kaogu yanjiusuo, ed. Bei Wei Luoyang Yongningsi, nian kaogu fajue baogao (Yongningsi in Northern Wei Luoyang: An excavation report on the archaeology of the years). Beijing: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.





Architecture and construction