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|The structural type: dian tang vs. ting
The Yingzao fashi describes two types of halls: dian tang
(upper illustration) and ting tang
(lower illustration). These differ primarily in their structure, but have
formal/spatial and hierarchical distinctions as well.
- In structural terms, the dian tang (sometimes translated
as 'high-ranking hall') can be conceived of as two layers separated by
- the roof structure above, and
- the frame structure below, composed of columns of equal height and
This means that the interior columns can be located independently of
the roof structure above. The ting tang ('lower-ranking hall'),
on the other hand, consists of repeated transversal frames (liangjia)
which integrate columns and roof structure; the columns may be of different
heights and extend into the roof structure up to the cross beams.
This distinction pertains only to the main part of a building. The dian
tang in the upper illustration has columns of different sizes, but
the shorter ones belong to the porches, or fujie, and so are not
relevant to the distinction.
- In formal / spatial terms, the most important distinction is
the ceiling: the dian tang has one, while the ting tang does
not. Put in another way, the dian tang conceals the roof structure,
while the ting tang leaves it exposed to the interior.
- In hierarchical terms, the dian tang is used for higher
ranks of building than the ting tang. As noted above, our sample
building is a ting tang. (Actually, for such a simple building,
there is no structural difference: if there were a ceiling, the structure
would still be the same. The building has no interior columns, so the question
of their relation with the roof structure is moot.)
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