and Classical Architecture of Taiwan
Ho, born in 1931, was searching for the true meaning
of and experimented with the contemporary art in 1950s.
One day, a foreign photographer taking pictures of what
Boonky thought was trifle old houses awakened him to
the beauty and culture of Taiwan's classical architecture.
This incident turned Boonky around and made him realize
that to become a great artist, he must search within
his own roots and heritages. He started to look for
his subject-matter from his surroundings, especially
Taiwan's classical architecture. For the past fifty
years, he has been tirelessly creating paintings with
unique Taiwanese characters. He believes that in order
to be recognized and respected internationally as a
country, Taiwan must preserves and exalt her own traditional
arts and cultures in addition to economic strength and
political consciousness. In his works, he often expresses
despairs and hopes of Taiwanese people during the white
terror period. Bamboo hats and single bird standing
symbolize independent country, water buffalos symbolize
the strong work ethics of Taiwanese people.
speaking, four kinds of construction materials were
used in the old days, namely bricks, muds, bamboos,
constructed with bricks usually belong to government
officials, wealthy families, or landlords, reflecting
their social status.
and rice-stalks are thoroughly mixed by buffalo
stamping over and mold into blocks size of a few bricks.
Sometimes starch is added to increase the solidity and
are used to form the supporting skeletal structure of
walls and then coated over with muds mixed with rice-stalk.
This type of houses are usually for farmers.
are usually used near seaside, and Pescadores island
to better withstand wind.
the four types mentioned above, houses made with muds,
bamboos, and stones are for ordinary populations. Only
brick houses are for people with means, usually one
or two landlords in one area or village, and have elaborate
structures and designs.
the following, brick houses are elaborated further.
First dragon rising (Main body):
linear structure with three rooms is the basis of the
house. The center room is the living room with space
for ancestor worship decoration. Room at the left is
the living quarter for the most senior person and the
right is for the second most senior person. If necessary,
additional one room each can be added to the left and
right of the main body to form a total of five rooms.
The last room is the kitchen. If new family members
are added, additional one room each is added to the
left and right side of the structure, to form a total
of seven rooms, and are called "extending hand".
additional rooms are needed due to the arrival of new
family members, a three room structure would be constructed
to the left side of and perpendicular to the Main Body.
It is called guarding dragon meaning to protect the
main body. Another guarding dragon can be added to the
right side of the main body. These spaces may be used
as library, office, or for storage.
five-room Main Body together with two perpendicular
Guarding Dragons constitute the three-sided Courtyard
with opening in the front.
the opening side of the three-sided Courtyard is enclosed
with a fence and a gate in the center, Four-sided Courtyard
is formed. Windows on the fence may be used to place
guns for defence.
E. Double Guarding Dragons:
additional structures may be built outside of each Guarding
Dragons. These are called Double Guarding Dragons. When
Double Guarding Dragons are built, the Main Body must
be extended with additional two rooms on each side.
Thus the Main Body will have eleven rooms altogether.
A High gate can be large as in the City Gate at the
entrance of a city, or smaller gate for Three-sided
Courtyards or Four-sided Courtyards. Sometimes a double
guarding dragon is connected to the guarding dragon
with a high gate.
an agricultural society, family members stay together
to provide needed labors. Therefore, demand for additional
living spaces never ends. In order to meet the demand,
a second and/or a third Main Body structures may be
constructed behind the first Main Body. The first Main
Body is called the Front Drop or First Drop,
the second and third Main Bodies are called the Middle
or Second Drop and the Back or the Third Drop,
respectively. The Four-sided Courtyard with three Drops
thus possesses a total of sixty nine rooms.
of Taiwan's Classical Architecture
beauty and uniqueness of Taiwan's classical architecture
are concretely expresses in the designs of swayback
roofs, doorways and windows. Their designs reflect wisdom,
aesthetic understanding, and love for future generations
of the forefathers.
Swayback roofs: There are eight types of swayback
roofs which represent five elements to enrich and balance
Single-flat: represents earth;
Double-flat: represents earth;
Single-arc: represents wood;
D. Triple-arc: represents water;
Acute-angle: represents fire;
Multi-angle: represent fire;
Multi-lateral: represent wood;
Decorations of swayback roofs and their
meanings: Symbolic designs are used for different purposes:
A. Ward off evil influences: designs of lion faces,
tiger faces , mirrors, and swords, etc. are used;
Prayer: about four hundred years ago, ancestors
of Taiwanese people risk their lives by crossing billowy
Taiwan Strait and immigrated to Taiwan to seek better
life for themselves and for future generations. The
spirits of their love for descendants are expressed
exquisitely in concrete forms. Bat designs symbolize
happiness; old coins, wealth; and
Education: Taiwanese ancestors hope their descendants
to excel both in letters and swords. Scrolls
and books symbolize scholars; swords,
Social status and virtue of the family: Virtuous
landlords or families usually receive gifts of flower-garland
containing foods and flowers from their tenants during
Lunar New Year celebrations. Even refused, tenants still
leave gifts under eaves. These gift items are incorporated
forever in the roof decorations to show the virtue of
the occupants. Designs used in this respect include
eight immortals, flower-garlands and phoenixes (birds).
Decorations of the friezes of the doorways and
Above the doorway: Often Chinese characters are decorated
indicating ancestral origin of locality on the mainland
and family names, or sometimes pictures or characters
are decorated for symbolic purposes.For
indicates Hsu family from Kao-yang district;
indicates Chiou family from Ho-nang district;
indicates Ho family from Lu-chiang;
indicates Chung family from In-chuan;
indicates Wu family from Fen-yang;
picture of lion head is to ward off evil;
is a prayer for prosperities;
indicates the residence of a government official;
indicates military official;
or Wu-fu-lin-men written on red papers are decorated
during lunar new year.
Sides of the doorway:
On each side of the doorway, a pair of rectangular red
papers with auspicious poem/phrases written on them
are decorated for lunar new year's celebration. The
phrases usually are prayer for the family's prosperities
or some new year's resolutions.
of the eight trigram are often decorated on or
around the doors or as door knobs. The idea is to ward
off evils. Sometimes characters such as "Chia-kuan"
and "Chin-lu" are painted on red background on
the left and right piece of the door. Also painted are
pictures of Door God holding a crown and a jade belt
one on each door. These are prayers for the prosperities
of the future generations. The phrases "shi-li-chuan-chia"
on the doors denote family teachings; while the phrases
such as "Li-men", "yi-lu"on temple doors indicate
Decorations of the windows and their meanings:
are three types of windows:
Brick windows: Bricks are constructed to express
Chinese character or vegetation designs.
most common character designs are:
prayer for entire family's health, peace,
happiness", to celebrate newly wed; and vegetation
pine tree, prayer of longevity;
plum blossom, symbolize nobleness and happiness;
(lu) symbolize prosperity, and bats
(fu), happiness, by virtue of their identical
Green-glazed tile windows:
color does not fade, therefore symbolizes longevity
and prosperity (chang-lu, chang shou).
Muds and lime window:
are made into bamboo shape to symbolize virtue
and high moral character (kao-chieh, high node).
4. Swallow-tail shaped roofs designs and their
ends of roof top spine are extended upward to form swallow-tail
designs (plates 46, 47, 50, 51, 52, 53). This type of
roofs is for temples and government buildings only.
Merchants, farmers, and ordinary people are prohibited
to use this type of roofs.
used for Swallow-tail shaped roofs are similar to that
of the Sway-back roofs. Usually dragons, phoenixes,
elephants, fishes, deers, tigers, small birds, flowers,
and Saints etc. are used to symbolize prayers for the
happiness, longevity, and prosperity.