Nancy Steinhardt - Professor of East Asian Art and Curator of Chinese Art at the University of Pennsylvania
There is a remarkably comprehensive history of Chinese architecture from the period 1267 when Khubilai broke ground for his capital Dadu to the year 1368 when the Ming dynasty was established. This standard history of Yuan construction is written through archeological remains of Dadu and Shangdu, eminent halls at the Temple to the Northern Peak and Daoist Monastery Yonglegong, buildings from Guangsheng Monastery, small temples in Zhejiang and Henan and Shanxi provinces, and Ciyun Pavilion. The buildings exhibit details described in contemporary records, confirm that the ranked system of Chinese architecture was employed across China under Mongolian rule, and further, that one can isolate features that distinguish Yuan buildings from earlier and later ones in China. The history also includes popular and vernacular structures from stages to houses. Yet there is an expanded history of construction in China under Mongolian rule. This more recent history, the focus of this talk, includes buildings outside the main tradition: mosques, the pagoda in Miaoying Monastery, and the observatory in Dengfeng that have long been known and others that are less known in Hebei and Inner Mongolia, particularly those of the first and second decades of the second decade of the fourteenth century, including tombs, cave-temples, detached palaces, and a ritual altar. The lecture suggests alternate interpretations of each building of this last group, and thereby raises question about what defines both Yuan architecture and Chinese architecture.