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Jiayuguan Great wall
  • Timber frame
    Sliding dovetail, lap dovetail and stepped bevel splice joints of tie beams and cross beams from the Yingzao Fashi, published in 1103 by the Song Dynasty Chinese scholar-bureaucrat Li Jie (1065-1110).A fundamental achievement of Chinese wooden architecture is the load-bearing timber frame, a network of interlocking wooden supports forming the skeleton of the building. This is considered China's major contribution to worldwide architectural technology. However, it is not known how the builders got the huge wooden support columns into position.

    Unlike western architecture, in ancient Chinese wooden architecture, the wall only defined an enclosure, and did not form a load-bearing element. Buildings in China have been supported by wooden frames for as long as seven millennia. The emergence of the characteristic articulated wooden Chinese frame emerged during the Neolithic period. Seven thousand years ago mortise and tenon joinery was used to build wood-framed houses. (The oldest are at Hemudu site at Zhejiang). Over a thousand of these sites have been identified, usually with circular, square or oblong shaped buildings. During the Yangshao culture in the Middle Neolithic, circular and rectangular semisubterranean structures are found with wooden beams and columns. Wooden beams or earth supported the roofs which were most likely thatched.[3]

    As the villages and towns grew they adhered to symmetrical shapes. Symmetry was also important in the layout of homes, altars, and villages. In traditional Chinese architecture, every facet of a building was decorated using various materials and techniques. Simple ceiling ornamentations in ordinary buildings were made of wooden strips and covered with paper. More decorative was the lattice ceiling, constructed of woven wooden strips or sorghum stems fastened to the beams