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Old August 28th, 2006, 10:20 PM   #21
Slartibartfas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YelloPerilo
I understand you too well, but many Chinese won't share your opion, which is sad. This IMO has a lot to do with the historical development of China of the last 150 years. European imperialism, China's cultural decline, civil wars, desastrous socio-economical policies at the infant stage of the PRC and the destruction of much Chinese tradition and absence of any kind of cultural education, which was substituted by a materialist doctrine gave a great part of the Chinese society a seriously low self esteem facing a seemingly far wealthier "Western" society.

Many Chinese seem to be nationalistic when talking about China, but in their every day life they would not mind to destroy what the Cultural Revolution has left and replace it with tacky "Western" imitates (go to any Chinese cities and see all the bloody fake Baroque mansions) and at the same time making silly excuses why old houses cannot be modernised.

There is much radicalism in their thinking: If it's old than it either has to be put/turned into a museum or it has to make space for new "development". The problem lies not in making space for development, but the lack of of refined taste and culture, which lead to monstrosities like the afore mentioned Baroque mansions, a style they have no connections with and 99.9% of Chinese know shit about. A amalgamation of heritage with modernity is not an option for many.

On the surface many Chinese seem to be proud of their cultural heritage, but deep inside not a few of them are insecure and full of blind w(h)oreship of anything that is attached with a "Western" sticker.

"Baroque mansions" in China? What do I have to imagine when thinking of it? Does anyone have a picture to show an example? Its weird to imaginate baroque architecture in China somehow. Well, we have a whole inner city full of baroque buildings, but after all I dont life in China either....
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Old August 30th, 2006, 07:09 AM   #22
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Old August 30th, 2006, 07:25 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slartibartfas
"Baroque mansions" in China? What do I have to imagine when thinking of it? Does anyone have a picture to show an example? Its weird to imaginate baroque architecture in China somehow. Well, we have a whole inner city full of baroque buildings, but after all I dont life in China either....
Not really Baroque but a completely European feel nonetheless:

I think the fad will eventually pass. Just a temporary nouveau riche obsession...

BTW in Wuxi there are several sort-of complete reconstructed cities (one 3 Kingdoms era, one Tang dynasty and one Song Dynasty) that they built for filming elaborate period TV shows. These double as theme parks when not in use.
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Old August 30th, 2006, 08:40 AM   #24
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Old August 30th, 2006, 09:42 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slartibartfas
I mean the Chinese empire has such a giant history, and a country of that size must have had impressing huge cities with large architecture of grandeur in whole city quarters and centers. What happened to them? Have they become victims of the communist modernisation and industrialisation, or victims of the fast uprise duringthe last decades (ie making place for skyscrapers)? Or perhaps they have been destroyed in WWII? Or do they still exist in certain cases?
Hi,
We can not compare our European development, with the Chinese or Japanese one.

1. The urbanization in China was, until the middle of the past century, less than 10-20%, which means, that, except of a few big cities, almost all Chinese lived in wooden/clay villages.
2. Emperors of Chinese dynasties moved their capitals very often, more than 15 times, during Chinese history. It means, that new cities and towns were build up "around" new capitals, and, respectively, many other ones "disappeared" very quickly then.
3. Floods, earthquakes, fire and wars destroyed not only cities, but entire cultures, like the Liangzhu-Culture, with probably millions of people.
Another typical example was Kaifeng, Chinese capital during the Song dynasty, with a pupulation of about 700,000. In 1642, Kaifeng was flooded by the Ming army with water from Yellow River to prevent the peasant rebel Li Zicheng from taking over. After this disaster, the city was abandoned again.
Under the celebrated Qing emperor Kangxi (1662), Kaifeng was rebuilt. However, another flooding occurred in 1841, followed by another reconstruction in 1843, which produced the contemporary Kaifeng as we know it. That time Kaifeng's pupulation sunk under 20,000. (http://www.metmuseum.org)
The same happend to Xianyang / Chang-An / Xian.
Earthquakes: 1556 in Shaanxi - 830,000 victims. 1927 in Xining - 200,000. 1967 Tangshan - 240,000
All the disasters were the reason why Chinese never payed a big attention to their own homes, consequently, their wooden houses were build mostly for one's personal requirement, not even for the children. The quality was bad.
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Old August 30th, 2006, 07:33 PM   #26
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Interesting Anna Maria.

That in fact makes a difference. A large one. Its a rare incident in fact that cities especially large ones not to speak about capitals or former ones have been abandoned within the last thousand years in Europe. Even the ancient city of Rome allways had at least a few thousand inhabitants as far as I know. Allthough it took nearly 1500 years I guess until it had as many inhabitants as in the antics. Also Vienna is above 1000 years old, in case you count the Roman town Vindobona even far older. Its a town that never has been set in question as such. Two very severe besiegements of the muslim Osman empire could not change that.

The upper class in Europe also had the tendency to invest a signifcant part of their wealth into representable buildings. Was that different in China? Did they not care to built large breathtaking city palaces (not just the emperor, but everyone who could afford it).

Perhaps also the defensive character plays a signficant role? European cities from very early on were built quite dense due to the city walls that did not let too much place to build just low houses. While the often centralised China had first of all the resources to build large walls and not the need to build as compact.

Anyway, your point about the natural desasters that lead to abandonmnet of towns is not new to me but I did not knew it was such a frequent happening thing. Were also the provencial capitals subject of such frequen relocation?
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Old August 31st, 2006, 05:04 AM   #27
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Slartibartfas,

The mentality of Far-Eastern people was different than ours, and the value of one human being was never so meaningful as in Europe, in the past 2300 years, at least.

The reasons (resp. evidences) were:
1. huge natural disasters, quakes, typhoons, and, in China, floodings. We have to remember that Yangtze and Huanghe frequently changed their riverbeds. Only Huanghe was flooded about 1500 times, since first recordings, and changed its course 18 times, the last one in 1897. The river was also used as a "weapon" during Chinese wars, killing millions of people.
2. political systems. The human contemptible feudal system kept in China until the Mid of the last century (when the PLA entered Tibet). When in Europe the first democracy was established, human sacrifice was still practiced in China. Mao's Cultural Revolution came in the end.
3. China was an isolated country (Gobi, Taklamakan, Himalaya, Pacific, Great Wall), with very limited chances for exchanging ideas and life-styles.
4. many terrible wars.

But, if people mean nothing, their houses, buildings, and their cities are unimportant too.

Life expectations in China were very low, long-term thinking rare. Only the emperors had the right to build timeless palaces and tombs, so it is better to understand now, why they had been called "forbidden" - not only because the areas inside couldn't be entered by common people.
Everything outside palace walls was temporary, and longevity was meant only for the ruler and a few attributes of his heavently power.
Of course there was also Chinese "aristocracy", but with no continuity in its development. After a new Emperor was introduced, or, a new Dynasty was established, they often disappeared from the surface, their wooden palaces were destroyed and replaced by new ones.
In Europe, many towns and cities were build up arround churches or/and castels of our local rulers: bishops, dukes or princes. Rarely in China; feudal Lhasa.

Interesting also to know, that China never really forced its foreign trade. The slogan was: "We are the middle of the world. If other want something from us - it's their problem".
This is the reason why we have no traditional and historical big cities around Chinese ports (comparable to Antwerp, Hamburg, Lisbon, Marseille or Genoa) - Shanghai, Hongkong or Qingdao are new ports, Ningbo's importance was up and down.

China is changing, rights of Chinese people are changing, and, in the end, new Chinese cities are build over old ones. Unfortunately all the high scyscapers can't give them new, unique and individual features. Neither Chinese Venice, nor Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, Rome or Athens will be build there, but that's an another thing.
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Old August 31st, 2006, 05:19 AM   #28
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Anna, You are a really old China hand. Thank you for explanation and knowledge that I never knew about.
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Old August 31st, 2006, 09:15 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slartibartfas
The upper class in Europe also had the tendency to invest a signifcant part of their wealth into representable buildings. Was that different in China? Did they not care to built large breathtaking city palaces (not just the emperor, but everyone who could afford it).
We have to imagine, that Chinese Emperors lived under a big pressure and a continuing fear to be overthrown by their own generals, hence big competitive palaces - symbols of power - were not allowed at all. The generals were burried even without weapons and other martial attributes to avoid a possible coup in the hereafter.
Qing generals and some high-eunuchs, as example, lived, if not in Emperor's palace, in "normal" Siheyuans (Hutong's houses), and in Beijing we can still go and see a number of their houses.
Very funny, but a few days ago I saw a TV-report on the career of one of the richiest (US$ billionaire) man in China, who is still living in a standard apartment, 20th floor, or so. It seems to be an old Chinese tradition, though chinese nouveaux riches certainly prefere western-styled villas today.
There is also a misunderstanding in terms what a traditional Chinese palace really is - more a fragile pavilion, than a solid palace. If you should go to Beijing or to Shanghai, it's a good idea to enter the so called "Grand-View Gardens". You can find a lot of buildings there, including some palaces, and see how Chinese aristocracy lived more than 200 years ago.
The Gardens, buildings and rooms are replicas, but nevertheless, very interesting. They were build according to the desription of the Grand-View Garden in the classical novel "A Dream of Red Mansions" by Cao Xueqin (my favorite Chinese book).
GoogleEarth "Grand-View Garden" Beijing: 39°52'11.54"N 116°21'1.04"E
http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showthrea...626/page//vc/1

"Grand-View Garden" Shanghai:
http://www.bearspage.info/h/tra/ch/gra.html

In Beijing's Forbidden City, North-West corner, there are palaces of Qing-Emperors concubines, and also here you will wonder.

Last edited by Anna Maria; August 31st, 2006 at 06:25 PM.
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Old August 31st, 2006, 10:07 PM   #30
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Anna Maria are you chinese?
Anyway a thousand thanks for this terribly interesting things of Chinese history and mentality.

Its just so different from all pillars of European history. Perhaps that was the price China had to pay for its huge size and the large time of relatively united structures? Europe might be something special in that way. It was not unified since the downfall of the Roman Empire, many dutchies, a long lasting feudal system were actually the monarchs did not have that much to say. The following small kingdoms (small in comparission to China) were easier to controll while allowing a wealthy aristocracy to survive. And in fact even if dynasties changed the aristocracy stayed pretty much the same. That was just supported by the fact that from medieval times each town on its own was a mighty entity that had strong means of defense it could if endangered in existance even turn against the own king. But despite this seperation, the Roman instituation the christian church survived and had a strong unifomrative force that held Europe together at least during the medieval times until a strong cultural interconnection has arisen out of the ashes of the Völkerwanderung.

This East-Asian mindset, or is it just Chinese? Is just so different. What was the sense of such a huge unified empire if no one profitated fromt he high amount of order except of a few hundred or some thousand people in whole? Or is it funny to ask for a sense where there were only facts?
PS:
Now I think about the Romans. They also had a vast empire. Nontheless they built a town for eternity. It seems allready they had a completely different mindset. Look at the antique Rome, with a million inhabitants. Full of representative squares and palaces, temples etc. And there were many wealthy people in this center of the empire. The emperors even built large public buildings just for the enjoyment of the normal people like the Kolloseum for example. Yes they exploited the empire for the hail of a single metropolis, but also the smaller towns of the Roman empire in the different provinces often tried to copy Rome in a smaller version.

Last edited by Slartibartfas; August 31st, 2006 at 10:15 PM.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 10:36 AM   #31
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To Slartibartfas

Sorry, but there will be nothing about Chinese architecture today :-(

First I would say, for us, European people it's easier to display all rainbow colors using only black and white paint, than to understand what China is. Nevertheless, we do it. We use or "black and white" symbols trying to paint Chinese "red", "yellow" and other ones, though there is no right communication method to realize it. Are we all fools? No. Also Chinese try to paint Western-like white and black pictures using their colorful palette.
Do you know what I mean?

There is a famous saying that someone who visits China for a week will go home and write a book about it, someone who spends a month there will write no more than an article, and someone who remains for a year or more will be unable to write anything (mentioned for example also in Haw's "A Traveler's history of CHINA").

Hmmmm, I'm not a Chinese. I had interesting jobs and lived as well in Chinese villages as in many monster Chinese and Taiwanese cities for more than three years. But what could I clearly say about this mysterious country, after my 36 Beijing flights since mid eighties, today? Not really very much, keeping to the saying ;-)

Maybe this ...

If we want to try to understand this country we MUST begin our journey in Beijing's Forbidden City. We have no other alternative choice, not only because other ancient Forbidden Cities are not there more or changed their appearences too much, Xian - as example, where only the walls remained.

The Chinese word Zhong of ZhongHua, Central Kingdom, Reich der Mitte, China, means "middle", "centre", "neutral", and could be explained as: "right into the centre of a square target by shooting an arrow" (left character of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Zhongwen.svg).
If you would take a look at Beijing's Forbidden City from the space (GoogleEarth: 39°55'0.84"N 116°23'30.73"E), you would recognize as well Forbidden City's walls = square, as the North/South arrow/axle = from Jingshan Park in north, to Tiananmen Gate (since ~1900 also Square) in south. The imaginary point where the arrow pierces the shield is Emperors "Hall of Supreme Harmony" at the centre of the Forbidden City.
That's only a symbol, but what a one! God's beam from Heaven, through the Emperor, to the Chinese Earth!

Let's be honest about this: Chinese ancient rulers were arrogant, egoistic, selfish, and, except maybe of a few ones, greedy and cruel, including on the other side, also humanists and art lovers. But the worst case was - no one was a visionary ruler. Terrible and great, however.

Yu, a monarch of the first legendary Xia dynasty, living ~2065 BC, had a really great intention to bring the Huanghe river under control ("Who wants to rule over Chine must harness the Huanghe"), but as we know, about 1590 Huanghe floods since then speak an another language.

Was Han/Ming's Great Wall a vision at least? Not at all. The largest object ever build by humans, also called the longest cemetery on Earth due to hundred thousands dead workers there, was never an effective obstacle for the northern people when they moved to China, instead, it was a right symbol for China's isolation in the past. And the modern projects like Tibet-Rail, Three Gorges Dam, Chinese Skyscraper's forest, are great, but not especially unique, using also western technologies.

An interesting example of Chinese failed visionarism was Ming's admiral Zheng He - the first and greatest "PR manager" in people's history at all. Difficult to imagine today, as they had a huge fleet of 317 ships (some up to 200m long), loaded with thousands of Chinese products, handicraft souvenirs at all, 30000 people travelling the southern seas only to show the world how great and fantastic Chinese empire is. And this expedition, taken 1405, was only one of Zheng He's voyages.
Then, after all these Wows and Aaahs, the Emperor destroys the ships, forbids the international trade and beheads merchants and traders who don't keep the ban. Chinese behave even irrational, sometimes.

The Forbidden City is closed to hundred of millions ordinary people, and both are closed to the rest of the World.
Ok, you can try to isolate a girl in Austria or Japan, for 8 or 9 years which is in fact terrible. But we have to undertand that 8 years is nothing compared with thousands of years.

Was the empire's isolation perfect? No. There is an aspect we, when talking about China, usually don't take into our European consideration.

One day, me and my friend, we met some young people in a southern Taiwanese village. First I thought everything was ok, but later a Hakka man from the village said to me: "You are nice but I don't like your friend". "Oh, why? I asked", "You know", he replied, "is your friend a Manchu guy? He has a plait in his hair. I don't like Manchus at all".
I found this funny that time, but many years later in Beijing I learned a girl who said to me, that although she and her Manchu family are very well assimillated in central China, they are really very happy only in their village, during holidays, somewhere in northern China.

I know, that there are still some problems within China's multinational country, but these cases where much more interesting to me than I could expect.
Well, what I learned then?
In Chinese Dynasty's chain, beginning from the end of the 6th century till the bitter end, Chinese enjoyed six Dynasties (Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing/Manchu), and three of them (all from north; Sui, Yuan, Qing/Manchu) were founded by none Chinese nations, now assimilated, but that time considered as wicked foreign invadors.

Fine. Imagine, Danish come to Germany today. They defeat the German army, destroy German cities, kill German people (only my enemies, thanks, thanks), set their own government at the Spree, learn German language, call themselves Germans, and our dear German chancellor finds a suitable tree in a park - knowing what the last Ming Emperor did (she's finally well educated about Chinese history). Later the same procedure with the Austrian, and in the end with our Belgian friends. Interesting, or?

Back to China.
Sui, Yuan and Qing Emperors brought new people, new customs, new ideas and new cultural aspects to China, so that all these new influences could expand old stiff Han-Chinese systems.

Resume.
China is far away, China is absent, China is weird, China is poor, China is forgotten, China is uncommunicative, China uses Chinese characters, China speaks Chinese, China had bad manners, China has no gold, China overflows us, China had a culture revolution, China has a Wall, China had 1989, China is undemocratic, China is clever, China is red.

Is there any positive aspect of China's international isolation? Of course, a big one.
All these above are reasons why China and its culture could survive for 5000 years!
A gift for the history, a big luck for China today.

Last edited by Anna Maria; September 1st, 2006 at 10:45 AM.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 01:09 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna Maria
To Slartibartfas

Sorry, but there will be nothing about Chinese architecture today :-(

First I would say, for us, European people it's easier to display all rainbow colors using only black and white paint, than to understand what China is. Nevertheless, we do it. We use or "black and white" symbols trying to paint Chinese "red", "yellow" and other ones, though there is no right communication method to realize it. Are we all fools? No. Also Chinese try to paint Western-like white and black pictures using their colorful palette.
Do you know what I mean?

...

Resume.
China is far away, China is absent, China is weird, China is poor, China is forgotten, China is uncommunicative, China uses Chinese characters, China speaks Chinese, China had bad manners, China has no gold, China overflows us, China had a culture revolution, China has a Wall, China had 1989, China is undemocratic, China is clever, China is red.

Is there any positive aspect of China's international isolation? Of course, a big one.
All these above are reasons why China and its culture could survive for 5000 years!
A gift for the history, a big luck for China today.

Well, in that way I'll try to paint some colourfull scenes of China with my black and white pensils

China and Europe both have a uniting element of history: The mongoles.

The non European Hunns led toegether with the Germanic tribes to the downfall of West-Rome and even established an empire reaching far into central Europe.
Under Tshingis Khan the Mongoles entered the eastern borders of Europe and got up to the borders of the Ausrtrian mark back than belonging to the Frank empire, the sole strong somewhat large kingdom that could establish itself since the fell apart of West Rome. Nothing could stop them as they were militarely superior, not depedant on supply lines and fast moving. And the sole reason the military success did not continue was the death of Tshingis Khan which led to a pause which led to the end of the conquest.

Europe had its fair share of non European invasions too. But its consequences were of a completely different nature as the Mongoles never had an interest or the chance to overtake a strong central bureaucracy somehwere in Europe that could grant such a thing. While in China they had the will and the chance several times as it seems, if I am right.

Europes history was very volatile in the years before the first millenium. But than kingdoms could establish themselves. The early middle ages came to an end and the era of kingdoms started. And after some time also the principal of a capital city developed. Those in the beginning weak kingdoms fostered the building of castles and fortresses which led to a strong stabilisation of regions that stopped the total chaos due to constant migration pressure and invadors from before. But while the king might have been the officially highest person, hundreds of dukes had the real effective power on the ground and did the best to let their small piece of earth prosper in case it was a good one, or at least get the outmost out of it for his pleassure if a bad one.

The fact that Europe was in the hand of hundreds of dukes let to the rise of many cities with palaces fortresses etc. and a stable developement. But on the other side in times of great dangers, this totally fractured Europe had the possibility to work together to defend itself. That combined with the luck Europe had (eg with Tshingis Khan), it could defend itself against foreign invasions to the largest parts. Somehow the medieval Europe had some components of the Greek civilisation.

Later on one could see the arising of royal dynasties, Austria might be a very interesting case concerning that. It only had two dynasties with the first one lasting only 90 years but founding the dutchy that should become an empire long afterwards. And the second well known one, that reigned for not less than 636 years until 1918, the Habsburger. That lead to some constancy in the developement of my hometown Vienna you know.

But during all that times of internal European wars, rivalties between European kingdoms, wins of this one, losses of that one, never the existance of whole cities was set in question as far as I know. The emperors simply would not have been powerfull enough to demand a larger town to vanish. Of course there have been wars like the 30years war that devasted the lands, but that did not destroy towns either. After all the European aristocracy became more and more relative to each other, they marriaged all across.


Another aspect that can not be underestimated is the Curch. As last remaining roman institution it was the protecter of the wisdom of the fallen empire. And it effectively was the force that held Europe in the middle ages together. The abbeys were the sole place of developement and science during those times. And until the era of Renaissance brake on they were the sole ones to remember the wisdom and heritage of the antique civilisation.

No doubt during all those centuries, Europe was nothing special. Allready the Arabic realms superceded it by far in nearly all terms. Not to speak about China I guess.


In fact I am still unsure what led to the rise of Europe. Probably it really was the discoverage of the new world. A point when also the ancient books in the libraries and the wisdom of arabic scripts has been read again and universities took over the job. And the developement of the Gun powder, well not that Europeans invented it, but it puzzles me that that we were the first as it seem to construct guns. The weapon that should lead suddenly to military superiority.


Probably the point so few non-chinese people today speak Chinese but instead English is that Europe started to look beyond its borders starting with the 16th century.


Ok, I have now perhaps shown that I have concepts about Europe.... but I still lack to coming only near to understand China....



Anna, one question. Why are not only Chinese but also they such fans of (European) classical music and architecture? I can see it day in day out when looking into the city centre of Vienna.

It seems weird enough that many Chinese know such tiny little something like Austria at all. But the way they seem to be impressed by eg Vienna amazes me. What is the the reason for being so impressed for those Chinese (and also Japanese etc) from their perspective?
Just a recent example, the Chinese television has asked our states broadcaster to make a joint broadcast, with classical Austrian and Chinese music. That makes 8 million potential Austrian viewers seeing Chinese music, but above hundrends of millions potential Chinese who see Austrian music....
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Old September 2nd, 2006, 11:59 AM   #33
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Traditional Malay Skyscraper
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Old September 6th, 2006, 02:06 PM   #34
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Great pictures, makes you wanna be there.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 03:36 PM   #35
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What came to be known as Philippine architecture...
from flickr

PHILIPPINE CHURCHES (only a selected few are featured)
San Agustin Church, Intramuros de Manila


Santo Tomas de Villanueva


Iglesia de San Agustin, Paoay, Ilocos Norte


San Martin de Torres


Iglesia de Santiago Apostol, Betis, Pampanga


inside Santiago Apostol


Iglesia de San Geronimo, Morong


Iglesia de La Asuncion, Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur


there are more from where that came from

City of Vigan (formerly, Ciudad Fernandina)


Aeropuerto de Zamboanga


A Pre-Hispanic Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut)
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Old September 6th, 2006, 03:48 PM   #36
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Traditional Thai architecture



























Khmer influences



Common houses

Common ideas is an open courtyard, pillars, lots of tropical wood, curvy multi tiered roofs with different kinds of spires, and pools (mainly to protect from animals and insects and maybe for symbolical value). Windows were often narrowing towards te top for added strength.



















The spirit house
A miniature building are traditionally placed in the garden to house the spirits of the site of a building. This is still done for official buildings, and most skyscrapers in Bangkok has an elaborate spirit house near the entrance or at the roof.


There are lots of regional differences in the architecture, as in every country, but I don't want to go into too much details.
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Old September 22nd, 2006, 07:53 AM   #37
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Old July 19th, 2007, 09:23 AM   #38
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Chinese diaspora villages made World Heritage site

HONG KONG, June 28 (Reuters) - A clutch of idyllic Chinese villages with striking Western-style buildings embodying the roots of the Chinese diaspora over a century ago was made a United Nations World Heritage site on Thursday.

Lying in a quiet corner of southern China, to the west of the Pearl River Delta, Kaiping's bucolic countryside is sprinkled with hundreds of rural Qiaoxian, or overseas Chinese villages, which, along with several neighbouring counties, gave rise to much of the Chinese diaspora in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Many distinct buildings, including striking tall watchtowers or Diaolou, were built by returning emigres in a distinct style fusing Chinese, Victorian and Baroque architectural elements.

A cluster of four such villages in Kaiping county including picturesque gems like Zili village, set amid verdant rice paddy fields, was designated by UNESCO's World Heritage Commission which met in Christchurch, New Zealand.

"I'm very happy they got it, because this is a reflection of history," said David Lung, the Head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong.

Lung had helped initially with Kaiping's submission to the world cultural body by stressing its value as a repository of overseas Chinese culture.

"It's a reflection of the history of early settlers... the Chinese immigrants who went to San Francisco or Australia in the late 1800's, early 1900's that helped in the gold mines," he said.

Kaiping officials had spent eight years trying to get listed, a task made urgent by the deterioration and dereliction of some key historic spots.

"Kaiping is not so rich... so now we can make this site useful by developing it and opening it up to cultural tourism," said Selia Tan, the director of the Diaolou Research Department in Kaiping, who spoke by phone to Reuters from New Zealand after attending the UNESCO meeting.

Experts say up to 80 percent of the Chinese in North America came from the so called "Say-yat" region in the Pearl River Delta -- a group of four districts including Kaiping and Taishan.

The Chinese diaspora to North America and Australia began in the mid-1800's when Chinese peasants lured by tales of gold rushes headed off in steamships.

When the goldfields were exhausted, more still went to work on the Transcontinental railroads across Canada and the United States.

Subsequent generations ended up working in laundries, groceries and restaurants, among other enterprises, founding Chinatowns wherever they went.

With Kaiping's inscription, China now has 35 World Heritage cultural and natural sites -- ranging from the Great Wall and Lhasa's Potala Palace to Macau's historic Portuguese centre.

A cluster of striking Karst formations and stone forests in Southern China's Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces was also listed as a natural world heritage site by UNESCO this week.

Over 800 sites from around the world are now UNESCO World Heritage listed, described to be of outstanding universal value.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 04:55 AM   #39
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Some pictures of old 雕楼 (diaolou) in Kaiping:











At the time Diaolou were not just fancy residences in a new style, they were mini-fortresses. All windows had bars AND metal shutters. The doors were either hardwood or metal. The balconies and rooftop terraces provided excellent lookout and firing positions in every direction. (Guns were plentiful back then, as well as bandits.) It may seem just aesthetics and luxury for us now but the architecture itself is a testament to the turbulent times in which they lived in.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 08:14 AM   #40
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Malaysia
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