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Bracket arm clusters containing cantilevers, Yingzao Fashi

The Yingzao Fashi (Chinese: 營造法式; pinyin: yíngzàofǎshì; literally: "Treatise on Architectural Methods or State Building Standards") is a technical treatise on architecture and craftsmanship written by the Chinese author Li Jie (李誡; 1065–1110),[1] the Directorate of Buildings and Construction during the mid Song Dynasty of China. A promising architect, he revised many older treatises on architecture from 1097 to 1100. By 1100, he had completed his own architectural work, which he presented to Emperor Zhezong of Song.[2][3] The emperor's successor, Emperor Huizong of Song, had the book published in 1103 in order to provide a unified set of architectural standards for builders, architects, and literate craftsmen as well as for the engineering agencies of the central government.[2][3][4] With his book becoming a noted success, Li Jie was promoted by Huizong as the Director of Palace Buildings.[5] Thereafter, Li became well known for his oversight in the construction of administrative offices, palace apartments, gates and gate-towers, the ancestral temple of the Song Dynasty, along with numerous Buddhist temples.[3] In 1145, a second edition of Li's book was published by Wang Huan.[4] Between 1222-1233, a third printing was published. This edition, published in Pingjiang (now Suzhou), was later handcopied into the Yongle Encyclopedia and Siku Quanshu. In addition, a number of handcopied editions were made for private libraries. One of these handcopies of the Pingjiang edition was rediscovered in 1919 and printed as facsimile in 1920.

The treatise[edit]

Tenon and mortice work of tie beams and cross beams, Yingzao Fashi

Some of Li's book used material from preexisting architectural writings, but most of it is documentation of the inherited traditions of craftsmen and architects passed down by word of mouth.[2] Li's book provides a glossary of technical terms that includes mathematical formulae. He incorporated topography in his estimations for buildings on various types of sites.[5] He also estimated the monetary costs of hiring laborers of different skill levels and types of expertise in crafts. His estimates take a day's work as their basis and include the materials needed, taking into account the season in which the work was done.[5]

Li's work incorporates building rules and regulations, accounting information, standards for materials used in construction, and the classification of various crafts.[6] The 34 chapters in the book specify in detail the units of measurement, the construction of moats and fortifications, and standards for stonework as well as for greater and lesser woodwork.[7][8] It includes the specifications (and illustrations) for constructing bracketing units with inclined arms and joints for columns and beams,[9] as well as directions for wood carving, turning and drilling, sawing, bamboo work, tiling, wall building, painting and decoration, and the formulas for decorative paints, glazes and various coatings.[7][8] Included are the mixing proportions for mortars in masonry, brickwork and glazed tile.[5][8] The book provides hand-drawn illustrations of all the practices and standards.[7] He outlined structural carpentry in great detail, providing standard dimensional measurements for all the components. For instance, Li developed a standard 8-rank grading system for different sizes of timber elements. The system was known as the cai-fen system of units and could be universally applied to buildings.[10]

Although others were written and compiled beforehand, Li's book is the oldest existing technical manual on Chinese architecture to have survived intact and in its entirety.[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Guo, 1-3.
  2. ^ a b c Guo, 4.
  3. ^ a b c Needham, Volume 4, 84.
  4. ^ a b Guo 6.
  5. ^ a b c d Guo, 5.
  6. ^ Needham, Volume 4, Part 3, 84-85.
  7. ^ a b c Guo, 1.
  8. ^ a b c Needham, Volume 4, 85
  9. ^ Guo, 2.
  10. ^ Guo, 6-7.


  • Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part 3. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.
  • Guo, Qinghua. "Yingzao Fashi: Twelfth-Century Chinese Building Manual," Architectural History: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (Volume 41 1998): 1–13. (JSTOR)

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yingzao_Fashi — Please support Wikipedia.
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6 videos found

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Bricks - Geographic History

A brick is a block or a single unit of a kneaded clay-bearing soil, sand and lime, or concrete material, fire-hardened or air-dried, used in masonry construction.

The Entasis of Sound

第一讲 第五段

Moon River, 19회, EP19, #03

Click "CC" for subtitles 공식홈페이지 http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/iljimae/ Moon River(돌아온 일지매) 19회 EP19 2009/03/25 MBC TV Republic of Korea ...

6 videos found

11 news items

USC News

USC News
Fri, 04 Dec 2015 07:37:41 -0800

Luo's fascination with miniature architecture was triggered when she was translating a 12th-century manuscript on Chinese architecture titled Yingzao fashi (“Building standards”). Written by an imperial architect, it is the earliest surviving ...

The Diplomat

The Diplomat
Mon, 03 Aug 2015 05:47:48 -0700

The prime example is the Building Standards (Yingzao fashi), which according to Needham marks the zenith of Chinese technical drawing. An imperially-commissioned manual for building government edifices, much of its merits rest with the author Li Jie, ...

The Guardian (blog)

The Guardian (blog)
Thu, 19 Dec 2013 02:45:16 -0800

OMA's room is another highlight, presenting a forensic analysis of the roofing chapter of the Yingzao Fashi, one of China's earliest construction manuals, written in 1100AD. Over the course of the exhibition, the practice will construct an intricate ...

Next Big Future

Next Big Future
Sat, 21 Mar 2015 01:41:46 -0700

[27][29] However, there were nine prominently known revolving repositories during the Song period, and one of them was even featured in an illustration of Li Jie's book Yingzao Fashi ('Treatise on Architectural Methods') of 1103.[27][30] The rotating ...


Fri, 13 Dec 2013 06:37:52 -0800

The first will translate the 'Yingzao Fashi', a construction manual for how to build a traditional Chinese roof written during the Song Dynasty. The second workshop will explore how the text can be explained in an exhibition and students will execute ...

UH System Current News

UH System Current News
Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:26:15 -0700

Unlike previous scholarship, which has reviewed this imperially commissioned architectural manual largely as a technical work, this volume considers the Yingzao Fashi's unique literary value and explores the rich cultural implications in and behind its ...

The Star Online

The Star Online
Tue, 10 Jun 2014 20:14:01 -0700

Japanese roof elements from the Yingzao Fashi building standards (from China's Song Dynasty, 960-1279) on display in the central pavilion. This survey of architecture's struggle with, embrace of, and capitulation to the inevitable tide of modernity ...

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Fri, 06 Jun 2014 20:30:24 -0700

Schon in der Song-Dynastie wurden im Handbuch «Yingzao fashi» (1103) Vorschriften für Dachkonstruktionen amtlich festgelegt. Selbstverständlich buchstabiert Koolhaas das Grundrepertoire des Bauens nicht einfach durch. Jedem Bauteil ist ein Raum ...

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