Pretty much every culture in the world has its own tradition of architecture, design principles, etc., reflecting what society considers "ideal." In ancient Greece, these famously became codified into the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian "Orders"; the proportions used are reflective of various perceptions and values in the society (e.g. Doric is more "masculine" whereas Ionic is more "feminine".)

What's the analogue for ancient China? Steeped as traditional Chinese thought was in Confucianism, with its emphasis on hierarchy, and Taoism, etc., I have a really hard time believing that there weren't systematic "ideal" design principles in place used by architects and furniture-makers. Feng-shui and all that (e.g. here's a book written by a European in the 1800's: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cfu/fs/fs04.htm, but I would prefer something actually written by native and practicing Chinese architects, even better if it was a "how-to" guide to their fellow architects.)

I'm looking to learn practical design principles that I can use in my own woodworking, not just the philosophy and history behind them. I want to build doors and cabinets that "look inherently Chinese." I like the Chinese aesthetic and want to understand it better through its history.

  • 2
    I don't believe there is anything quite like the Greek Orders in Chinese architecture, but the closest to what you're looking for might be the 11th century Treatise on Architectural Methods, which documented much of the norms and traditions of Chinese architecture of the time.
    – Semaphore
    Nov 4 '15 at 4:56
  • Ionic isn't "feminine," and it especially wasn't made to be so. After the Persian Wars, the Ionians were sometimes labeled with derogatory insults, but the columns have nothing to do with it.
    – user12566
    Nov 4 '15 at 15:18

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