Terminology and Geometry: Evolution of Chinese Traditional Architectural Drawing
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Chinese traditional architectural drawing possessed a unique set of terminologies and geometric principles that were entirely distinguished from the Western Euclidean geometry, under the category of tu (the Chinese character for drawing). This paper etymologically and geometrically investigates the evolution of Chinese traditional drawing, from around the Tang (618-907 CE) and Song (960-1279 CE) Dynasties to the early modern period in the twentieth century. The etymology analysis centers on the terms di pan, shi and yang. The geometrical analysis deconstructs the composition of a selected drawing in the Yang Shi Lei tu archives in the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912 CE). By doing so, this research reveals that the terminologies corresponding to different geometrical forms respectively indicate associations between architectural drawing and the philosophy of Chinese cosmology, and the arrangement of the geometrical forms in the visual picture plane facilitates expressions of the concepts of space and position in geometrical cosmology. Moreover, the architectural tu itself as an entity situating in between the technical tu tradition and painting tradition, developed architecturalization of pictorial languages.